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Photography is now over a hundred years old, and it's been through some radical changes in this time. I'm not going to take you through the entire history because that's what Wikipedia is for. But I do want to stress out a few things about its interesting evolution. First of all, it uses the same principle as it did when it was invented: a darkroom, a lens and a surface sensitive to light. Second, retouching is just as old as photography. Back then, you would have had to rely on your hands and on chemistry. Temperatures had to be exact and doing jobs that we now consider easy could take a few days. I don't need to tell anyone where retouching is now.
So when you look back, you have this amazing transition from gigantic cameras mounted on tripods, to street photographers using Leicas, to Hasselblad marrying fashion and commercial photography and finally to digital and mobile photography. In all this time, retouching was there one way or another and we have finally gotten to a point where the only real limitation is imagination.
One of the most difficult post processing techniques ever is composite photography. Essentially, you have one final image composed from a lot of others. Sometimes you see an amazing photo and have no idea that it took hundreds of pictures to put it together. Some say this is not what real photography is. If you want to compare it to classic rangefinder photography where you go out on the street with a roll of film and shot whatever you find in available light, then you are right. But if you think about the fact that a composite image is made from many photographs that were created like all other photographs, you could reconsider.
I came across Erik Johansson's portfolio a while ago and ever since then I seem to hold his work as a reference. Some of you might know his photographs because they have a tendency to go viral. For those of you who don't, sit back and enjoy something that is truly unique in both a technical and an artistic sense. Johansson has full control over every image. That means he doesn't use any stock photography. He builds and shoots everything by himself. He is a self taught photographer and if one were to be mean, he is a slap in the face of all those who say you need an art degree to be a real photographer.
Once you have a first look at his portfolio, you'll notice the unmistakable style. His shooting and editing make him one of a kind, and the clients he's worked for are a statement to that.
I've picked eleven photographs from his portfolio to share with you, but to be honest, I could have selected them with my eyes closed because they're all stunning. Without further ado, the wonderful work of Erik Johansson.
Image Credit: Photographs by Erik Johansson provided and used with permission.