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Making the Impossible Come True with composite photography - part 1 of 1 2 3

by George Fairbairn Published 01/01/2014

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The wilder and wackier the image the more George Fairbairn enjoys it, and his funky style, which is driven by a mastery of composite techniques, has proved ideal for some highly adventurous band portraits.

They look real enough, but the surreal nature of what's going on tells you that, actually, this can't be right. Instead it's another figment of George Fairbairn's vivid imagination, and it's a sign of how strikingly good he is at combining elements within a picture that he can still achieve such a believable end result. He's a rising star in the world of portrait photography right now, and his skills have earned him an Associateship with the SWPP and a nomination for the Portrait of the Year title at the 2013 Convention Awards Night.

Now based near Cambridge, George hails originally from Chicago, and he first developed an interest in photography while at High School (roughly the equivalent of the sixth form in the UK). "I had a very inspiring photography teacher who saw a lot of potential in me and really pushed me," he says. "Even back then, I was fascinated with the 'grungier' side of things, and would venture into the not so safe areas of Chicago to try and capture the city. That dedication was rewarded when I was awarded a scholarship to the Art Institute of Seattle. Unfortunately, however, I decided to decline the offer because at the time I didn't want to move away from home, which was a little ironic really because two years later I was living in England, having been posted there with the US Air Force!


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"During my time in the Air Force photography definitely took a back seat. It wasn't until I was out of the military that I started to pick up my camera again. Another previous passion of mine was music, and I always felt I was never good enough to stay in a band, so I would head out to Cambridge and photograph different gigs and do promo portraits for the local bands. To me this was the even better than actually being in a band! It allowed me to develop my style and it introduced me to new music and friends. Eventually it all just turned into my job."

The nature of bands is to look for images that are a little edgy and unusual, and it encouraged George to explore the outer reaches of his imagination. The desire was to put together a concept that looked believable but wasn't possible, and the technique of bringing disparate images together in a composite shot was the ideal method for achieving an often surreal end result.

"I feel as though I've only really recently discovered 'my style,' says George, "and even now it's constantly changing/evolving.


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1st Published 01/01/2014
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