Piece things together
James Paterson explains how to create a portrait collage inspired by the famous photo-joiner artworks of David Hockney and other artists
Back in the 1980s, the artist David Hockney pieced together Polaroid photos into collages that showed a subject from multiple angles. Hockney’s joiners captured the public imagination. Since then, the technique has been muchimitated, to the point where it has almost become a bit old hat. There’s even a phone app – the Hockneyizer – that will do the job for you, which is probably about as far from the original spirit of the idea as you can get.
But experiment with this photo collage technique and you’ll find there’s still life in it, in the unusual point of view that it creates and the effect that it has on an everyday scene. Hockney’s joiners were all about playing with space and time – he was interested in how our eyes see a scene by picking out details and studying them from different angles, and how we turn a 3D world into a 2D image. If we stay true to those ideals when shooting the images we need for this, then the results can be stunning.
So to begin with, we shoot a set of portraits taken from different angles, some cropped in tight, others looser. Variety is a good thing here, as subtle differences between the frames will help to set them apart.
From here you’ve got two options – you can arrange your collage in Photoshop, piecing the images together and then adding shadows to suggest depth. Or you can take the old-school approach and print out the photos and arrange them by hand. We’ll explain both of these methods over the page.