There are many ways in which artists use multiple images to create new works of art. If you’re thinking of manipulating your original photograph, or somehow incorporating it into your new work of art, here are some examples of artworks that might help you generate ideas.

Photo collage, or photomontage, is one of the oldest techniques of photo manipulation using more than one picture. This is where you take bits of different photographs and combine them into a new image.

Say, for example, your original photograph had some deep meaning, or sentimental feeling, which the average person wouldn’t necessarily see by looking at your photograph. Are there other images that you could combine with your photograph in order to make these unseen messages visible? Artists like Grete Stern loved using photo collage to explore the human subconscious, and to delve into the world of dreams.

GerteSternGrete Stern, Dream No. 5, 1950, photographic collage

Or, what if your original image has a lot of strange, disparate elements that couldn’t be easily recaptured in a new photograph? Maybe photomontage can help you re-envision your starting image as a brand new work of art. In many of his works, David Hockney uses several overlaid photographs to create clear landscape images.

pearblossomDavid Hockney, Pearblossom Highway, 1986, photographic collage

And don’t forget: you don’t necessarily need scissors and glue to make photo collages anymore. You can work with software like Adobe Photoshop.

The photo sequence is similar to the photomontage: but instead of overlapping many pictures in a single frame, this strategy uses a series of related images to tell a story or convey a message. The photo sequence could be an interesting way of starting with a single image and expanding it into a larger project. And don’t be shy about incorporating text into your artwork! Look at this example by Duane Michals.

DUANE-MICHALS.-Dr-Heisenbergs-Magic-Mirror-of-Uncertainty-1998-7Duane Michels, Dr. Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty, 1998

For the ambitious craftsman or craftswoman, there’s also photo sculpture. Photo sculpture is like a photo collage, except the photographs are joined together to create three-dimensional objects. Local artist Michael de Courcy was a pioneer in photo sculpture, and was featured in a major show, Photography Into Sculpture, which opened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art back in 1970.

DecourcyMichael de Courcy, Untitled, 1970

Why not expand your original image by bringing it to the third dimension? This might be something to consider – provided you have the patience, the know-how, and the suitable source material to work with.

A lot of artists have created rich and complicated images by taking pictures of pictures. Some photographers, like Vivian Maier, have photographed reflective surfaces such as windows and mirrors, so that the reflection becomes another image inside the photograph. What’s interesting about Maier’s work is that we, as viewers, can see the camera that captured the image we’re currently looking at. Maier’s work was only discovered after her death, but it’s so intriguing that many people are trying to learn more about her life and practice.

maierVivian Maier, untitled photograph, c. 1950s

Other artists, such as Anne Collier, have actually photographed photographs. If you look closely, you’ll see that her image of an eye, shown below, is in fact a page in a book she’s photographed. The work is mystifying. It somehow seems very close-up and intimate, even though the book creates an extra degree of separation between the subject (the eye) and the viewer (you and me).

Anne CollierAnne Collier, Eye (Enlargement of Color Negative), 2007, C-print

Can you think of any reason why you’d want to somehow include your original image in your new artwork? Or make a new image that incorporates the phone on which your original image was captured?

Remember, it’s important to always have a powerful intention behind your artwork. Saying, “I wanted to do this because I thought it would look cool” isn’t enough. Always challenge yourself to make strong choices.

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