For this process I'm going to need an example, the third image in my recent project By Process of Imagination will work just fine!
Step 1 - Find Inspiration
Yes of course, the first step is to work out what you want to create. I imagine you are reading this because you either already have a completely original concept that you want to bring to life, or you want to try your hand and compositing and want to know where to start. If you're the latter of those two categories then there are a few places to start:
- Have you had any interesting dreams that you could form into one photographic scene?
- An idea or concept that you wish to illustrate.
The best way to get started is to hit Google and start researching different effects and looks. A simple search for 'Composite Photography Effects' can return thousands of ideas that you can pull apart and fit into a completely different photograph idea. If you can't think of something wholly original, then it's best to find inspiration from other places but try and make the overall image something unique to your style.
My inspiration for a number of things in this project was Disney Pixar's 2001 'Monsters, Inc'. In particular for this image, there's a scene in which Mike and Sulley are flying around a warehouse of doors, each of which goes to another place (similar to the idea that runs throughout my project). I also knew that I wanted it to be laid out in a form that reminds me of prison cells (highly structured and routine).
Step 2 - Draw up a Plan
Don't worry you don't have to be master artist and draw up a fully detailed sketch, I can personally draw about as well as I can fly, but for this image in particular there was no need to touch pencil to paper at all. For this image I drew the plan inside Photoshop and then replaced the parts as they were photographed; however, if your image is highly complicated (not so many straight lines and simply structures) and you really cannot draw then you can skip straight to Step 3.
To show you how detailed they really need to be (and prove my lack of drawing capabilities) I thought I'd include a sketch for an idea that I have not made yet. The simplicity of the sketch doesn't matter so much, its more that you get an idea for what you would like to include and where you would like to place objects within the scene once you have captured them.
Step 3 - Make a List
Time to find out everything you need to photograph, this stage is good because it can also give you a good estimate of the time frame that it'll take you to finish. If you came to this stage by skipping Step 2 then you're going to need to be able to picture the scene you wish to create in as much detail as possible in order to make the list. Here's what I needed for the main picture:
- 16 doors (I ended up using 10).
- 4 images of the subject; 2 walking, 1 crouching and 1 climbing.
- 4 types of wall for backgrounds.
- Concrete material for the ledges.
- Light bulbs.
Here's a list of the things I will need to photograph in order to make the as-of-yet incomplete sketch above:
- Subject image from behind.
- A hill with a small treeline (a small cluster of trees may compliment the image just as well as one tree would).
- A pathway through grass.
- A doorway with a light behind it.
- 3 starry night images to pick and choose aspects from.
- 1 milky way image.
- 2 earth/mud pattern images to create the planets from.
Coming in Part 2...
In the next instalment of this blog series I will cover how you should photograph the parts in order for them to fit well into a scene and how important lighting is in making a realistic composite.
Thank you for reading part 1 and I hope to see you back here for part 2. To get a notification when the post is live, head on over to my social media pages and follow me!