Photo manipulation means changing photographs to create an illusion or fantasy. Both fine art and commercial photographers have recently taken this type of photography to a mind-blowing level. This style of work requires a high level of skill accompanied with imagination to create good work. Today I bring you 10 photographers who have made exceptional projects using Photoshop and other photo-editing software. These photographers create artwork that bridges the platforms of photography and illustration, creating images that wouldn’t be possible with traditional photography alone.
1. Jeremy Blincoe is a New Zealand-based photographer. "My process of production is pivotal; each element is selected or designed and made then placed, photographed and sometimes composited using digital technologies so that the sum – the final image – is greater than its parts, each work being a personal exploration or expression of the concerns I have about contemporary human existence.”
I love the mysterious and mystical environment Blincoe creates in the project Wander and Wander. The Combination of studio and natural lighting create an augmented, hyperrealist quality. The project takes the viewer back into childhood and perhaps into the times spent wondering through nature.
2. Oleg Dou lives in Russia and transforms photographic images of human faces, manipulating them with computer software to produce stylized features and airbrushed skin.
“I am looking for something bordering between the beautiful and the repulsive, living and dead,” he has said. “I want to attain the feeling of presence one can get when walking by a plastic manikin…”
Check out his project Another Face. These haunting human faces are borderline alien. Their surreal qualities leave me wondering which elements are photographic and which are computer generated.
3. Natalie Shau resides in Lithuania and combines 3D programs and digital painting on top of photography to create dark, surreal, and haunting images. She combines modern and historical elements into what has been described as gothic pop surrealism. She frequently creates commissioned work for musicians, theater, fashion magazines and more.
4. Erik Johanson is a Swedish Photographer and retoucher. Even though his work is highly manipulated, “The goal is to make the image as realistic as possible” he says. Johanson makes ideas come to life without CGI or stock photography, and the ideas he generates are jaw dropping. Check out Erik Johanson’s work. He also makes behind the scenes videos of his process.
5. Vee Speers is an Australian photographer who creates dramatic and surreal portraits. Her project Immortal first grabbed my attention, where beautiful youths are set against scenes of post-apocalyptic destruction. “With the smooth gloss sheen of fashion-model perfection Speers has created a new world that merges Mona Lisa charm and mystery, with the melancholy of Dorian Gray. The surface is loaded with reference both to classical art, and to the airbrushed Photoshop perfection of youthful beauty that has become the everyday obsession of western culture.”
6. Ysabel Lemay lives in the United States and meticulously composites hundreds of images together to create colorful hyper-collages. Her photo manipulations are arranged in a style that resembles painting at a first glance, and makes me want to get lost in all the small details of each piece.
7. Christophe Gilbert from Belgium can manipulate plants into people, people into liquids, liquids back into people, and probably anything else you can think of. Gilbert creates work for advertising and commercials. He believes that small details can make a big difference, and the meticulousness shows in the finished product. His incredible skill has allowed him to work with clients like Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Sony Playstation, LG Electronics, and more.
8. Bara Prasilova from Czech Republic creates personal work and commissioned photo manipulations in a colorful, graphic style. Her project Evolve resembles fashion and advertising photography. “Through my photographs I have been trying to understand human relationships and connections: long hair symbolizes the invisible strings we use to strap somebody to us or, perhaps, the opposite, to let somebody loose. They are the threads of our emotions, worries and fears that we are afraid to loosen like hair.”
9. Martin Stranka lives in Czech Republic, and creates surreal photography which has won over 40 awards in the past years. His work “is etched as a unique space located in a balance and serenity, while his sophisticated and rewarding images exist in that narrow window of a few seconds between dreaming and awakening.”
Stranka’s work reminds me that simplicity can go a long way. Placing people in scenes, with his signature tones, Stranka creates powerful images that are filled with emotion and curiosity.
10. Sonia & Mark Whitesnow from Russia works as a team to create fine art photography with a great design and unique style. The figures in the project Burnt by the Sun look like they have been placed on the surface of another planet, attempting to survive. Their surreal qualities could be mistaken for moments out of an apocalyptic sci-fi movie.
Well, I hope this guide worked well for you as an inspiration source. Remember that photography is an art that’s mostly learnt by taking note of visual examples; so getting the right references for your work is setting a step ahead your potential competitors.