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Creating a Mind-Bending Composite Image | How You Shot It

By Antti Karppinen on June 20th 2015


I’ve been waiting for the right moment to revisit the idea from my award-winning wedding image (featured in this article here) where I changed the perspective of a typical wedding photo and turn it on its side (literally). Finally, another perfect project to do this mind-bending perspective came my way. The photo shoot was for Cardiff-based artist Jammy Harris, who just might be the next big thing coming to the UK music scene. The original request for the photo shoot came from producer Jolyon Dixon, whom I know through our kids who attend the same school.

Location Scouting

I started scouting locations for the shoot and I found this really cool location at Cardiff Bay where one stone formation/art piece is shaped like the letter J. I took initial cell phone shots of the location and tried to pre-visualize with some sketches of how the image would look. The plan was to make the image look like Jammy was sitting on this massive letter. Both Jolyon and Jammy liked the idea, and we proceeded. Here are some of my cell phone images of the location and some simple sketches I made before the shoot.



The Photo Shoot

We waited for good weather and then Jammy,  Jolyon and I were off to Cardiff Bay to make the shots. For me, the whole photo shoot was pretty straightforward. I had pre-visualized certain frames already in my head, so I only needed to find good poses for Jammy, with and without his guitar. In addition to the composite images, I also took some basic portraits of both guys and completed the photo shoot with some additional silly frames with the guys “hanging” off the wall. The main image was taken with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens. The portraits were taken with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens, which I really love.

jammyharris1-3 jammyharris1-2jammyharris1-4 jammyharris1-5 jammyharris1-6jammyharris1-7

The most difficult thing with this kind of photography is posing the model. To make the illusion work, the key is to figure out how to position the person lying on his back like he was sitting down normally when the image is turned 90 degrees. You need really good abdominal muscles to keep your head and upper body in the right position, so the photo shoot qualifies as a workout, too!

Retouching the Impossible

After the shoot, I started retouching the image. First, I cut out the unwanted parts of the image and then created the right kind of environment for that picture, piece by piece. I ended up doing a version where there is ocean in the background and far off you can see the New York skyline. The construction of the image is shown at the end of the behind the scenes video below.

Future Rockstar In The Making?

I am really happy that I had the chance to create this set of images for Jammy and Jolyon. Again, it reminded me that that work can come from totally random places – in this case, it came from the guy whose kids goes to the same school as mine. Since I never know where these precious contacts can come from, I carry my portfolio everywhere I go in case I need to show my work.

I really hope Jammy will make it; he truly is a really nice and humble guy. I’ve been playing his songs on repeat ever since I first heard them, and it’s not getting old! I’m sure you will agree that his songs should be played by the mainstream radio stations! Take a look for Jammy’s website and listen to the songs. I’m sure you will agree that he will be a star!

A big thank you to Jolyon for contacting me about this photo shoot… amazing art for amazing artists, I say! :D

To end this post, here is one of our more goofy unretouched perspective frames.


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Antti is a digital artist, photographer, and retoucher from Finland. He was awarded the Portrait photographer of Finland in 2013, a bronze medalist in the Photographic World Cup (WPC) and is an internationally awarded commercial photographer.

Antti’s mission is to build the visual experience, which tells the story of a company in a globally understandable way. He belongs to a new generation of image artisans, to whom all things are possible. He enjoys creating complex and original visual concepts and images with unlimited imagination.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Raymond Craig

    I really like that you’re taking the idea from your earlier wedding photo and pushing it further. Only thing that stands out to me are the windows up above. Seems like they should be reflecting the water, or is that just me?

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    • Antti Karppinen

      Yes, I think you are right. I think the color should be also bit darker .. thank you for comments!

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  2. Tom Johnson

    Nice, very creative.

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  3. Brandon Dewey


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  4. Joram J


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  5. Stephen Jennings

    Awesome composites, good job with the shoot and the editing!

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  6. Doug Davis

    Really great photo and I love the steps you took to make this happen.

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  7. Antti Karppinen

    Just got this weekend a word that this image got second place in PX3 image competition! Music Category ..

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  8. Barry Cunningham

    Generally very good, but the hanging guy in the last shot is not really convincing.

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    • Antti Karppinen

      The last shot was basically to show the goofy side of the photoshoot we had with the guys. It is unretouched photo and not a planned pose either .. :D

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