I say both! Each genre has its benefits, here are just a few.
(Photo: Pieces of Me by Robin Ay)
Still Life photography is the art of making the inanimate psychologically animate. This form of photography can speak subconsciously to the viewer while awakening memories. The photo above titled Pieces of Me was created from a broken porcelain doll laid out on a black background. This simplicity leaves the viewer room for their own interpretation, to see parts of the artists, parts of ourselves, or both.
(Photo: Embryonic by Robin Ay)
Still life is the transcendence of the everyday into something unusual, or the revelation that an object could be more than it is. It’s an amazing experience to see the curvatures of the human body in a pepper, Edward Weston started this trend in 1930, and we have been yearning for more ever since. As we see above in my photo Embryonic, I used a red pepper, reflected strobe lighting and shadow control to create a “humanesque” figure. When viewing this image we begin to ask ourselves about the similarities of life forms. We see a beauty in the mundane. No matter your experience, there is no right or wrong!
(Photo: Led to Slaughter by Robin Ay)
Constructed Reality photography takes Still Life to a whole other level for me, and I hope for you as a viewer too! Constructed Realities have a message that is more specific than Still Life photography. Take the image above, title Slaughter for example. In this image I constructed a scene of little pigs herding themselves toward a McDonald’s arches sign and an American Flag (to give you an idea of size, the flag is on a toothpick!). What does this say to you? Are the pigs being led to slaughter? Do the pigs represented obese Americans feeding on their only affordable food source in a failing economy? Just like Still Life photography (and all art for that matter) there really is no right or wrong, only the desire from the artist- this artist in particular, to make you feel.
So yes, both Still Life and Constructed Reality can be used for communication. Both forms of photography make use of metaphor, but Still Life delivers a softer message than Constructed Reality’s “in your face” attitude. In each genre the possibilities are endless: imagination and personal experiences are key.
I highly recommend that you visit local museums and art galleries for your own personal inspiration, no matter your career choice or lifestyle. Viewing Still Life and Constructed Reality photography up close and personal can speak to you in many different ways. Please take some time for yourself and enjoy all that these art forms have to offer!