Constructed Photography versus Non-constructed or ‘Straight Photography’

A Rough Sketch With Annotations Showing How in My Eyes Constructed Photography Differs From Straight Photography

I was inspired unusually by a video game to make this post which I suppose had been in the back of my head for a while now. In the game Kingdom Hearts III (2019), there is a photography mini-game involving photographing Mickey Mouse emblems. Most of them are against surfaces and are just hard to find. However, one is made up of 3 different circles on 3 different planes that wouldn’t make sense unless viewed from the right perspective. Of course I had come across Georges Rousse before whose work is very similar in execution of this concept but it also made me think of normal or ‘straight’ photography. Here, differing subjects are brought together through juxtapositions to form interesting photographs.

© Georges Rousse (2003) - Rüsselheim 2003
© Georges Rousse (2003) – Rüsselheim 2003

The difference is Georges Rousse takes 3d juxtapositions to form a 2d shape or concept, which then has to be photographed or seen. Another example is Richard Long’s (1967) A Line Made by Walking, where sculpture is made by walking (but is still a 3d juxtaposition) which then has to be photographed.

© Richard Long (1967) - A Line Made By Walking
© Richard Long (1967) – A Line Made By Walking

‘Straight’ photography takes 3d juxtapositions to form a 2d shape or concept that is the photograph already.

A Rough Sketch With Annotations Showing How in My Eyes Constructed Photography Differs From Straight Photography
A Rough Sketch With Annotations Showing How in My Eyes Constructed Photography Differs From Straight Photography

I’m beginning to think this difference is the crux of constructed photography versus straight photography. One question is whether either approach could be perceived as ‘better’ than the other? Also whether the two approaches intertwine in the real world, for instance where street art is photographed in straight photography?

One reason I am interested in this topic is because it affects my decisions for my own work going forward. At the moment I am of the opinion that constructed versus straight photography is quite an either/or choice; except in certain circumstances (like the street art photographed in straight photography), the two don’t really intertwine. One option of course would be to experiment with both (especially constructed photography of which I’ve experimented with less) and see which approach suits me better.

Secondly, I’m interested because recently I have become more aware of the challenges of producing original work in the glut of images that pervade social media platforms, especially with straight photography. There is so much competition in straight photography because so much has been documented in terms of place as well as subject before. There is room for documenting current affairs or topical issues but again there is much competition daily for these subjects. Constructed photography on the other hand seems harder to make subtle and its ethics are more dubious in my opinion as the photographer is intervening directly with the world around them. However, this in turn allows for more creativity.

References:

Disney/Square Enix. (2019). Kingdom Hearts III. [Blu-ray DISC] Playstation 4. London: Square Enix Ltd.

Long, R. (1967). A Line Made By Walking. [Photograph] Retrieved from: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/long-a-line-made-by-walking-ar00142 [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

Rousse, G. (2003). Rüsselheim 2003. [Photograph] Retrieved from: https://www.georgesrousse.com/en/archives/article/georges-rousse-in-ruesselsheim/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

One thought on “Constructed Photography versus Non-constructed or ‘Straight Photography’

  1. You might like to see Daria Martin’s work at the Barbican- check it out. I write about in on my blog and plan to return. I’m also signed up TPG to learn code (credit card!) as I’ve been wanting to make some work using that kind of visual language. It’s Monday nights for ten weeks.,

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