“Botanical Inquiry” is a series of photographic dioramas that shuffle nature, geography, and physics into familiar but fictional environments.

In these compositions, the physical characteristics of the unremarkable plants I have collected become storytelling elements which, when staged against the backdrop of common urban environments, explore the quietly menacing effect that humans have on the natural world. From a subjective and ambiguous point of view, we witness the plants’ ability to adapt and survive.

By manipulating the optical and staging properties of photography with an analogue “machine” that I have constructed, I have produced these studio-based images “in camera” rather than using Photoshop compositing. They rely exclusively on the singular perspective of the camera to render their mechanics invisible.

—Daniel Shipp

Editors’ note: Shipp’s work was selected as a Series Winner in the Fine Art Category of the Magnum Photography Awards 2017. Discover more inspiring work from all 41 of the winners, finalists, jurors’ picks and student spotlights.