Custom Digital Photo Collage
The custom storytelling photomontages I create for clients – “Dreamscapes” as I call them – are a kind of hybrid photograph. I create these photomontages on the computer, and almost any image can find itself in a Dreamscape, so long as it’s scannable or it comes from a photo you send to me digitally.
My first priority is to find the story, whether that means it will be a real memory, an embellished memory or pure fantasy. Then I use your photos of people, pets, belongings and landscapes to tell the story. Often I will add a piece of memorabilia, your personal artwork, as well as meaningful objects and backdrops from my own image library or photo research to enrich the Dreamscape. And always, I will play with your photos until a very different story emerges that will tug at your heartstrings.
My other top priority is restoring (and sometimes improving upon) your photos before it goes into your custom digital photo collage. This might include:
- Removal of of any visual noise (scanner lint, etc.)
- Photo retouching (color and complexion correction, saturating colors)
- Photo restoration (repair of moderate cracks)
- Photo augmentation (recreating missing parts and reconstituting obliterated features)
- Digital manipulation (flipping orientation, changing scale, adding shadows, motion and lighting effects)
From a water-damaged photo blown down the street by a hurricane to a cracked and overexposed photo of newlyweds from the 1920s, my goal is repairing a damaged photo to its original condition as best I can – or else we choose another photograph. Before any photographic image is placed into your custom digital photo collage, it’s scrubbed and groomed of any visual noise (dents, discoloration, scanner lint, etc.). This is especially important when a 4″ x 6″ photo may be scanned at a high resolution and then enlarged to prints 8″ x 10″ or larger.
Sometimes body parts are missing (like the little boy in Peter C’s dreamscape, who originally sits in waist deep grass, but then needs legs to kneel on in the photomontage on your left). No problem. Missing knees, sneakers, tips of fingers – anything that’s been lopped off by the photographer’s cropping – is happily reconstructed one of two ways. Either I grab the missing part from another photo of the same individual, or I work like a portrait painter, “cloning” color or texture from similar photos so that I can “clone” the missing part onto the spot in need.
Other times there are missing objects (like the Japanese Obon lanterns in Nori the Nanny’s dreamscape) that are important for lending a feeling of authenticity to your custom digital photo collage. To find these cultural, historical or geographical objects, I do an extensive photo search worldwide, and ask amateur and professional photographers for permission to use their photos for a one-time use.
Sometimes the blurriest photo is someone’s favorite photo. Take the dreamscape portrait of Samantha L, whose mom and dad dearly loved an overexposed, out-of-focus shot of their prima ballerina on her belly, daydreaming in ballet class. The problem was that the picture was clearly out of focus. I needed some illusionary device that made Samantha appear to be as sharp as the other surrounding objects I added into her photomontage. When I came across a tondo of cherubim, I knew I hit the jackpot. This classical porthole is meant to reside high in the sky, and so it places Samantha at the farthest distance from the viewer. In short, it cleverly turned Samantha into a dreamy angel!
Engaging me to make your custom photomontage is like hiring a curator of photography, digital artist and personal historian, all rolled into one. I give you custom wishful reality; not just photos stitched together by a special effects software program by “our graphics guy.” Your artistic collage art – really, a digital photo collage – will look like nothing- or everything – you’ve ever dreamed of. And if that doesn’t excite you, this will. Your pictures and stories inspire me to try things I’ve never tried before, which means that your photomontage will be even more one-of-a-kind. In Mindy’s photomontage, look how her face is made to literally blend in with the statue’s face!
Instead of superimposing photos against a stock photo background, or arranging your photos into jigsaw puzzle arrangements on puff clouds, I aim for true proportions, natural shadow play, realistic lighting effects and compelling compositions using my own original photography or the photographs of my colleagues out in the field. Thanks to the transformative power of digital photo manipulation, I’m able to create artistic, storytelling portraits of people that feel, in the words of a friend of mine, “entirely seamless and yet seemly at the same time.”
Once I learn about the little things that mean so much to you, that’s when your custom collage art comes to life. As in a dream, I’ll capture those magic moments of Celebration, Legacy and Healing in great detail. But unlike a dream, you’ll be able to enjoy your Dreamscape every waking hour of the day! I promise as your artist–for-hire a level of service that will make this conversation piece one of the most touching and enduring photo gifts you ever give or get.