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The secret to successful composite photography - part 1 - part 1 of 1 2 3 4

by George Fairbairn Published 01/10/2014

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Making the Impossible, Possible
Part 1: Planning and Shooting

Contrary to popular belief, composite photography is not new; it isn't something that was swept in on the back of the digital era, digital has just made it more accessible. There are many great examples of composites, or manipulations, throughout history. Look at the work of Grete Stern, Scott Mutter or Maurice Tabard for examples of what was possible long before Photoshop and digital cameras. How were these photographers able to achieve such inventive and realistic images in an age where everything was shot on film and developed in a lab? By following a few simple, but not always obvious rules.


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If you've attended one of my training classes you will know that I believe one of the most overlooked, but crucial parts of creating a realistic composite image is planning! Proper planning of any composite shoot isn't important; it's imperative and underpins everything that goes into the finished image.

For more complex composite images you can find yourself filling page upon page in a notebook with lighting, poses and narratives, etc ...for one image.

The amazing thing about composites is that if you take your time and plan, the actual photography and editing process is easy...very easy! When it comes to composites the old saying, 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail' rings painfully true and may even make getting any decent end result completely impossible.

Photographers who have turned their hand to composites will generally end up in one of three camps. First the, 'Have a Go But Ultimately NO' people, these are photographers who plough in without planning ahead and tend to give up after a couple of failed attempts. The frustrating thing is this; had they set down what they were trying to achieve before going out to shoot they would have seen an improved result and been inspired to try more.


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1st Published 01/10/2014
last update 06/11/2019 11:06:25

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