Observational and Constructed Photography

Observational Photography:

A photograph that depicts what it going on in a photograph without the imput of the photographer. It is solely an act of non-intervention.

Too Early

Too early refers to observational photography, where one might say that the actual taking of the photograph happens before the idea…….has been fully realised

Task One: Find a photograph that you consider is a well observed picture of a current news story.


I find the image above of a medical team in Syria a really great observational image; by taking the shot from a distance the photographer has truly established the seriousness of what is going on in the image. You can clearly tell that this is an observational image as opposed to constructive simply due to its subject matter as it is hard to imagine a medical team in that harsh situation posing as though they are performing an operation as it would simply come across as bad taste and as though the photographer was mocking the logistics. It is clear that if the photographer had not been there, then the medical team would still have carried on with the operation that is seen in the image above. The photographer chose to take it from this angle so that the audience could see it from an observational standpoint where they do not involve themselves within image at all; which works extremely well in evoking the gravity of the story behind the image.

Constructive Photography:

A photograph that depicts a sense of reality through the artistic concept of the photographer. The most obvious example of this would be fashion and any form of advertisement photography.

Too Late

Too late refers to constructed, highly premeditated photographs made in a manner that has come to be defined as “directorial”.

Task Two: Find an image that you consider depicts the concept of constructed photography.

lamsweerde n matadin 2dddd

As you can see here, this image is vastly different to the image depicted above not only through subject matter but the style itself. It is evident here that the photographer wanted to create a concept through a collaborative fashion editorial image. The concept as a whole is almost shocking and dramatic, which in itself blatantly associates itself with constructed photography.  It is not necessarily how the image was shot, (although the studio location is an obvious giveaway!) but simply what is in the image; the story is cartoonish and childish; just how the photographer imagined and premeditated it to be.

Observation and Construction Task

Pick one of the following themes and take an observational, reportage picture that represents the story AND construct a picture that represents the story:

•The Campus
•The City Centre

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