Nancy’s Creative Process

My creative process begins with asking questions you haven’t heard before, reading between the lines, and tapping intuition. Dreamscape photomontages, however, would never be the amazing pieces they are without that initial conversation with you, my client. Conversely, while a face-to-face visit is lovely, it’s not required because we can always have a conversation by phone or virtually (Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, GoogleHangouts) to produce something wondrous too. It’s amazing that some of the best pieces were made for clients I just talked to over the phone!

So have a look at these commonly asked questions about my process. If you still have a question, contact me at or 773-255-4677 (EST).

Pricing/Delivery FAQs


Q: Can you briefly explain your creative process? 
A: I encourage my clients to begin one of two ways. One is to go directly to Order Now! and select a photomontage pricing package that best suits your needs.  Or we can begin with your photographs so that our conversation  leads us to the ideal images we’ll need to make your digital photo collage. Either way, I want to know: Who is your Dreamscape about and who is it for? Is it for a special occasion? Where will it be displayed? Do you already have a vision for your Dreamscape?  The secret to the best Dreamscape photo collages is getting a feel for our subject: who they are, and most importantly, how we want their Dreamscape to make them feel.

Even without seeing your photographs – I often “get” a creative direction pretty early on based on our conversation. The subject of which photos we’ll need comes next, with you telling me which photos you have or don’t have that could fit our idea. Once I receive your photos, we’ll go over them (in person or by phone/Skype) and I’ll tell you which images work together and which won’t and why. We’ll also decide on  additional images I will need to search for to make your photomontage even more whimsical, dramatic, or poignant.

What’s truly fun about my custom photo collage process is that you will be able to see in emailed mock-ups how your images and my images  – landscapes, people, pets, objects – get digitally retouched, enhanced, and finally combined to create an amazing storytelling picture. And because a photomontage is created by digitally layering images one on top of the other, it’s fairly easily altered. So we have the option at any point in the process to add or subtract images if it takes away from the composition.

Brainstorming for a Storytelling Dreamscape 

Q: Why does your creative process have to start with a conversation?
A: Dreamscape stories wouldn’t pack nearly as much emotional punch if I did not dig deeply into who your photomontage is for, and for what occasion. Unlike an e-commerce relationship that consists only of clicking through screens and checkboxes, you and I are creating a personal work of art, collaboratively. The back and forth that is only possible person to person helps me listen as much for what’s unsaid as what is spoken — something impossible via email.

Q: What if I agree on a direction, and then I don’t like my Dreamscape?
A: Not possible and here’s why. I have a terrific record of hitting my clients’ sweet spot on the first pass. More importantly, I work on your Dreamscape until you love it.

Q: How soon do we figure out the “story” of my creative photo collage?
A: It takes no time at all to run through important questions about your vision and budget, the condition of your photos and to write up a quote. By the end of our first conversation, you will know the basic concept for the piece – but not necessarily the composition. Once I start cutting out people, objects and landscapes from those images, all kinds of possibilities will present themselves, which I’ll share with you via email mock-ups. You’ll take a look, tell me what you like (maybe we’ll move images around or delete something) and we’ll go from there.

Photos for a Storytelling Dreamscape

Q: How many photos should go into a custom photo collage?
A: Some of you may already have a fixed idea in mind of exactly how many photos you want to use. But you know what? To tell a good story, often fewer photos produce more artistic results. This is why I always recommend that we talk first by phone or Skype before I send you a quote. (Email is really terrible for brainstorming about custom-created artwork!)

My creative photo collages don’t use a fixed number of photos. Rather, they are born out of good storytelling, good taste and your budget. My personal opinion is that there should always be plenty of white space around elements in your Dreamscape so that the viewer can fully absorb the individual elements that cue a specific memory, or to savor the special meaning behind an object, person, or landscape. In other words, you won’t ever need as many photos as you think to tell a powerful story.

Q: I’m worried I won’t be able to find the right photographs for my custom photo collage.
A: In all my years making Dreamscapes, clients never have a problem putting their hands on the right photos. This is because everyone has a mental picture of the photos that are really special to them. Even if they’re at the bottom of a shoebox, they at least know how to get their hands on that specific shoebox.

Q: Where do you get the images for my custom photo collage – which I don’t have?
A: I work with hundreds of photographers who are my eyes and ears out on the ground. If we decide we need a specific image which I don’t have in my own image library, I do a photo search on photo-sharing sites, and ask permission of that photographer to use their photo.

Q: When selecting a photo of our subject, what photos should be rejected outright?
A: If the photo you’re looking for is cropped, make sure it is not cropped on more than two sides. Stay away from out-of-focus photographs (unless we are aiming for a dreamy backdrop). Look for candid photos instead of portrait studio photographs where the subject looks obviously posed and tense.

Q: What kind of poses are best for a storytelling dreamscape?
A:  Dynamic ones! Think about the quirky body language of your subject. What do they do with their bodies that nobody else does (like the way they laugh, dance, eat, throw a ball)? Take a look at  Craig’s Dreamscape. You see how the young man sitting fully clothed in the bathtub invites you in with a sweeping movement of his hand?

Q: Can we add drawings, political buttons or even military medals to our dreamscape?

Make believe protest: a creative photo collage for Jenny Z by digital artist Nancy GershmanA: Absolutely anything that can be photographed or scanned can go into a Dreamscape. They simply become just another digital file to email or snail mail to me. For example, check out Roy’s OJ “make believe protest” here on the left. Well, the signs carried by Roy’s son and daughter were actually made by these kids themselves!


If you didn’t find your question answered here or on my FAQ page which goes into more detail about pricing, uploading photos, deliverables and delivery, email me at or call me at 773-255-4677 (EST).