Discover the process behind our illustration photography

Illustration photography is a hybrid discipline in which photographic process is used to create images with a digital drawing approach. Also called composite photography, this kind of projects differ greatly from traditional photography not only in the final result but also in the amount of time it takes to carry them out. Discover in this article some secrets behind this type of images and its post-production work!

What are the main differences between this and other shootings?

The main difference lies in the number of photos that are shot according to each concept. This type of photography is carried out from a combination of two or more images to create the final piece, so the sessions are presented in pieces necessary for its achievement.

On the other hand, since the final image is not recorded in a single shot, the time of realization and post-production is much longer, making the sketch more important than ever and little is left to improvisation. In addition, the selection of the material is also more complex since it is difficult to imagine the final composition without bringing multiple options to the preparation of the assembly.

Conducción de chocolate a la taza - Fotografía conceptual para minería - CondukminConducción de chocolate a la taza - Fotografía conceptual para minería - Condukmin

In “before” you can see the base of the composition while in “after” you have the finished illustration photograph.

How do we prepare the shooting?

Any project is always divided into four phases: the ideation based on the briefing, the shooting preparation or  pre-production, the shooting and the post-production. In the second preparatory phase, the main thing is to be on the shooting with everything well controlled so that nothing is missing and we can focus exclusively on capturing.

It is important to break down the sketch into props, production elements and technical questions: what props will we have to buy or build, how will we place certain elements or if we will have to protect some surfaces.

Once we know everything that we must bring to the session and what we need to have under control, we will design the order of execution. To do this, we break down the final image in number of shots and define its order based on different variables. For example, it can be more consistent to go from simpler to more complicated, or from cleaner to dirtier depending on the shooting.

“Hot chocolate pipe system”: where does the concept of this series come from?

So that you can fully immerse yourself in the process of an illustration photography, we have prepared a making of video about how we assembly the image “Hot chocolate pipe system” made for the company Condukmin by Construtec

Originally, this concept was born as an creative way of talking about hydraulic piping systems for certain special occasions. In this case, storytelling derives towards mining and sludge transportation, so we chose chocolate as the main character of this conduction.

“Making of” video in which you can follow the live process of the final assembly of this “Hot chocolate pipe system”

Subsection! If you are curious to know how we train our thinking to come up with this and other concepts and to be less predictable, I recommend our article “Tune up your creativity with these unconventional Brain Attack techniques“.

How do we manage to hold everything?

The fun of this type of work is that there are no limits to the imagination, everything is possible! But for there to make it happen,  you almost always have to juggle a few. In this type of photographic compositions we build a general base where we shoot everything in focuses and from there, we work by areas and pieces.

The “pretty” method consists of holding the different elements of the composition with wires and magic arms little by little with each shot, looking for the ideal positions. In the fast version, Mary or I are the magic arm due to lack of time. Although if you do not have a very advanced post-production flow, I do not recommend this option since it is inevitable to interfere with the light or collide with the props and this will mean more than one headache when it comes to edition.

Different pieces photographed for the composition “Hot chocolate pipe system”

What complications arise when assembling the composition?

At the time of assembly, the greatest difficulty is the density of the process. Since it is very difficult to be meticulous about lighting and over-cleaning, we sacrifice speed during shooting in exchange for additional time for retouching.

On the other hand, documents are very heavy and have many layers, so it is very important to be tidy and strive to carry out a non-destructive edition that gives you flexibility when sketching different versions of the same composition.

Another complication, because of the big volume of material resulting from each session, is the time we spend selecting the images. To reduce it, we try to preselect throughout the shooting as much as we can and thus allow ourselves a more fluid review before composing.

Although we developed this concept with a very particular narrative, we have fallen in love with it, and we intend to create conductions as an infinite personal serie! On this link you can discover other kind of conductions we have created. Do not forget to subscribe to our blog!

Annie Domínguez Tenreiro

Creative & Art Direction

I love chestnuts and hate anything stinging, cutting and puncturing! As a child, I wanted to be a unicorn horsewoman and my worst mischied was to secretly use the Super Nintendo when I was punished. I play at being a Wordjuggler and I have declared war on tangerine pipes. I’m a little nerdy!


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