A Jigsaw in Pictures

 
I shot as many as 42 different photographs from different angles to make this collage. I used collages to frame my friends and family, but the technique can be used for any photograph. Photograph/Prerna Manker

I shot as many as 42 different photographs from different angles to make this collage. I used collages to frame my friends and family, but the technique can be used for any photograph. Photograph/Prerna Manker

Prerana Manker creates a series of patchwork collages, each made from a number of different photographs.

My Assignment

  • Description: To interpret photographer David Hockney’s style of patchwork through my own vision
  • Duration: It depends on the subject and location. Postproduction takes equal amount of time, and sometimes even more.
  • Notes: Even the most everyday and boring subjects can be brought to life via photo collages.

The concept of a ‘photo collage’, also known as a ‘photo montage’, is like a jigsaw puzzle that you put together. Legendary photographer David Hockney pioneered the creation of a unique kind of photo collage. He shot the same subject from a number of perspectives and positions, and then arranged these photographs to form a ‘patchwork’ image. This kind of collage is based on the theories of cubism.

My Perspective
I was inspired by cubism and the work of Hockney. In cubism, objects are broken up and reassembled in an abstract form. Instead of looking at things from one viewpoint, the artist shows the subject from many perspectives to see ‘the big picture’.

To me, this is an interesting exercise to understand how human vision works—how we move around a place and scan it from various angles. By including multiple perspectives in one collage, the viewer gets the impression that he/she is moving around the subject.

In this photograph, different parts of the room were shot at different magnifications, to help the small details to stand out. Photograph/Prerna Manker

In this photograph, different parts of the room were shot at different magnifications, to help the small details to stand out. Photograph/Prerna Manker

The Process
I decided to capture the people who surround me in my daily life, caught up in their own mental confinements. I moved around the room and took multiple photographs of the scene from different perspectives, angles and even different magnifications. I would sometimes zoom into a particular part of the frame, and at times move away and zoom out. This helped me highlight little things that would usually go unnoticed in a normal photograph.

Once I was done shooting, I placed the photographs together into one final collage. I realised that the ‘postproduction’ stage—where one arranges the pictures—can be done in two ways. One can actually take prints of the photographs and literally make a collage out of them by sticking them together piece by piece, manually. Alternatively, one can use a software like Adobe Photoshop to create the final collage, which is what I have done for these photographs.

After doing this exercise, I was surprised by the outcome of my own venture. What I had envisioned turned out to be something completely different, and that, perhaps, is the beauty of photography.

A 'jigsaw' look gives an incomplete feel to this image and helps engage the viewer, making him an active part of this image. Photograph/Prerna Manker

A ‘jigsaw’ look gives an incomplete feel to this image and helps engage the viewer, making him an active part of this image. Photograph/Prerna Manker

My Equipment: I used a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P200, but this assignment can be done with any camera. The most essential equipment is your imagination and a keen eye.

This article originally appeared in the Septemeber 2014 issue of Better Photography.

Tips to Making Your Own Jigsaw in Pictures

I moved around the room while shooting each picture. This gave a wider view and helped me creatively distort the bed and overall structure of the room in this picture. Photograph/Prerna Manker

 

  • Visualise your final collage while you are shooting. Once you have a basic idea, you can improvise along the way.
  • Experiment when it comes to arranging the photographs. They need not conform to how the frame has been originally devised. One can explore different ideas and make 2–3 different collages with the same set of pictures.
  • Initially, keep your subject simple—for example, a friend sitting in your room. Once you understand the technique, you can move on to shooting more complex subjects.
  • You need not take all photographs in one day itself. Each day is different and brings its own novelty to the scenario. The more images you have to experiment with, the more scope you have.
  • Concentrate on emphasising tiny objects that may otherwise not be so prominent; for example, a tiny watch or a vase on a table.
  • The borders of your image need not have limits. Hockney’s later works have frayed borders, almost giving a sense of incompletion to the big picture.

To see more of Prerana Manker’s work, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/pre-imaginarium

To know more about David Hockney and his style of photo collage, visit http://www.davidhockney.com/

Tags: zoom, Composition, Multiple exposure, abstract, prerna manker, collage, david hockney, january 2009, jigsaw