Robert Gregory Griffeth has attracted a cult following with photographs that combine haunting yet glamorous elements in varying degrees. Typically Griffeth presents unnerving props such as skulls, disembodied humans with extraordinary looking models in well-staged tableaux which evoke 19th-century studio photographs. His photographs have an incredible ability to attract and repel all at the same time. Viewers who bring themselves to look will often look twice to see the embedded messages.
“My work is like a dream, just something that happens from the input of life. When when you’re dreaming you have no control. The photos for me are the same, I shoot things on one end, then I take from that, and very quickly, it seems I just put things together and then print.”
Inspired by Daguerreotypes and Griffeth’s photography often mimics the technique and appearance of an earlier era. Before creating each image, he first sketches the ideas on paper arranging each detail of the scene perfectly. After the subjects are photographed, he manipulates the negatives physically in the dark room by scratching, piercing, bleaching, toning and applying pigment by hand. Thus, his works are famous for their silvery, found-antique quality. It is these purposeful imperfections that make his work worthy of praise.
I met with Robert Gregory Griffeth about 15 years ago. He was living just outside of Atlanta then and invited me for a studio tour. I was instantly captivated by his demure personality and infectious talent. Splayed across the floor were hundreds of prints in varying degrees of development. What caught my attention was seeing the same model over and over again. She had very distinct features that worked well with his concepts. I can’t recall her name but know she departed the scene quite a while ago. However, Griffeth’s newer images not only appear more refined, they also feature another stunning model named Glass Olive. Her unique look lends a great deal of allure to Griffeth’s imagery.
Robert Gregory Griffeth creates images weave together the realms of avant-garde, religion, beauty, dreams, and fashion. Even though there is some surface shock value, his work is undeniably powerful. Not meaning to be a provocateur, Griffeth’s addresses various complex issues through his imagery which includes the societal standards of beauty. Rather than trying to put makes things looks slick and pretty, he seeks to dismantle the preconceived notions of physical beauty and sexuality. His bag of tricks brings us closer to finding beauty within things less ordinary—and that’s a treat!
To see more work by Robert Gregory Griffeth, visit his site here.3