Painterly & Artistic Composites | by Leslie Schoen


I can’t tell you how honored I was to be asked to share a little about the composite work I have been playing around with. I have long had this idea of combining photographs with art. Initially, I played around with mixed media, transferring photos onto different surfaces like wood or tape and using other art media over top. I never felt I could execute what I was imagining. I picked up a Somerset Digital Studio Magazine and saw all these wonderful things you could do with iPad apps. I splurged and bought an iPad pro and made a list of all the iPad apps included in that magazine. I had a lot of fun playing around with these and trying to learn more about them, creating whimsical images. But I didn’t take it very serious and put it down for over a year.

I had been doing a lot of research on studio lighting, and learning to use artificial light. Around this time, I came across the work of Brooke Shaden. I loved the concept of combining images to create art and was inspired by her! I was also inspired by how she manipulated the lighting in these compositions to make them blend more seamlessly. I began imagining taking studio images and combining them with outdoor images. I had no idea how exactly this would work or even if I would like the end result. But I took a risk and started renting a studio space with this concept in mind.


This image (above) was my first composition image, using two older images. I was hooked! I felt like I was creating, like I was painting. I loved the feel of the pencil to the iPad, instead of using a mouse on my computer.


This next image (above) was the first composition image I intentionally set out to create. I started in my studio and took some self portraits then drove around taking photos outside that could be used as a background. I was feeling discouraged and disappointed after looking over the self portraits, I wasn’t happy with anything. But as I started combining the images, and saw things coming together, I was thrilled! When I shared this image, I was blown away by the response and can’t describe how rewarding it was to hear after feeling a little vulnerable putting myself out there in a way I hadn’t before.

In these compositions, I am inspired by the world around me. I try to carry my camera around as much as I can and stop to take photos of scenes that could be used later (an open field with a dramatic sky, freshly fallen snow, a foggy morning …) I like using images of people that allow for movement and flow, or clothing that seems to blend into the surroundings. I am hoping to be able to do this for clients some day.

The apps that I most often use, though not always all of them, are: Snapseed, Superimpose, Skylab, Procreate, Brushstrokes, Stackables, Distressed FX, iColorama, Retouch, Lens Distortions, and Lightroom CC. Here is a breakdown of how one images looks from start to finish.

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