Constructed Realities

The construction process of my photographs is very present in all of my work. There are different elements of it of course, depending on the nature of the photograph I make. While I begin with the thought of the story and the subject, there is almost always a fictional element in my photographs, something that alters that “real” moment when the camera shutter clicks.

When working with people, I can’t recall how often do I ask them to face me certain way and/or select background or additional elements to be included in the photograph. Even advising models on certain aspect of clothing or makeup adds to the construction of the photograph. From a “technical” aspect, cropping and using editing tools also add to the final outcome of my work; therefore, impacting the overall making of the photograph.

The construction of my work can be a challenging process, as often I find that it impacts my train of thought and ultimately affects how I approach my next projects. It definitely has an element of continuation, as sometimes I try different technique only to find out that it wasn’t working in a particular project, but works well in another. I have been working recently on portraits and playing with different filters, comparing the final effects and how differently the message can be perceived when different editing methods are applied.

When I am shooting sports, the construction of these photographs is almost always limited to the aspect of me choosing the subject and very light post editing (most likely cropping if any) – unless I want to create a picture and add more graphic alterations to the photograph. There is just a different technique to photograph sports – less planning and more observing the ongoing action to be able to capture it at the right time. There is no repeat scenes, no “let’s try that again” moments.

I am a big admirer of Shelley Lipton’s work. She is a Canadian photographer and a psychologist. I came across one of her images that made me reflect on the constructive aspect and how I may relate my work to it.

Shelley Lipton 2012 USA Karate Nationals

This is a clearly constructed image with a very powerful pose indicating strength and action, yet showing a sense of delicacy, sharp emotions and confidence, and hands in a pose that indicate movement. Yet, there is an element of reality in it despite its’ construction. The photographer was able to make me believe that this is a “real” moment in time. For all I know, this photograph could have been taken as the subject was on the mat executing his next move. This is why this photograph appeals to me. Careful construction of it retains the belief of reality of the scene and the photographed subject.

While I consider myself a photographer/documentarist, one of the top challenges for me is to balance the fact and fiction in my work. Yes, I capture a real world, but there is a percentage of fiction in all my photographs, its’ size depending on the type of work I create. My goal is to make photographs that transform the reality into a photograph as realistic as possible and influence my viewers with the constructed message at the same time.

References:

https://shelleylipton.photoshelter.com/archive

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