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Creativelive Photo Challenge: Create A Portrait Collage

Creativelive Photo Challenge: Create a Portrait Collage

The Challenge

Create a portrait that is more than a single image. Instead, collage a series of images together to create something more abstract, more unexpected, and perhaps more visual depth. This can be done in photoshop or by physically tearing and layer a variety of photographer.

Collage together a series of images of a single subject, or collage the subject with other unique elements of nature, a cityscape, fashion or whatever your heart desires!

Inspiration and Tips

Creating collages can be something very physical and visceral. You can rip, tear, cut, layer until something ‘feels good’ or you can use a more strategic approach. Furthermore, you don’t always need to layer a photo with another photograph. Consider layering magazine clippings, pieces of other paintings, photos you’ve taken from completely different shoots, and more. Why not try mixed media?

If you enjoy Photoshop as your realm for creative expression, you can certain collage here too! You can piece together images and even add creative edges to the photographs using Photoshop brushes. Take a look at the hundreds of free brush packs online that might inspire you — burned paper edges, torn paper, paint spatter, and more. (Try:,, and hundreds more).

If you are using Photoshop, don’t think of this as the same approach as a composite where you put together multiple pieces to appear as if shot in the same scene. Instead, the fact that the pieces clearly do not belong together or have been pieced together after the fact is part of the visual appeal!

While there are many collage artists whose work specifically utilizes this approach, I wanted to share a couple of photographers who periodically employ collaging in their work. The first photographer, GL Wood, is a fashion photographer I came across when I first moved to NY. When I got my first photo rep, he was represented by the same agency and I was instantly drawn to his work. While he is a photographer, he definitely considers himself an artist beyond the confines of simply ‘photographer’. In many of his editorials you could see that he would print, tear, reprint, layer and create extremely compelling collages and he embraced both ‘physical’ effects and Photoshop adjustments to manipulate his imagery to achieve the final result.

One of the things I loved about this artist is that his extremely creative results also appeared in his commercial work — he was hired to create images in his unique style with clients ranging from Nicki Minaj to Converse to high-end magazine editorials.

Collage Beauty Concepts by GL Wood

Photos by GL Wood

Next, I wanted to share the photographer and collage artist Pablo Thecuadro. His work is fascinating, and every time I look at one of his images I find myself revisiting it again and again. Each time I discover something new — a new detail, a new layer, or a new interpretation of the image. The photos themselves are striking, and his layering reveals even more about the work on a psychological level.

According to the artist himself: “The collages I make express the duality in the human being, who we want to be versus who we really are and what part of us we show to others.” I invite you to explore this work and you can certainly see how the artist’s statement reflects the fashion, beauty, portrait and fine art collage work he creates. Honestly, I’m kind of in love with it at the moment!

Artists for Inspiration

GL Wood
Pablo Thecuadro

Have more inspiration to add? Absolutely feel free to add other links and artists you admire in the comments section so we can all share and be inspired!

My solution

I’ve never created a collage portrait by hand before. Once or twice I have collaged images together in Photoshop simply for fun and experimentation. For this challenge, I decided to ‘get physical’ and actually print out the images, tear them apart, and layer them back together!

Since this would be very first attempt that this concept, I decided to keep everything pretty simple and straightforward as a first opportunity to hone my collaging skills. In the future I certainly hope to get a little more creative and conceptual, but first… time to practice!

For this first collage portrait, my setup was very simple. I placed my subject sitting next to a window (to the left of the frame) in front of a white wall that would act as my background. Then I took a series of emotive portraits of my beautiful subject Ireland. Some shots were straight on, some with her eyes closed, some with her hand to her face, and more. I also captured a variety of crops… some with the entire head and shoulders, while others a bit tighter crop on her face.

The next step was to print out these images and I did so with my Canon imagePROGRAF Pro-1000 printer on a basic luster paper. I printed out 4 or 5 images, and then… just started to tear. It took a little practice to figure out which direction to tear so that ragged edge of the paper would be on the piece of the photo I would be keeping and collaging (I wanted the ragged edge as a way to add visual interest).

Black and white portrait of model touching neck - photographed by Lindsay Adler for the Creativelive Collage photo challenge

Lindsay Adler behind the scenes for creativelive collage challenge


After tear pieces with each part of her face (a slice for the eye, the lips, the hands, etc), I then began to layer the photos in different configurations. Once I settled on a composition that I liked, I simply used a glue stick and a black piece of foam core to put it all together! It was so much fun that I am definitely going to have to try this again!


Collage Portrait by Lindsay Adler


Creativelive collage portrait challenge image by Lindsay Adler

Creative Team:
Model: Ireland from SMG Models
Hair and Makeup: Glynne Davies

Camera Settings:
Shutter speed: 1/320 second
Aperture: F/3.2
ISO: 1250
Metering: Manual
Focal Length: between 120-200mm

Join the Creativelive Photo Challenge

I’ve shared my resulting image, and now it is time to share yours! Each month I’ll personally be selecting winners to be featured by Creativelive. Be sure to enter as we’ll be giving away some amazing prizes including a Canon imagePROGRAF 1000 printer to one lucky grand prize winner!

Creativelive Photo Challenge 2017

If you’d like even more inspiration, check out my book “Creative 52” for more ideas to invigorate your photography portfolio! I can’t wait to see what you create! I hope I inspire you, because my photographic community is always inspiring me!

Enter the Challenge


Used during this shoot

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