Everything You Need To Know About Composite Portraits

February 03, 2015

If you're reading this you've probably seen on my site that I offer Alternative Portraits. They're also known as Composite Portraits and I bet you're wondering what either of them are. All photo's are done in one click right? Not necessarily. This guide is for those who don't know what they are. It's not a tutorial or how to do your own. It's just a simple explanation for those who simply don't know.

Composite portraits are made of up 2 or more images to create one single final picture. For the most part they're made up of two images. One usually a background and the other a person. Legendary advertising photographer Joel Grimes is a perfect example of this.

How are they made? Usually you would shoot the subject (model/person/persons) in a controlled environment. Eg: a studio or studio type setup. Then you would photograph the background separately and knit the two together in Photoshop.

Here's an example using a portrait of a Boxer I photographed recently:

Boxer PortraitBoxer Portrait©2015 Derek Johnston Photography
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Other examples of composite portraits are the sort of thing you see on movie posters. Take a look at any Marvel Comic movie poster. Typically Avengers, Iron-Man etc. They're all composites. Or work by Mike CampauCaleb Khul and Dave Hill. All masters.

So why do we shoot this way? These type of portrait's are typically good for when you just can't get the subject to the location. They're good because they're a lot more controlled. You can achieve thing's that you just can't do in a normal portrait. Take a look at my Giant Pinup picture for example. There is no way on this earth could I have photographed her looking that big leaning up against a tall building without shooting her separately and compositing her into a background shot. All the smoke, helicopters and car's on fire were added in photoshop too. Even the sky was changed from the original.

composite portrait photography southampton hampshireAttack of the 500 Foot Woman - Derek Johnston PhotographyAlternative Portrait Photographer based in Southampton, Winchester and the Portsmouth area's of Hampshire. Showcasing a variety of beauty, fashion, music, children and family photography.

Or Roller Derby Player: Psyclone DestroHer. Can you imagine trying to take a photo of her with a tornado in the background and launching cars in the air in our direction haha. Talk about dangerous and impossible. Er....ready the car's for launch again and tell the tornado to move back a bit...we need to take another shot her hair was over her right eye the last one.

Hopefully you've now got a bit more understanding on composite imagery and how they're made. If you want to have your own created then email me to start discussing some ideas!!! info@derek-johnston.co.uk

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