Doodling Up Your Photos


Conchita Fernandes shows you how you can interpret your imagination onto a photograph.

We’ve all seen minimalist photographs with expansive spaces of nothingness. While they are visually appealing, tell me if you have ever had an itch or an urge to grab hold of a pen or a marker and fill up the emptiness. Or maybe even draw snowflakes in the sky of a photograph of an arid desert scene?

If you haven’t had such thoughts then don’t worry. There is nothing wrong in simply appreciating a photograph for what it is. Yet, I want you to embark with me on a brief journey. I promise that it won’t take too long. But before we begin, I advise you to hold my hand as you might feel a little giddy, because what I am going to show you has a lot of magic and colour sprinkled all over it.

Photograph/ Thomas Lamde

Photograph/ Thomas Lamadieu

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time alone at home. With very little to do to entertain myself, I would either resort to my drawing book or something even better, my imagination. Like any other eight-year-old kid, I would daydream about strolling with dinosaurs or having a room of my own, where I could concoct magical potions. But as the numbers on my age card increased, I began to look at the world around me rather differently. The most vivid memory I have is staring down below my eight-storey building and looking despondently at the drab looking grey road. Would it be too much to ask for a rainbow coloured road? Would it confuse drivers? Otherwise I would wonder what if trees had wings to help them escape, each time someone approached them to cut them down? Or maybe even equipping school shoes with mouths to bite at anyone who deliberately stamped them?

Thomas Lamadieu uses the empty sky in urban landscapes to bring his whimsical characters to life.

Thomas Lamadieu uses the empty sky in urban landscapes to bring his whimsical characters to life. You can view more of his work here.

The good news is that all of this possible. Well, at least on paper. I have been following two artists, Thomas Lamadieu and Alexandra Valenti for quite some time now, who have been transforming every day visuals into beautiful works of art. As quoted from The Guardian, Lamadieu mentions, “The sky drawings series really started with as a way of playing with my imagination to show how these seemingly empty spaces in the urban environment could be reinterpreted in different and creative ways.” So while strolling down the street, if he finds an eye-catching shape created by buildings against the sky, he immediately makes a photograph. Later, he fills in these gaps using bearded characters, fuzzy felines and even a guitar playing rooster!  Moreover, he uses Microsoft Paint to achieve the quirky doodles!

Photograph/ Alexandra Valenti

Photograph/ Alexandra Valenti

Alexandra Valenti’s work, on the other hand, is more colourful and graphic. In her photographs, you will see horses with tribal face masks and ethereal looking bird-like creatures emanating from the bodies of women. I like that her project seems so effortless. You will be surprised to know that it only involves her shooting the picture, printing it and then painting on it. However, the painting part seems to be the most difficult step, as it is up to the individual to decide what he/she wants to convey.

Instead of resorting to Photoshop, Alexandra Valenti hand paints her prints to bring out the vibrancy of her subjects.

Instead of resorting to Photoshop, Alexandra Valenti hand paints her prints to bring out the vibrancy of her subjects. See more of her work here.

My purpose of introducing you to these two artists is to let you know that you don’t have to have amazing camera or drawing skills to achieve an effect of this calibre. Remember that Lamadieu and Valenti took the most mundane looking objects and transformed them into things that one could only wish this world was made of. So don’t be afraid of pushing the boundaries and don’t ever perceive that a photograph is sacred in the form that it exists in. It all boils down to what you want to convey through your picture and whether you want to take it a notch further and customise as per your ideas. In fact, what I have shown you is just one of the many countless paths that you can adopt to transform your pictures.

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

Tags: Perspective, Quirky, patterns, interpretation, visualise, Conchita Fernandes, photographs, colourful, opinion, may 2014, minimalist, Creativity, Buildings, Mundane, Imagination, Thomas Lamadieu, Alexandra Valenti, Sky Drawings, Doodles