Digital Stylized photography, other wise known as Composite Photography is one of the most compelling and visually stunning forms of photography and digital art you'll ever see and a personal favorite of mine. A Digital Stylized photographer will create what's known as a composite image. These are made up of two or more photographs, which are combined to create one image. And while this definition makes compositing sound quick and easy, it's anything but, often times it requires several hours of photography and Photoshop work to complete a final piece. Believe it or not you've seen composite images in ads, on websites, in the news, even on your friend’s Instagram.
As a Cosplay Photographer myself naturally I'm friends with other Cosplay photographers and I'm often envious of their composite skills. Photoshop is my weakness so I take more of a cinematic or editorial approach that requires less Photoshop but I look up to my fellow artists who can take out the background, put their subject anywhere and add effects like light, background, particles, explosions and other images. One of these talented artists is my friend Anthony with Soul Studios in Seattle. I'm constantly in awe of his work so I asked him if he'd like to be my guest author for today's article and he obliged. Below you will find some of his work and his take on Digital Stylized photography. We hope this inspires you.
Painting with Light
Photography has been around for a long long time, but the way it has been done has shifted greatly since it began. Painting with light, that is what photography means, and these days photography is everywhere. With high resolution cameras at most people's fingertips with the technology of cell phones, everyone is a photographer.
Instagram is a popular tool used for capturing and editing photos, and with today's influx of selfies, landscapes, and random cell phone photos, it has become increasingly difficult to stand out. What makes a photo unique? Is it the subject matter? The lighting? The costume? Or maybe the Photoshop effects? To be honest, it is all of the above. In this digital age, photography is as immersive as any other form of digital media.
Define your Style
Finding the right balance of traditional photography vs. added digital effects is tough and one of the keys to making your photos stand out. Digital Stylized photography is something that can consist of any digital image. It does not have to be some crazy Photoshop composite to be a stylized photo, in fact I would say most are not. But effects can bring a photo to life and make a photo that one could see as dull stand out. There is not any one subject matter that is exclusive to this style of photography as any photo can be enhanced to a point. But there are subject matters that are made for this stylized approach to photography.
One of the most important things to find in doing stylized photography is your style. A style that defines you and how you want your images to look. This is 100% up to you, whether it is a high contrast look with low saturation, or adding film grain to give it that gritty feel. Finding what fits you and makes you happy is the most important. For example, something I add to all of my images is particles and atmospherics. I want my viewers to feel like they are looking at a real image, something that was taken in camera. So I try my best to make my images as camera accurate as possible, with some added pop of course.
Find your Process
Finding your process is also important. While it is very easy to see someone else’s gear and lighting set-up and try to copy every aspect of that to a T. But does it work for you? Or are you just doing what you think is the best way? Who said it was the best? What works for you? You are the artist and this is your vision. I often fight off the urge to compare my images to that of the amazing digital artists that I admire, wishing my images could look like theirs, and feeling like my work is no good once I look at both. But there is something to always remember. While having inspiration is so important, do not let that inspiration turn into doubt. Looking at someone's amazing work should never hold you back from creating something.
You are probably wondering how someone creates a digitally stylized photo. Well that is where your creative mind comes in. When I am shooting, I often try and have what I want the end result to be in my own mind, striving to make the subject look as close to that as I can in camera. This has many elements to it. Is the pose right? How about the angle? Does the horizon line match up? What is glowing? Do I need to adjust my lights to match how the light is going to be hitting them? What color is the light?
These are all things I think about when I am shooting my images. For example, if I know my subject is going to have an explosion behind them in my final image, I am going to want to put a orange light behind them to have that same glow of light that would come from the explosion. But that is my style of shooting, that is what works for me. And that works knowing my limits in my editing skills.
Break the Rules
Can you still do digital stylized photography if you are not a Photoshop wizard? Of course you can. Get creative and ask yourself, how can this photo stand out more? Should you get low and shoot up to make it look more dynamic? Should you try and get them mid-air so there is action in the photo? Try new things and think outside of the box.
Break the rules of photography and see what you can and can't do. It might not work, but that does not mean you have failed, that just means that you can try something else that might work. Whether you have the skill set to take your photo into Photoshop and add an epic explosion or someone holding a fireball. Or you love to do things in camera and you have your subject hold your flash to make them appear to be holding an energy ball. There is no right way to do photography. Be bold, be creative, and try new things.
Lance is a well known published Portland based Portrait photographer.