Composite Photography: Does It Make You Less of A Photographer?
Day in and day out, I photograph children, families, high school seniors, and couples. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and the variety of genres I photograph. However, several months ago, it hit me. I needed to offer something unique to my area, something I do not see every day on my Facebook newsfeed from the other local photographers. I also felt that my typical sessions were holding back this awesome bottle of creativity buried inside of me just yearning to get out!
My Beginnings in Composite Photography
I began dabbling in composites. I turned to resources such as Phlearn and CreativeLive to soak in as much information as I could on the craft. I looked for inspiration from the some of the “greats” – Adrian Sommeling, Robin Chavez, and Joel Robinson. There was something about taking multiple images and blending them into one creative art piece that really fascinated me!
I needed to test the waters, per se. I began posting the images on my Facebook page around Christmas time to see if local potential clients had the same appreciation for them as I did. The response was wonderful! Comments and messages started pouring in. Parents were really interested to know how we could make something like this happen for their children! I chose to get more practice in before offering them to clients, but made note of all who were interested so that I could contact them when the time came.
This particular image is what sparked the interest amongst my Facebook followers:
I also shared the images in several photographer’s groups on Facebook. I quickly realized that some photographers viewed composites as making you less of a photographer, or cheating. I disagree with this opinion, and here is why.
As photographers, whether working with natural light or artificial lighting, we have to know how to see/manipulate the light. We need a deep understanding of depth of field and things like composition. When creating composite photographs, these are a few important things to keep in mind.
What Makes A Composite Believable? .
Perspective: Whether you are combining two images or ten, the perspective must match throughout the image.
Depth of Field: Placing just the right amount of blur in just right the right places is crucial to keeping the depth of field accurate when combining multiple stock images.
Lighting and Highlights/Shadows: The direction of your source light, whether it be the sun, the moon, a lantern, or a combination of light sources, needs to be spot on. It can make or break a composite, and it was something I spent a lot of time trying to master. Highlights and shadows must also match your light source.
Tones: The tones in a composite should be fluent throughout the image. If the background is warm, your foreground should be as well. I have learned several tips on blending tones that I will share in future articles.
I can honestly say that without my experience as a photographer and an understanding of the basic fundamentals of photography, I would be lost with my composites. Composites are tedious, time consuming, and require skill. Is it digital art? Sure it is. Does that make me less of a photographer? Absolutely not.
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Below is my latest composite. And you best believe I will be doing many more, whether for personal use, or for my clients.
I wrote a blog post on the image above to show the set-up and give a general idea of how I came to the end result in post processing. You can find it here!
Please feel free to follow me on Facebook to see more of my composite work, as well as my “photography.” Ahem..
About the Guest Contributor
Sparkle Hill is a photographer based out of Canton, Georgia. She specializes in children, high school seniors, couples, and families. In early 2015, she began venturing into more artistic composites.
Sparkle strives every day to find the balance between marriage, three children, her photography career, and reaching out to advise beginning photographers however and whenever she can.
And yes, that is her real name. :)