Month: July 2019

How to Take a Surrealist Photo

How to Take a Surrealist Photo

Maybe the lens makes a better Photoshop. But every surrealist photo I have made is like writing a poem with a camera. These are those techniques. Each of the images will pop up in a new window.

I started taking unusual photos using a large boxy Kodak digital camera in 2001. I found ways to take cool photos that made lights move, blur, bend and contort. It was quite a learning experience. Almost 20 years later, my techniques have not changed much since then. So, what are these techniques?

<h2Chris Girard PhD’s Photo Surrealism 101

Low shutter speed

Low shutter speeds are probably my favorite effect. It works on speeds ranging from 1/40 of a second and slower. It’s like creating a movie on a static piece of film. You could either effect the photo with movement from the camera, or it could be a combination of movement from wind, electricity and water.



The more out of focus, the better. The way to get this effect is with an out-of-focus telephoto lens to create a super blurry effect. Shampoo from 2005 is a good example using an out-of-focus telephoto lens. It was minimal, with warm and simple white walls from an ugly tungsten light that frame the shampoo and bath products around it.



Black space, which comes from under-exposure and shadows, create minimalism. It creates it in a photo composition by moving the eye towards the lightness surrounded by dark shapes. I found it works really well with scenes that have severe ranges of bright light and dark shadows.



Blending layers makes the best surrealist photo without a camera. There is an option on Photoshop’s layers to create double and triple exposures. They show the lightest and darkest parts blending into the other lightest parts, to create a feel of a reflective and three dimensional glass.


Photo Crops

Writing can dissolve in the way a sign is cropped and creates a meta-narrative and sub-text within that larger sign.



Posted by Chris Girard in Photo, Projects