Composition for impossible photography



Working in two dimensions is easy.

The trick is to make our photograph look like 3D. Well, Erik Johansson has taken this one step further. He likes to trick the eye with his photography. His subtle constructions in the pictures make you look, think and look again. Most of his pictures are actually impossible. But the images are constructed so as to realise the reality in impossibility.

If that sounds convoluted, so are his pictures. In the video Johansson not only talks around the way he conceived the pictures, be also describes the compositional theory behind them. It’s very simple, but it is also illuminating for our general ideas about perspective and reality.

Enough from me. This short video (6mins.22secs) will fill you with ideas and give you some new perspectives… enjoy!

Erik Johansson: Impossible photography

Filmed Nov 2011 • Posted Feb 2012 • TEDSalon London Fall 2011
TED – Ideas worth spreading  External link - opens new tab/page

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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4 responses to “Composition for impossible photography

  1. This was great! I have seen his work before and really find it fascinating, so it was fun to discover the “how” of his work. I remember once a person saying that the amazing thing about geniuses was that they could break down the complex to simple and I see that in his pictures. They are complex, but the process to construct them is really quite simple. Definitely something to try out in the future!

  2. Jose A De Leon

    I’ve seen Erik’s work before and it’s astonishing. Not only his pre-planning of the shot that amazes me, but the post-processing in Photoshop is truly remarkable. If their is a Photoshop master out there, this guy falls in that category. I just wish he made a book explaining the techniques behind it. I would buy it in a blink. Nice job again Damon.