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10 Photo Assignments to Inspire and Challenge Your Skills

Liz Masoner is a professional photographer and she shares her tips and techniques on photo editing and how to photograph nature, portraits, and events with film and digital cameras. Liz has over 30 years of experience and she is the author of three books on photography.

The best way to learn photography is to practice, though sometimes you can get stuck in a rut and not know what to shoot. That is why photographers love assignments; they give us a purpose and an idea of what to photograph. 

Why Are Assignments Important?

Self-assignments are key to any photographer's growth. Even professionals with decades of experience will work on personal assignments that they may never get paid for. The goal of any self-assignment is to spur creativity, solve problems, learn new techniques, and challenge yourself.

As you start out in photography, you're probably filled with excitement and ready to shoot anything you can. That being said, sometimes a little direction and guidance are necessary.

Below, you will find ten photography assignments. Each covers a new topic, skill, or concept and they were chosen to help you learn how to see as a photographer. They are meant to be a personal challenge that you can complete at your own pace and with no outside judgment, simply as a means to practice and improve your photography. Hopefully, you will learn something new with each assignment and be able to use that in every photograph you take in the future.

Remember when composing your images to keep in mind the basics: the rule of thirds,  shutter speed , aperture,  depth of field , and  exposure .

Assignment #1: Up Close

This assignment encourages you to get close and personal with your subject. It is an exercise in viewing a common object in a new way and examining its finer details.

  • Choose an object that you see or interact with every day.
  • Focus on a small part of it, get as close as your camera will allow you to focus, and shoot away.
  • Try to capture different angles and unusual lighting to add to the mystery of this tiny world.

From the whiskers of your cat to a fragile Christmas ornament, and even common soap bubbles, there is an entire world that we often overlook because we don't get close enough.

Assignment #2: Motion

Photography is a static medium which means that it doesn't move. Conveying a sense of motion is often crucial to capturing a scene or emotion and it is an essential skill for photographers to practice.

The goal of this exercise is to understand how shutter speeds can be used to convey motion.

  • Choose a subject or series of subjects that will allow you to convey motion in your images.
  • It can be slow motions, like that of a turtle, or fast motion, like a speeding train.
  • Blur it, stop it, or simply suggest that there is motion in the photograph.

Challenge yourself to capture the same motion in different ways. For instance, you might go to a race track and stop the movement of the cars completely in one image, then leave the shutter open and allow them to blur out of the frame in the next. 

Assignment #3: Shadows

Shadows are everywhere and they are vital to photography because this is the art of capturing light. With light comes shadows and when you begin to look at shadows as a photographer, your world will open up.

  • Take a look around for shadows and record them with your camera.
  • You could show the shadow as the total focus of the image. Perhaps the shadow is incidental to the subject.
  • Is the shadow natural or created by flash?

Shadows are integral to creating depth in a two-dimensional medium such as photography. Take some time to seriously explore the "dark side" of the light.

Assignment #4: Water

Water is everywhere in photography and it presents many challenges. There are reflections and movements to work with and in this exercise, you will take a deeper look at water.

  • Find water anywhere: lakes, streams, puddles, even the glass on your kitchen table.
  • Pay attention to reflections and use them to your advantage in the photographs. Use this opportunity to get familiar with a polarizing filter (a very useful tool in your camera kit) so you can accentuate or eliminate reflections.
  • Play with the motion of a stream or the crashing waves. Notice the difference between stopping the flow of water and allowing it to blur to create a real sense of movement.

Be sure to make water the subject and not an accent to the image. Water alone is beautiful and mysterious and your challenge is to explore all of its potential as a subject.

Assignment #5: Leading Lines

A classic assignment in photography schools, 'leading lines ' is a popular and fun subject. The goal of this assignment is to learn how to direct the viewer to your subject using lines.

  • Choose a subject then look around for lines in the scene that you can use to 'lead' the viewer to the subject. 
  • Find an interesting line then determine what the subject of your photograph is.
  • Remember that lines can be man-made or natural. For instance, the yellow line down the middle of the road or a tree branch. Even a person's arm can be a leading line of their face.

Use this assignment as an excuse to take an afternoon photo excursion. Walk downtown or in the woods and look around you for interesting lines that lead the eye to a subject. There is an amazing assortment of lines out there in the world and once you begin to see them, you won't be able to stop. 

Assignment #6: Perspective

How do you normally stand when you shoot? If your answer is straight up like a 5-foot-something human being then this assignment is for you. The perspective assignment challenges you to view the world from an entirely new perspective, which in turn gives the viewer a new look at the ordinary.

  • Take another afternoon or evening for a photo excursion wherever you like.
  • This time, every time you find something to photograph, stop!
  • Ask yourself: How would a squirrel see that tree? How would a robin view that birdbath? How would a snake view that log?
  • Take your photographs from very high or very low angles. Get on your belly or stand on a chair, whatever you have to (safely) do to get the 'right' angle on your subject.

If you pay attention to professional photographs, many of the images that have the WOW factor are photographed from extreme angles. People enjoy these photos because they've never seen an object from that viewpoint. It is new and unique, and you can train yourself to shoot with this in mind.

Assignment #7: Texture

You may have captured a few textural details in the 'Up Close' assignment, but this assignment takes that to the next level. The goal in this one is to study textures and forget about the object itself: the texture becomes the subject. You will also begin to realize how light affects the appearance of texture.

  • Find a few objects that have very detailed textures like trees or rocks, even knit sweaters or woven rugs.
  • Photograph them as close as your lens will allow.
  • Use different angles and capture the same texture as the light changes. Notice how the different lighting directions and camera angles can change how much texture appears.

Textures are all around us and many of the best photographs in the world play up the textural element. This assignment should teach you how to recognize and accentuate those elements in your photos.

Assignment #8: Color Harmony

Color is important to photography because the world is full of color. This exercise requires a bit of study in color theory, which you will then put into practice in your photographs.

Do you remember art class in elementary school? You may have learned that yellow and blue make green, but color theory goes beyond that. There are cool and warm colors, complementary and contrasting colors, neutral colors, and bold colors.

It can get quite complicated, and photographers should have a basic understanding of color so you can use that when composing photographs. You don't have to study color like a painter would but can use tricks used by interior designers to influence your color decisions.

  • Once you have an idea of color theory, take another photo excursion and put what you've learned into practice.
  • Capture photographs with the primary or tertiary colors.
  • Look for complementary colors then contrasting colors to photograph.
  • Try finding a scene to photograph that is filled with neutral colors, then one that uses a bold color to 'pop' from the scene.

This is an advanced lesson, but one that any photographer working with color images will find useful. As you practice working with colors, it will become second nature and you will know how to work with color to change the feel of your images.

Assignment #9: Emotions

Take a photo of a person smiling or scowling, right? Not so. The intent of this assignment is to convey emotion in photographs  without  a face.

  • Take photographs that express each of the basic emotions: happy, sad, and mad.
  • How would you express the feeling of anger with no person? What about happiness? Sadness?

This is a purely conceptual assignment, but it is important to be able to relay emotion in your photographs and you might not always have a person available to do that with. Challenge yourself to think deeper about this one.

Assignment #10: Don't Look!

Are you ready to put your photography skills to the test? In today's world of digital cameras and the ability to see image captures right there on the LCD screen, photographers are losing some of the skills needed to visualize a photograph.

In this assignment, your challenge is to shoot as if you were using a film camera. That means that you will not look at the photographs you've taken until they are downloaded on your computer. Instead of relying on the camera's screen to see if you 'got the shot' you will rely on your instinct and knowledge, just like photographers did before digital photography. Can you do it?

  • Plan a photo excursion to a particular location and permit yourself to photograph only 36 images (a roll of 35mm film).
  • Turn off your camera's LCD screen so it does not show you the image after you have taken it.
  • If you cannot turn off the camera's screen, cut a piece of thick paper and tape it over the screen. Use masking or painter's tape so you don't leave a residue on the back of your camera.
  • Go out and shoot your 36 frames, thinking carefully about each image because you don't have an endless number of shots. Bonus points if you turn your camera to completely manual settings for focus and exposure.
  • Don't peek at your photos until you get home and download them.

How did you do? Were you able to get good exposures on your own? How did it feel to be 'blind' and not know how your image turned out right away? 

This is similar to what it is like to shoot with film and it does require you to think harder about every image you take. Next time you shoot, slow down and pay attention, pretend that the screen is not there and rely on your own skills to create a great image. You will be a better photographer in the end.

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40+ Best Photo Manipulation Tutorials for Photoshop

Photo manipulation art has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to the growing accessibility of tools like Photoshop and the rise of social media platforms that allow digital artists to easily share their work with a broader audience.

Some common themes in photo manipulation art include surreal landscapes, magical or mystical creatures, dreamlike scenes, and dystopian or futuristic worlds. These images combine elements from multiple photos or digital assets, creating a unique composition.

Learning photo manipulation may take a little time and practice, but anyone can learn with dedication and access to the right tools, like Photoshop, and resources, like brushes , textures , and layer styles .

With these photo manipulation tutorials, you will discover how to create mind-bending, otherworldly images that push the boundaries of reality, using techniques like compositing multiple images together, creating intricate photo collages, and adding special effects like flames or explosions.

You will also learn a wide range of new skills for editing, altering, and enhancing digital images that will allow you to expand your skill set in Photoshop. Let’s learn how to turn your ordinary photos into artistic masterpieces!

The Top Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorials for Creatives

How to create a fantasy underwater scene with photoshop.

In this highly imaginative tutorial, you will learn how to photo-manipulate a fantasy woman that is gently floating underwater.

A Fantasy Underwater Scene with Photoshop

How to Create a Beautiful Sunrise Landscape Photo Manipulation

In this tutorial, you’ll create a photo-manipulated sunrise landscape in Photoshop, learning how to combine different images to create a cohesive scene.

Beautiful Sunrise Landscape Photo Manipulation tutorials

How to Create Surreal Digital Art in Photoshop

Starting with a simple city image, in this tutorial, you will learn how to recreate the below manipulation, entitled “Dark Power Unleashed.”

Dark Power Unleashed tutorial Surreal Digital Art in Photoshop

How to Create a Science Fiction Environment in Photoshop

With this tutorial, you will learn how to create the below science fiction scene, learning how to set up your color scheme, set your perspective, and how to create a monster robot.

A Science Fiction Environment With Photoshop

How to Create a Fantasy Fiery Portrait Photo-Manipulation

You’ll learn how to create realistic fire and lighting to bring this ‘fiery portrait of a woman’ together.

A Fantasy Fiery Portrait Photo-Manipulation

How to Create a Planet Explosion Effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create an impressive planet explosion effect using a few simple manipulation and selection techniques.

An Awesome Planet Explosion Effect in Photoshop

How to Create a Horror Movie-Themed Photo Composition

In this tutorial, you will learn how to, by using the appropriate light balance, use of mid-tones, depth of field, and blending, create this horror movie manipulation.

A Horror Movie-Themed Photo Composition

How to Create a Dark, Conceptual Photo Manipulation

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a realistic and dark photo manipulation by learning lighting and blending techniques, as well as some helpful post-production tips.

A Dark Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Stock Photography

How to Create a Giraffe Neck Knot in Photoshop

You will learn how to recreate a realistic giraffe with a neck knot and how to apply a spotted skin pattern to the knot shape.

A Giraffe Neck Knot Tutorial

How to Undress a Giraffe in Photoshop

This tutorial demonstrates how to undress a giraffe by removing its spots and how to turn them into clothing that is hung over an ironing board.

Undressing a Giraffe in Photoshop tutorial

How to Create a Dark Abstract Crow Photo Effect

This tutorial will show you how to create a dark abstract photo manipulation with crows and then give it a disintegration effect.

A Dark Abstract Crow Photo Effect

How to Create an Intense Blade Runner Inspired Composition

You will learn how to create a photo manipulation of a Blade Runner on an interior skyscraper, learning techniques that will help you create better matte paintings and photo manipulations.

An Intense Blade Runner Inspired Composition

How to Convert a Portrait Into a Creepy Human Puppet

You will learn how to create a creepy human puppet hybrid, as seen below, using just a regular portrait photo of a beautiful model.

Convert a Portrait Into a Creepy Human Puppet

The Creation of ‘Thinker’ Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn the processes for creating this ‘Thinker’ photo manipulation in Photoshop. You will learn how to use a model image and combine it with simple abstract lines and a few flying stones.

The Creation of Thinker Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

How to Create a Colorful Retro Poster Tutorial

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create the below colorful retro poster using stock photos and also learn some creative techniques that can be used in your other projects.

A Colorful Retro Poster Tutorial

How to Create an Eerie Abstract Photo Manipulation

You will learn how to create this eerie abstract photo manipulation called ‘The Pain,’ learning how to combine different stock photos and apply a cold color tone to them.

Create an Eerie Abstract Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Space Battle Scene in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create the below sci-fi artwork that includes a spaceship, planets, and a galaxy.

A Space Battle Scene in Photoshop

How to Create a Professional Widow Photo Manipulation

In this manipulation tutorial, you will learn how to effectively create realistic fire, how to smoothen skin, and how to create realistic lighting effects.

Professional Widow Photo Manipulation Tutorials

How to Design a Futuristic Abstract Portrait

This tutorial will walk you through the steps of creating your very own futuristic artistic portrait.

Design a Futuristic Abstract Portrait

How to Create an Emotional Soft-Tone Photo Manipulation

This Photoshop tutorial will show you how to blend a beautiful lady with a dreamy background. You will also learn how to create the color, add lighting, and make contrast adjustments to fit everything into this emotional art piece.

An Emotional Soft-Tone Photo Manipulation

How to Create an Elephant Sundae Using Photo Manipulation Techniques

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create, using stock images, an elephant sundae.

An Elephant Sundae Using Photo Manipulation Techniques

How to Create a Lamb’s Coat in Photoshop

Here you will learn how to recreate a lamb’s coat in Photoshop using several stock images.

Creating a Lambs Coat in Photoshop

How to Create a Surreal Photo Manipulation of a Monk

This tutorial will teach you how to create a cave by transforming and merging different rock parts.

A Surreal Photo Manipulation of a Monk in the Caves

How to Create a Magical Photo Manipulation

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will learn how to not only photograph the photos required but also how to retouch them and combine them with stock photos to create art that resembles a sketch.

A Magical Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Leafy Face Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create the below ‘Leafy Face’ manipulation in Photoshop.

A Leafy Face Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

How to Create ‘Unleash the Dark Power’ Scene in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn the steps to create the surreal artwork below, entitled ‘Unleash the Dark Power.’

Create Unleash the Dark Power Surreal Scene in Photoshop

How to Create a Flying Angel Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to create a dramatic cloud background, add glowing wings to an angel, and add particles.

How to Create a Flying Angel Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

How to Create a Mystical Night Forest Scene with an Angel

You will learn how to create the below mystical forest scene with a beautiful angel reading a book.

Create a Mystical Night Forest Scene with an Angel

How to Create a Valentine’s Day Manipulation in Photoshop

This manipulation tutorial will show you how to create a romantic scene by simply combining a few stock images. You will also learn how to create beautiful color effects and how to add a soft and dreamy effect to your work.

Valentines Day Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial

How to Create an Emotional Autumn Scene Photo Manipulation

In this Photoshop tutorial, you’ll learn how to create an emotional autumn scene, learning how to blend stock images together to make a cohesive scene, as well retouch the model and create a rain effect.

An Emotional Autumn Scene Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Melting Camera Scene

In this tutorial, you will learn how to melt a camera using the Layer Mask Tool and Liquify filter.

A Melting Camera Scene

How to Create a Fashion Photo Manipulation

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will learn how to integrate a model in a dark environment and apply abstract lighting effects.

Fashion Photo Manipulation with Abstract Smoke and Light Effects

How to Create Surreal Gothic Artwork in Photoshop

You will learn how to create the creepy gothic artwork below in this Photoshop tutorial.

A Surreal Gothic Artwork in Photoshop

How to Create a Serene Fantasy Photo Manipulation

This tutorial shows you how to combine different stock photos to create a calm landscape photo manipulation.

A Serene Fantasy Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Dramatic Fisheye Spartan Scene

In this tutorial, you will learn how to blend and distort various desert landscape stock images to create a dynamic fish-eye perspective and use adjustment layers to add different coloring to the manipulation.

Dramatic Fisheye Spartan Scene tutorial in Photoshop

How to Create a Beautiful Abstract Portrait

With this photo manipulation tutorial, you will learn how to create a beautiful abstract portrait.

Beautiful Abstract Portrait tutorial in Photoshop

How to Create a Surreal Apple Habitat Scene

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make a surreal apple habitat scene.

Surreal Apple Habitat Scene tutorial in Photoshop

How to Create a Surreal Desert Scene

In this photo manipulation tutorial, you’ll create a surreal desert scene with everything turning into sand.

Surreal Desert Scene tutorial in Photoshop

How to Create an Inspiring Light Bulb Photo Manipulation

Learn an easy and quick way to blend glass, apply lighting effects and apply color adjustments to get the exact picture you want.

Inspiring Light Bulb Photo Manipulation tutorial in Photoshop

How to Create a Dark Human Photo Manipulation

This tutorial takes you through the steps for creating a liquid human photo manipulation with textures.

Dark Human Photo Manipulation with Liquified Water Texture tutorial in Photoshop

How to Create a Photo Manipulation with Nebula Effect

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will learn the steps to create a unique, dark, and surreal photo manipulation with the Nebula Effect.

Photo Manipulation with Nebula Effect tutorial in Photoshop

How to Create a Cool Flying Snail

This tutorial shows you how to create a surreal scene by blending stock photos seamlessly. You’ll also learn how to fix and enhance the lighting of your images.

Cool Flying Snail tutorial in Photoshop

Photo Manipulation Tutorial FAQs

  • What are photo manipulation Photoshop tutorials? These tutorials teach you how to use Photoshop to alter, combine, and transform photographs into creative, often surreal artworks. They cover a range of techniques to achieve different artistic effects.
  • Can beginners try these photo manipulation tutorials? Yes, most tutorials are beginner-friendly, offering step-by-step instructions. Others might be more advanced but are great for learning as you build up your skills.
  • What kind of projects can I create with photo manipulation? You can create various projects, from surreal landscapes to fantasy portraits. The possibilities are endless.
  • Do I need the latest version of Photoshop for these tutorials? While some tutorials may use the latest features, many can be followed with older versions of Photoshop that have basic editing tools.
  • How long does it take to complete a photo manipulation tutorial? It varies depending on the complexity. Some can be done in a short sitting, while others might take a few hours to fully grasp and complete.
  • Will practicing these tutorials improve my Photoshop skills? Definitely! By working through these tutorials, you’ll not only learn specific photo manipulation techniques but also improve your overall proficiency in Photoshop.

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15 Photography Assignments to Challenge and Inspire

By Tata Rossi 23 days ago, Amateur Photography

15 Photography Assignments to Challenge and Inspire

Photography assignments allow you to experiment with something you have never tried before and play around with different photographic approaches. With such an assignment, you will challenge yourself and develop your skills.

15 Ways to Make Photography Assignments

This list of photo assignments consists of 15 points, so I am sure that you will find the idea to your liking.

1. Self Portraits

best photography assignments

The first task is a no-brainer: just take a self-portrait picture each day. Don’t forget to use a tripod and shutter release aside from regular shooting with your arm extended and holding a camera.

Since you will be the model, feel free to unleash your creativity with all sorts of make-up, outfits, poses until you figure out a proper look. Remember to use props as well. Then share your shots with the world via social networks or the dedicated Flickr and Twitter groups.

2. Color Challenge

photography assignments

Here is one of the greatest color photography assignments for the urban environment photos . Bring the camera with you and take pictures for several hours. Pick a color (or ask a friend to choose it for you to complicate the task) and photograph subjects of the chosen color only.

Once you are done, you will find yourself seeing this color everywhere! Then pick the best shots and merge them into a collage or mosaic in Photoshop .

3. After Dark

powerful photography assignments

Practice with night photography and try taking pictures after dark. In case you are outside the city, you may shoot moonlight or star trails. While being in the city, capture light trails of vehicles or buildings with the light-up windows. Regardless of the location, experiment with light-painting by means of long exposure photography and moving a flashlight across areas of the scene.

4. Crop or Rotate All your Photos a Specific Way

One of the best photography practice assignments is to neglect your comfort zone and try something new for a change. For instance, if you have a tendency to snap the same kinds of photos, you should modify their perspective.

Try an approach to cropping or rotating your next 50-100 shots that differs from your regular one. Play around with square photos, 180° rotation or whatever else you can come up with. Once you get out of the familiar artistic routine, you will be able to perceive the world from another angle and get creative.

5. Quit Social Media Temporarily

amazing photography assignments

Social networks can serve as an excellent source of photography inspiration or lead to a complete lack of it. If you use social networks without critical thinking, you may start comparing yourself to other photographers, which will be a total waste of time and effort.

While it may be one of the hardest photography assignments these days, taking a hiatus from social networks is highly important. Log off your Instagram account for some time or uninstall apps that leave you in a bad mood.

In case your job requires staying online on a daily basis, devote some of your time to non-Internet tasks, like taking pictures or gaining knowledge on photography. I suggest taking some online photography courses .

6. Shoot Every Day for a Month

If you wish to become a better photographer , you shouldn’t stop shooting. By taking pictures constantly, you will receive more feedback and will be interacting more actively with the world.

One of the most widespread photography class assignments is to take one picture each day for a month. Do it with the help of the smartphone, DSLR camera or any device that can photograph. But don’t take meaningless pictures just because you have to. The shots you take should resonate with you in one way or another and be valuable to you.

The Zen masters suggest that you have a “daily practice.” When we repeat something, we become closer to recognizing the “truth”. You may read a great number of photo theory books , but you won’t be able to shoot properly. Only through practice, repetition, feedback and constructive criticism, you can grow as a photographer. Remember that this assignment is about forming a habit, not about taking a perfect picture each day.

7. Experiment with a Completely Different Genre

cool photography assignments

The array of photography genres is truly vast. Underwater photography , glamour, smartphone, landscape photography , portrait photography – that’s only a beginning. If you feel like you are losing interest in photography, switch to another genre.

Try staying away from your primary photography genre for a while. In case you shoot portraits, go outside and capture the area where you live in. If you are involved in photographing pets , play around with self-portraiture. By getting familiar with various photography genres, you are widening your photography horizons and gaining new knowledge that may come in useful one day.

8. Put Together a Photo Album

photography assignments you must practice

We live in a digital world, and even nowadays’ photography comes mostly in a digital form. We constantly find ourselves sharing our photos online. It is a rare thing to print photographs, even touch them, let alone create something physical out of them.

That’s why one of the greatest photography tasks is to compile a photo album. You can buy one at a store or online. Print the desired shots in the small 4×6 size. I suggest collaborating on this task with your friend, child or partner. Think of the main idea, theme or story of the album. Put all the printed shots on a surface and consider how you will lay them out in an album, how you will pair them and in what sequence.

No wonder that our parents and elderly relatives used to create a photo book together. It is a nice way to preserve precious memories in a physical form and bring back the moments that we sometimes tend to forget over time.

9. Take Creative Self-Portraits with a Friend

interesting photography assignments

While you may enjoy your own company while taking self-portraits, you may feel bored or lonely after some time. In this case, you can implement one of the most entertaining photography assignment ideas and take self-portraits with a friend (pets are welcome as well!).

Don’t forget to think through the poses, set up the tripod and find the perfect photography light. As you will be engaged in all these activities, you will be able to get a hang of a photographer’s workflow. Then, when it comes to a real photo shoot with the clients, you will be more skilled at dealing with the camera and lights.

10. Attend a Photography Workshop

Photography workshops is an excellent investment in your education as a photographer and one of the most helpful beginner photography assignments.

Pick a workshop that is dedicated to the topic relevant for you. Thanks to workshops, you will get not only theoretical but also practical information. Also, you will have your questions answered by real professionals.

11. Photograph the Same Person or Object Every Day

In case you aren’t as excited about photography as before, try capturing one and the same person or object each day for a week or month. Similar to the smartphone photography challenge, as a result, you will realize the importance of having the freedom to photograph anything you wish.

While snapping pictures of the same object, you will boost your lighting skills. To make the shots differ from each other, don’t hesitate to play around with various types of lighting and photo editing apps .

12. Go a Month Without Using Social Media

Being the photographer of the 21st century, you may find yourself in the never-ending trap of feeling the need to post photos on social networks each day. It all turns into some sort of addiction – all you crave is likes, comments and new followers. If you don’t receive the online praise you need, your photography stops making sense.

In fact, photography is something you should pursue on your own. What truly matters here is your personal thoughts on your shots, not the opinion of users online. Simply uninstall all the social network applications from the smartphone (you can bring them back once the assignment is over). Posting photos and looking through photos of others is prohibited.

If you manage to stay away from social networks for a month, you will acquire a clearer purpose of your photography work. Besides, you won’t be so obsessed with the imaginary social network competition that everyone seems to be involved in.

13. Shoot with a Limited Amount of Equipment

perfect photography assignments

Regardless of whether you are an experienced, amateur or a beginner photographer , you are likely to be after all sorts of photography gear to enhance your results.

How about photography assignments where you have to use a restricted amount of shooting equipment? You can photograph strictly with one camera body or camera lens . There is no need to do it for an entire month.

For this assignment, I suggest coming up with a plan, and do it, for instance, only once a week. Working with the same gear every day will give you more flexibility in both the creative and physical aspects of the process.

So, in case you deal only with a zoom lens, you will have to experiment whenever you shoot indoors . With a wide-angle lens only, you will need to work on cropping and correcting distortions.

14. Limit Yourself to X Photos a Day

Similar to the previous assignment, limiting yourself to 10, 20, 30 or more shots per day, week or month will help you realize what your true creative needs are. Besides, with a photo limit, you will understand what subjects or scenes you are more inclined to photograph.

Another benefit of a photo limit is that it will bring more patience and creativity into the process. You won’t be able to take numerous pictures of one place, so you will be forced to risk and play around with various perspectives.

15. Take Photos with Your Smartphone Camera Only

unique photography assignments

Take pictures only with a smartphone camera for a week. For better results, download a top-notch camera app and try to figure out all of its settings. A modern smartphone will help beginning photographers get acquainted with the technical side of the shooting process.

To complicate the task, I suggest recreating some of your portfolio photos with the smartphone camera. With this assignment, you will learn all the intricacies of shooting with a smartphone and may even start taking shots not only with a standard camera but with a smartphone one as well on a regular basis!

Freebies for Photography Assignments

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Check your email to download freebies. (approx. 1-2 min)

Using these presets for beginners, you will be able to enhance portrait, wedding, newborn, landscape, real estate and e-commerce photography. The presets are compatible with all Lightroom versions. Experiment with adjustments to achieve the ideal result!

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The Ultimate Guide to Photo Manipulation: Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials

Jonathan Buquia

Entering the captivating world of photo manipulation and craving to master impressive image alterations? As we move further into 2023, the reality-bending artistry is becoming ever more prominent and enchanting. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or a professional graphic designer, our Ultimate Guide to Photo Manipulation dives deep into this incredible digital domain. Packed with cutting-edge tips, mind-boggling tricks, and step-by-step tutorials, this guide will transform your ordinary clicks into striking works of art that defy reality. Be ready to redefine the boundaries of visual artistry, for once you harness the power of photo manipulation, there’s no limit to what your creativity can manifest!

Our website offers a range of practical tips to enhance your photo manipulation abilities, such as techniques for cutting out elements, painting light, adjusting perspective, and color grading. We also provide insights on ethical considerations and recommended apps for photo manipulation. For further learning, we recommend practicing and experimenting with different techniques, studying tutorials, and exploring examples of manipulated photos.

Mastering Foundation: Layer and Masking Techniques

photo manipulation tips

In the world of photo manipulation, understanding and mastering layer and masking techniques are essential foundations. Layers allow you to separate elements of an image, making it easier to edit and manipulate specific parts without affecting the overall composition. Masks, on the other hand, give you precise control over which areas of a layer are visible or hidden. By learning how to work with layers and masks effectively, you gain the power to bring your creative visions to life.

Imagine you have a photograph of a beautiful landscape, but you want to add a soaring eagle flying across the sky. Instead of directly editing the original image, you can create a new layer and use a mask to reveal only the eagle while keeping the rest of the photograph intact. This non-destructive approach allows for greater flexibility in fine-tuning your edits.

Deepening Understanding of Layers and Masks for Photo Manipulation

To truly elevate your photo manipulation skills, it’s crucial to deepen your understanding of layers and masks. Here are some key concepts to focus on:

Blending Modes: Experimenting with different blending modes for your layers can drastically change the appearance and interaction between various elements. From overlaying textures to creating vivid color effects, blending modes offer endless possibilities for artistic expression.

Layer Styles: Adding layer styles like drop shadows, glows, or gradients can enhance the realism or add creative flair to your manipulated images. Explore the different options available within Photoshop or other editing software to discover unique ways to make your compositions visually captivating.

Non-Destructive Editing: Utilizing masks for non-destructive editing allows for more flexibility during post-processing. By using masks, you can hide or reveal portions of a layer without permanently altering any pixels. This enables you to make adjustments later on or experiment with different effects without compromising the integrity of your original image.

Grouping Layers: When working with complex compositions involving multiple layers, organizing them into groups can help you maintain a structured workflow. Grouping layers allows for better organization, easier management, and efficient editing of specific elements within your composition.

Remember, mastering layers and masks is an ongoing process that requires practice and experimentation. Take the time to explore different techniques and workflows to find what works best for you.

  • A 2019 Adobe survey revealed that more than 60% of photographers use some form of photo manipulation, such as cropping or straightening their images.
  • According to a 2022 survey from Fotor, nearly 45% of respondents learn photo manipulation techniques through online tutorials and resources.
  • As per a study published in The Creative Industries Journal in 2023, about 35% of graphic designers report using photo manipulation in more than half of their projects.

Art of Adding Text to an Image

Art of Adding Text to an Image

Adding text to an image is a powerful technique in photo manipulation that allows you to convey messages, enhance storytelling, and create visually appealing compositions. Whether you want to create eye-catching advertisements, design captivating social media graphics, or simply add a personal touch to your photographs, mastering the art of adding text can take your photo manipulation skills to new heights.

When incorporating text into an image, consider the following aspects:

  • Typography: Selecting the right font is crucial for setting the tone and mood of your composition. Experiment with different typefaces, sizes, and styles that align with the overall theme or intention of your manipulations.
  • Placement: Think about how the placement of text can impact the composition. Consider the rule of thirds or other design principles to guide your decision-making. The goal is to strike a balance between harmoniously integrating the text with the image while ensuring it remains readable and legible.
  • Color and Contrast: Pay attention to the color of the text and how it interacts with the background image. Contrast plays a vital role in ensuring readability, so adjust the color and opacity to make sure your text stands out against the underlying elements.

Crafting Realistic Text in Photos

Crafting realistic text within photos involves blending typography seamlessly into an image as if it naturally belongs there. This technique is particularly useful when creating photomanipulations that aim for realism while incorporating fantastical elements.

To achieve realistic-looking text in photos:

  • Matching Lighting and Color: Pay attention to the lighting conditions within the original image and ensure that the text matches these conditions. Adjust brightness, shadows, and color tones so that the text appears integrated into its surroundings.
  • Emulating Perspective and Depth: Take into consideration the perspective and depth of field in the photo before adding text. Apply transformations such as skewing, warping, or utilizing the vanishing point tool to make the text appear as if it is part of the original scene.
  • Texture and Blend Modes: Apply texture overlays or blend modes to the text layer to make it seamlessly blend with the image’s textures and patterns. Experiment with different blend modes like Multiply, Overlay, or Soft Light to achieve a natural integration.

Remember, practice is key in mastering these techniques. Study tutorials and examples of manipulated photos to gather inspiration and explore various creative possibilities. Keep experimenting, pushing your boundaries, and refining your skills to create captivating and realistic text within your photo manipulations.

Photo Manipulation: Perspectives for Artistic Impact

Photo Manipulation Perspectives for Artistic Impact

One of the most powerful aspects of photo manipulation is the ability to manipulate perspectives in order to create artistic impact. By altering the perspective of elements within a composition, you can completely transform the narrative, mood, or focus of an image.

Let’s consider an example: Imagine a photograph of a cityscape taken from ground level. By manipulating the perspective, you could amplify the height and grandeur of the buildings, making them appear towering and imposing. Conversely, you could manipulate the perspective to make them seem small and insignificant, emphasizing a sense of isolation or loneliness. These manipulation techniques allow for artistic expression beyond what is possible with a traditional photograph. To see practical examples, refer to our article discussing Photography Tips and Techniques. To learn more, read this article

Perspective manipulation requires careful consideration and attention to detail. To achieve convincing results, it’s essential to pay close attention to elements such as lines and vanishing points in the original image. With tools like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, you can use distortion filters and transformation tools to bend reality and create unique perspectives that captivate viewers.

Now that we’ve explored manipulating perspectives for artistic impact, let’s dive into techniques for artistic blending.

Techniques for Artistic Blending

Artistic blending is an integral part of photo manipulation that involves seamlessly integrating different elements into a composition. It allows you to combine multiple images or elements in a way that appears natural and visually harmonious.

There are various techniques for achieving realistic blends depending on your creative vision. One common technique is masking, where you use masks to selectively hide or reveal parts of an element, enabling smooth integration without visible edges or seams. This technique allows you to isolate subjects from their original backgrounds and place them seamlessly into new environments.

Another technique is using adjustment layers and blending modes. Adjustment layers provide control over color, lighting, and contrast adjustments while blending modes alter how layers interact with each other. Experimenting with different blending modes like Overlay, Soft Light, or Multiply can yield stunning results.

Advanced techniques such as frequency separation and luminosity masking enable precise control over blending tones, textures, and colors. These techniques help create seamless transitions between elements, making composited images appear cohesive and lifelike.

Remember, practice is key to mastering these techniques. Study tutorials, explore examples of well-executed blends, and experiment with different tools and settings to find your own artistic style.

Tools and Resources for Photo Manipulation

Tools and Resources for Photo Manipulation

When it comes to photo manipulation, having the right tools and resources can make all the difference in creating stunning visual effects. Let’s explore some essential tools and resources that can aid you in your photo manipulation journey.

To begin with, investing in a reliable photo editing software is vital. The market offers a plethora of options catering to different levels of expertise and budgets. Some of the best photo editing software as of June 2023 include Adobe Lightroom Classic, CyberLink PhotoDirector 365, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate, Corel PaintShop Pro, Capture One Pro, DxO PhotoLab Elite Edition, and Affinity Photo .

Adobe Lightroom Classic stands out as the most popular and highly rated software among professional photographers . It offers a range of advanced features such as masking tools, content-aware removal, and plug-in support. Additionally, it is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems and offers a free trial before subscription plans starting at $9.99 per month. To learn more, read this article about Outdoor Portrait Photography Tips for Beginners.

For those looking for AI-enabled editing capabilities, CyberLink PhotoDirector 365 is an excellent choice . It provides tools like unblur features and background removal features . This beginner-friendly software offers a free version along with a subscription plan starting at $39.99 per year .

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is another popular option among photo enthusiasts due to its AI editing tools and RAW editor . This software offers a one-time payment plan of $79.99 for Windows users and a reduced price of $59.95 for Mac users .

Corel PaintShop Pro is known for its customizable tools and user-friendly interface, making it suitable for beginners in photo manipulation . It supports RAW file editing and has plugin support across different platforms .

Capture One Pro is renowned for its advanced color editing, smart adjustments, and speedy edits using its speed edit feature . It is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems with subscription plans starting at $14.92 per month or a one-time payment of $299 .

DxO PhotoLab Elite Edition offers features like RAW image stitching, denoising, enhancement, and lens correction . It has an intuitive interface and supports up to three devices with a one-time payment of $219 .

Lastly, Affinity Photo is a feature-rich software available for Mac, Windows, and iPad . It offers vector image warping, CAD file editing, and page layout design features . Prices range from $69.99 for individual devices to $164.99 for all three devices .

Now that we are aware of some essential tools for photo manipulation, let’s explore recommended resources that can help enhance your skills in this creative field.

Recommended Tools and Tutorials for Skill Enhancement

To excel in photo manipulation, it’s essential to continuously expand your skill set and stay updated with the latest trends and techniques. Fortunately, there are abundant resources available to assist you in this journey of skill enhancement.

Online tutorials serve as an excellent starting point for beginners. Platforms like YouTube offer a vast library of video tutorials where experienced artists share their techniques and insights. These tutorials provide step-by-step guidance on various aspects of photo manipulation, such as compositing, retouching, and special effects.

Additionally, websites like Adobe Creative Cloud Learning Hub and CreativeLive offer comprehensive courses specifically designed to sharpen your photo manipulation skills. These courses cover a wide range of topics, from basic concepts to advanced techniques employed by industry professionals.

Another valuable resource is online communities and forums dedicated to photo manipulation. These platforms provide a space for artists to share their work, seek feedback, and engage in discussions on techniques and challenges faced in the field. Participating in such communities can help you gain inspiration, learn from others, and receive valuable critiques. Find more information on this page Master Your Photography Skills.

Books and eBooks focusing on photo manipulation are also worth exploring. These resources often delve deeper into theory and offer insights into the artistry behind photo manipulation. They can provide a solid foundation of knowledge and inspire you to experiment with new ideas.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of practice. Engage in regular photo manipulation projects, pushing your boundaries and experimenting with different styles and techniques. Set achievable goals for yourself and strive to improve with each project. Remember that practice is key to enhancing your skills and developing your unique artistic style.

  • To excel in photo manipulation, continuously expand your skills and stay updated with the latest techniques. Seek resources such as online tutorials, comprehensive courses, online communities and forums, books and eBooks, and practice regularly with achievable goals to enhance your skills and develop your unique artistic style.

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Guide to Photo Manipulation: Tips, Tutorials, Examples

Learn all about photo manipulation in this guide. Get inspired by tutorials, tips & examples, and discover new artists. We also discuss the negative side too!

Learn | Photography Guides | By Usnea Lebendig

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Photo manipulation has been around as long as there’s been photography. Sure, digital photo editing programs like Photoshop took the art to a whole new level, but photographers have been changing elements in their photos for well over a century.

Back in the days of film, everything was done in the darkroom. These days, thanks to modern technology, changing our images is infinitely more flexible – we can let our creativity fly.

In case you’re wondering, however, there’s a substantial difference between image editing and photo manipulation.

With photo editing, we’re enhancing the information that’s already present in the image. This includes everything from adjusting the exposure and tone to resizing and cropping.

Photo manipulation, on the other hand, involves changing what’s in the image – adding or subtracting elements, substantially changing color or tone, etc.

Photo manipulation – popularly known as “Photoshopping” (a word that Adobe hates by the way!) – often gets a bad rap. Governments have used it for propaganda purposes, advertising agencies and news media have misled viewers, and individual photographers sometimes pass off their composite digital art as a single photo in contests where it’s not allowed.

That being said, photo manipulation is an extraordinary skill to have. Knowing how to edit photos substantially will allow you to do everything from removing distracting elements (like power lines) to creating an amazing scene on screen that only lives in your imagination. It’s also lots of fun!

In this article, we’ll explore a number of tips for improving your photo manipulation skills and provide a number of excellent photo manipulation tutorials that will get you well on your way to mastering the art of photo retouching, realistic photomontage, and rocking the world of digital art.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

15 Tips for Effective Photo Manipulation in 2024

Photo Manipulation Best Practices

There are a number of things to keep in mind when manipulating photos – especially if you’re combining two or more images together.

Here’s a shortlist of the most important.

1. Keep to the Rules of Photography

While your digital art or photomontage can feature all the sci-fi and fantasy elements you want, to make the overall photo look “right,” you’ll still need to conform to the rules of photography (see tips 2-4).

2. Match the Lighting and Color

When adding new assets into your photos, make sure they match what’s already in the image in terms of color and tone .

If either of these is off, the viewers will notice it. They may not be able to put into words  why the image looks wrong, but they’ll notice.

3. Keep an Eye on the Shadows

One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced photo manipulators make is neglecting the shadows made by directional light. Each added element needs to match the direction the light is coming from in the base layer image.

Conversely, if you remove an object, make sure you remove its shadow too!

4. Get the Perspective Right

While photo manipulation gives us the power to make our fantasies come alive, understanding perspective and proportion is a must if you want your images to look realistic.

You can always make your pet rabbit bigger than your house, but you need to make it look as if the proportions are natural! For example, objects in the background need to look smaller than those in the front.

5. Choose Images that Work Well Together

To save yourself a lot of time when compositing, make sure to choose images that are similar in terms of color, lighting, and overall exposure. Not doing so will make a lot more work for yourself and may even take some of the fun out of it.

6. Create an Image Cache

If you plan to do a lot of photomontage/image compositing, it’s best to have a collection of photos just for that purpose. Free stock photos like those on Unsplash will make a good start, but often the best photos for compositing will come from your own camera.

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As a photographer, you can collect everything from skies and backgrounds to individual elements like flowers, sculptures, and cars. The sky’s the limit.

6. Have a Plan

Having a plan before you start your image manipulation will save you a lot of time. Not only will it give a good idea of the photos you’ll need to collect (if compositing), it’ll also help you choose which photo manipulation techniques you’re going to use and why.

7. Learn How to Perfect Your Edges

Whether you’re compositing or simply removing unwanted elements from your photos , learning how to get clean edges in your selection is key. Sloppy edges are a key way in which photo art can really fall flat.

Here, having Adobe Photoshop can really be a game-changer. No other photo editing software comes close to the advanced selection tools Photoshop offers.

Sometimes you can get by using the AI in other programs, but they can be quite frustrating when trying to make complex cutouts. Here’s a guide on where to buy Photoshop .

8. Resolution, Resolution, Resolution

No, we’re not talking about New Year’s here! We’re talking pixels.

Pixels are the raw material of your image. The more raw material you have to work with, the easier your photo manipulation will go.

How much is enough? Ideally, you’ll want to work at somewhere between 150-200% the size of the final image. Once you’re done, you can always resample down.

Another rule of thumb: For print work at 300 dpi. For screen displays, you can get away with something as low as 72 dpi.

9. Learn the Tools

Most photo editing software comes with some form of Healing Brush , Clone and Stamp , and  Transform tools. Programs like Photoshop will also have more advanced options like Liquify ,  Warp , and  Content-Aware Fill .

These are all the bread and butter of photo manipulation. The more you get to know them, the faster your photo editing will become and the more easily you’ll be able to bring your artistic visions to life.

10. Invest in a Graphics Tablet

Graphic tablets are good for more than just drawing or painting on a digital canvas. The pen responds to pressure and most tablets offer options for making quick adjustments like zooming in/out, changing the brush size, and adding or subtracting areas to your selections.

The Wacom Intuos is an excellent, affordable option to get you started. The Wacom Cintiq 16 is also a popular option, perfect for regular Photoshop use.

11. Take a Break, then do a Final Check

Once you’ve finished with all the details of your latest Photoshop idea and you’re sure you’re picture is ready to go, take a long break (ideally, overnight!) When you come back with fresh eyes, do one final check.

Take a look at the shadows and highlights, light direction, and any areas where you added or subtracted something.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably have missed something…!

12. Make Sure You Save a Copy With Your Layers Intact

If you’re working in a program that has layers (recommended), make sure you save a copy of your completed image with all the layers intact – before you merge the layers.

You may very well find that you want to go back and change something later and without the layers available, you’ll have a hard time with it. Adobe Photoshop is the original layer-based non-destructive editing program, although many other editing apps also offer it these days.

13. Choose the Right Image Editing Software

As mentioned before, what software you choose to use will make all the difference in the world. Ideally, your program will have adjustment layers , excellent selection tools , and a healing brush , clone stamp , and refine edge tool that work really , really well.

Don’t be fooled here. Many programs have a healing brush, but if it doesn’t work the way you need it to and/or leaves mushy pixels in its wake, they won’t be that useful.

Also, while programs like Luminar can replace skies for you seamlessly, they won’t let you make detailed selections in the way Adobe Photoshop can.

If you’re only needing to remove that occasional person or object from your pictures, these programs will work great, but for advanced image manipulation, you’ll want to look to Photoshop or GIMP or something with similar features.

14. Choose the Right Computer

Using adjustment multiple layers with large image files can quickly clog up your computer’s disk storage space, and bring everything to a crawl if you don’t have the correct hardware set up.

Photoshop’s minimum system requirements aren’t particularly taxing, but we recommend investing in a computer with more RAM than is recommended, a modern graphics card and at least 1 TB of storage. You’ll also want a good external monitor , especially if you intend to make multiple minute edits.

Desktop computers are better value for money than laptops and traditionally offer better performance too, although most modern laptops can handle Photoshop and other editing apps with no issues.

15. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like all skills, effective photo manipulation takes practice. Whether you’re just looking to enhance one image or you plan on creating a spectacular alternative reality through compositing, the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

And let’s face it, Photoshop has a high learning curve – the more you delve into it the easier some of the techniques will become.

12 Great Photo Manipulation Tutorials

If you have Adobe Photoshop and are yearning to get your feet wet in the art of photo manipulation, check out these amazing tutorials for photographers and graphic designers.

They all come with stock images and clear, concise directions for each and every step. What’s more, the skills you practice here are directly transferable to any other artistic creations you might have up your sleeve.

These Photoshop tutorials are a bit involved, however, so make sure you have a chunk of time set aside to play around with.

Spiritual Heights

Photo manipulation of a monk meditating

If you’ve ever wanted to reach spiritual heights in your digital artwork , this tutorial will show you how to put all the pieces together.

Through a Glass Darkly

Turn your model into a halloween theme

Convert any standard model portrait into a creepy horror scene.

Fiery Fantasy Portrait

Create a Fiery Portrait

This photo manipulation tutorial helps you transform an ordinary portrait into a fiery deity.

Thoughts Running Wild

Creative Photo Manipulation

In this tutorial, learn how to transport an everyday model into an ethereal scene.

Come to Life

Toys come to life image manipulation

Ever wish you could make your toys come to life? This tutorial covers not only how to manipulate images, but how to create a photoshoot for the different elements as well. Get your camera ready!

Angel in the Deep Forest Night

Create a Magical Forest Night Scene

Learn how to create the scene above from an ordinary forest image and a model reading a book.

Transform an ordinary face into that of a sylph

Transform an ordinary face into that of a slyph.

Create a Surreal Gothic Portrait

Create a surreal gothic portrait

Whether you’re into the gothic look or not, this tutorial is well worth a try. It shows you how to create a symmetrical background, add in the reflections, and warp a face to make it look like that of a child.

You might also find some inspiration in our guide to surreal photography .

Undressed Giraffe

Undressed a giraffe

Ever wonder what a giraffe looks like without its spots? This tutorial will take you through not only removing its spots, but also turning them into an outfit to be ironed.

Shattered Glass

Create a Futuristic photo

In this tutorial, you’ll learn to transform objects, blend them, clone, and create a sense of movement – all key techniques in creating realistic sci-fi scenes.

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Not Too Far Away…

Battle in Space

If you’re a sci-fi lover you’ll love this tutorial showing how to create a space battle out of stock photos.

Autumn Beauty

Autumn Beauty Photo Manipulation

This tutorial will show you how to seamlessly blend all the stock photos together into soft, autumnal, whole. You’ll also learn how to retouch the model, work with groups, and create rain.

More Photo Manipulation Ideas: 8 Artists to Follow in 2024

Need some more inspiration? Check out the work of the fantastic modern digital artists listed below!

  • Anka Zhuravleva: A fantastic Russian digital artist who mixes her art background with her love of photography.
  • Cristophe Gilbert: A master image manipulator from Belgium, Christophe Gilbert can turn just about anything into anything and then back into its original form.
  • Andhika Zanuar: Andhika Zanuar creates compelling fantasy images in Photoshop and then shows you how to recreate them via his YouTube channel.
  • Natalie Shau: Based in Lithuania, Natalie Shau creates haunting, dark, surreal pictures through the art of combining photography and digital painting with her work in 3D rendering.
  • Shaun Ryken: Based out of Ontario, Canada, Shaun Ryken creates some stunning photo composites that will leave you inspired and longing for more.
  • Jeremy Blincoe: Focusing on a world of metamorphosis and infinite becomings, Jeremy Blincoe explores how each thing flows into and becomes the other.
  • Martin Stranka: Martin Stranka has won a number of awards in recent years for his composite images. His work focuses on the interstitial space between dreaming and awakening.
  • Ysabel Lemay: A master image compositor, each of Ysabel Lemay’s works is comprised of hundreds of smaller images, all woven together so deftly one could get lost in the beauty of the details as well as in the overall Gestalt.

Unethical Photo Manipulation

OJ Simpson Photo Manipulation

One of the more famous photo manipulations in the media industry, Time Magazine ran a heavily stylized version of O.J. Simpson’s mugshot that many felt was biased. It didn’t help that Newsweek released an unchanged version of the photo at the same time. They sat on newsstands side by side. Time Magazine eventually apologized, but only after it came under considerable pressure.

You probably know that as incredible a tool as photo manipulation is, it’s been used unscrupulously over the years.

The greatest controversies tend to occur in photojournalism and on social media sites, where viewers expect to see photographs that represent their subjects accurately.

As a result, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) created a very clear code of ethics regarding photo manipulation:

“Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.”

Another situation where photo manipulation can cross the line is in the area of photography contests .

Many photography contests, unless explicitly stated, are looking for photographs that have not been altered beyond standard photo editing. If they’re looking for digital art, they generally say so.

Of course, there’s a lot of gray areas here. While technically photo manipulation, removing distracting elements such as power lines is pretty standard and won’t violate any ethics in contests.

Other changes – particularly image compositing – are likely to be considered unethical if the contest is not looking for digital art. In the end, it’ll be up to the photographer to decide…and the judges if they notice.

Other tips for ethical photo manipulation:

  • Make sure you’re not stealing other people’s images. Either use your own photography, get free stock images, or register for a paid stock photo account like iStock.
  • As mentioned above, don’t use photo manipulation to deceive or misrepresent news or current events…or really, to misrepresent anything.
  • Make sure that what you present is your own work. (I know this should go without saying but you may be surprised at the amount of image theft that’s out there.)
  • In terms of photo retouching, do what’s needed to make the photo its best self. Don’t skewer the bodies into unnatural forms and then pass it off as “beauty.”
  • Check a photo contest’s rules carefully before submitting photos that have had their content manipulated.

The bottom line: photo manipulation is meant for artistic expression and creativity, not deception. (This goes for video as well.)

Photo Manipulation FAQs

Is photo manipulation illegal?

Photo manipulation itself is legal, but using someone else’s content without their permission is not. It falls under copyright infringement.

What is the difference between photo editing and photo manipulation?

In photo editing, the photographer works with the information that already exists in the image. With photo-manipulation, one is adding in, subtracting, or substantially changing the information present in the image.

Can digital photography be manipulated and not be noticed?

Yes. Any good photo editor can manipulate an image and pass it off as unaltered.

How do you tell if a photo has been manipulated?

  • Check the Edges: Edges are notoriously tricky to get right in photo manipulation.
  • Inconsistent Lighting: In most photos, lighting should generally come from a consistent direction. If a group of subjects are close to each other in a photo but have light and dark areas on different sides of them, the photo has probably been manipulated.
  • Look at the Shadows: Amateur photo manipulators will often neglect to make the shadows of their added elements match the lighting of the overall scene.
  • Check for Missing Reflections: Reflections are commonly overlooked.
  • The Perspective is Off : You will probably notice this before you’re aware you’ve noticed it. Something will just feel “wrong.”
  • Zoom In: Mistakes that are challenging to see when the image is zoomed out will often quite apparent once you take a closer look at the image.
  • Keep an Eye out for Warping: If someone’s not skilled in Photoshop and uses the L iquify tool, they’ll probably change more pixels than they intended.
  • Third-party Apps: There are a number of apps that specialize in detecting photo manipulation. FotoForensics is probably the most well-known, but there are plenty of others out there.

Final Words

Whether you’re using photo manipulation to enhance a portrait’s complexion, remove telephone wires, or alter reality is some great and fantastic way, learning the tricks of the trade can really take your artwork to its next level.

The more you practice, the more you’ll find amazing results right at your fingertips.

What are your favorite image manipulation techniques? Do you already use Photoshop for photo manipulation? Have any examples of photo manipulation techniques you’d like to share?


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Usnea Lebendig is an experienced photographer and reviewer who loves to photograph professionally and in moments where the world’s beauty and/or strangeness leaps in front of the lens.


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91 Photoshop Photo Manipulation Tutorials: Become A Pro

  • Posted by Bogdan Sandu

Ready to see some photo manipulation tutorials for Photoshop ? There are plenty in this article.

I have been making roundups of weekly or monthly Photoshop manipulation tutorials for a lot of time.

During this time I had the chance to see a lot of interesting tutorials from which I can choose the best photo manipulation tutorials to help all the Photoshop newbies out there who want to learn how to use this wonderful program. From funny photoshop ideas to surreal photoshop imagery, there is something for everyone.

Photo manipulations are attractive to people who use Photoshop for the first time and it’s exciting to see what great things you can do when using a photo manipulation ideas.

Though, for that to happen you must first learn how to do certain techniques with the use of a photo manipulation tutorial .

In this article, you will find almost every top-notch Photoshop tutorial regarding photo manipulations that was published over the last two to three years. I’ve excluded grotesque manipulation tutorials – I hope you don’t mind.

Photoshop Photo Manipulation Tutorials

Beginner photoshop photomanipulation tutorial | stairway.

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Create a Fantasy Fiery Portrait Photo-Manipulation

fantasy-fiery-portrait-photo-manipulation 91 Photoshop Photo Manipulation Tutorials: Become A Pro

Futuristic Male Cyborg Photo Manipulation Tutorial

futuristic-male-cyborg-photo-manipulation-tutorial 91 Photoshop Photo Manipulation Tutorials: Become A Pro

Bogdan Sandu

Bogdan Sandu, a seasoned designer with 15 years of diverse experience, has been crafting compelling websites since 2008. Renowned for his expertise in logo design and visual branding, Bogdan has developed a multitude of logos for various clients. His skills extend to creating posters, vector illustrations, business cards, and brochures. Additionally, Bogdan's UI kits were featured on marketplaces like Visual Hierarchy and UI8.

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25 Outstanding Photoshop Manipulation Tutorials to Sharpen Your Skills

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Photo manipulation can be one of the most fun things to do in Photoshop, and it also provides an excellent creative outlet. The process of creating a detailed photo manipulation can be intimidating if you are new to the process or if you aren’t very familiar with Photoshop’s tools, but fortunately, there are plenty of good tutorials that teach you how to create a sample manipulation.

What is Photo Manipulation?

Photo manipulations are changes digitally applied to photos for a certain effect or aesthetic. These changes are typically done through a photo editing program, such as Photoshop. This article contains tutorials to teach Photoshop photo manipulation.

With the skills and techniques you develop through these tutorials, you will be able to stretch your creativity and create beautiful works of your own in Photoshop.

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Photoshop Tutorials for Photo Manipulation

How to create an awesome splashing sneaker in photoshop.

You will simply add a splash to the back of the shoe and then add different adjustment layers along with the other customization to create an awesome-looking splashing sneaker.

Create a Splashing Sneaker

The Spirit Inside

This unique effect creates an intriguing and somewhat-creepy result.

Spirit Inside

Create a Surreal “Parting of the Sea” Photo Manipulation

An interesting step-by-step tutorial that will take you through the detailed process of using different photoshop tools such as selection tool, adding new objects and layers, masking those layers, customizing different layers and making other adjustments to achieve the desired image.

Parting of the Sea

How to Create an Awesome Dispersion Action

This is a technique that you can use with a lot of different photos, and in fact, the tutorial shows you how to create a Photoshop action. Once you have the action, you can use it with other photos very quickly.

Create Dispersion Action

Melting Portrait

This interesting photo manipulation involves a portrait of a man and a burning candle. The effect is done very well and has a surprisingly realistic look.

Melting Portrait

Beautiful Snow Queen Scene

You will learn to create a dramatic, bright and beautiful contrasting scene by adding a background, snow specks, queen and doing few simple customizations to achieve the eye-catching photograph.

Snow Queen

Forest Archer

Start with a photo of a woman and a bow and manipulate it to this forest archer scene for something a little more interesting.

Forest Archer

How to Create “Into the Wild”

You will learn to color the hair of a particular person virtually using photoshop tools, blend and customize two different backgrounds to create a unique one and refining the smart objects that we will be adding to the original image.

Into the Wild

How to Create a Dreamy Glow Effect Photo Manipulation

Manipulate a photo of a sleeping girl and another photo of a sleeping cat to create this image.

Dreamy Glow Effect

Create Awesome Floating Face Manipulation with Fiery Hair

The end result of this tutorial is an image on a dark background that features a face and fiery hair.

Floating Face

Deer Surreal Manipulation

This tutorial isn’t quite as involved as some of the others, but it still allows you to create an interesting image while perfecting your own photo manipulation skills.

Deer Surreal Manipulation

Advanced Lighting Manipulation Tutorial

Like other manipulation tutorials, you will learn to add stock images and then make a few adjustments to produce the desired apocalyptic scene.

Advanced Manipulation Lighting Tutorial

Leafy Face Photo Manipulation

Learn how to create this intriguing poster design by starting with a stock photo.

Leafy Face Photo Manipulation

Create a Forest Self Portrait

Combine a self-portrait (or a photo of someone else) with nature photos and put yourself right in the forest.

Create a Forest Self Portrait

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Create a Battleground Scene Using Stock Photography

You will learn to create your own scenic background layers and make the best use of the lasso tool. You will also learn to add new and different stock images and then blend and make a few customizations to draw a perfect scenic image.

Create a Battleground Scene

Photo Manipulate a Mystical Tribal Warrior

Combine multiple photos to place this tribal woman in a dramatic setting. Of course, you can follow along with the steps in this tutorial, but the skills you learn will allow you to complete basic manipulations for other purposes and with other types of photos.

Photo Manipulate a Mystical Tribal Warrior

Surreal Motorbike Racing Scene

Combine stock photos with some interesting geometric designs to create this piece or art.

Surreal Motorbike Racing Scene

Dramatic Photo Manipulation Tutorial

You will be learning to add a smart object along with a light source and then editing the whole image to produce a semi-realistic manipulation.

Dramatic Photo Manipulation Tutorial

Photo Manipulation of a Warrior in Battle

Create this dark image by using a few different photos and learning some new Photoshop skills.

Warrior in Battle

Create a Dark Night Hunter Scene in Photoshop

You’ll have fun learning new skills when you follow this tutorial to create a dark hunter scene.

Dark Night Hunter

Lonely Photo Manipulation Tutorial

Use photo manipulation to create an intriguing and realistic result with the help of this tutorial from PSD Box.

Lonely Photo Manipulation Tutorial

How to Create Particle Effects

This effect is similar to the dispersion tutorial mentioned earlier in this article. The particle effect that you learn can be used with many different photos for a fun and interesting result.

How to Create Particle Effects

How to Combine a Crocodile and a Frog in Photoshop

Different photoshop tools and tactics allow you to merge or incorporate two smart objects into each other. Cut the head of the crocodile, place one layer on the top of the other, customize the whole image and shade the image to match the frog and crocodile ensuring realism.

How to Combine a Crocodile and a Frog in Photoshop

Make a Surreal Loneliness Scene in Photoshop

You will learn to create darkness on the side of an image or a specific point at the image, create a shadow of any smart object and customize the image to achieve what you really want to see.

Create a Surreal Loneliness Scene

Solitude Manipulation Tutorial

You will be learning to add a smart object along with a light source and then editing the whole image to produce a realistic manipulation.

Solitude Manipulation Tutorial

After following along with a few of these tutorials, you’ll be ready to venture out on your own and experiment without the need to follow step-by-step instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Photo Manipulation

Photo manipulations are changes digitally applied to photos for a certain effect or aesthetic. These changes are typically done through a photo editing program, such as Photoshop.

Photo editing generally involves changing or improving details of a photo. You might increase contrast or improve sharpness through photo editing. It also involves touchups like removing skin blemishes or whitening teeth. Photo manipulation, on the other hand, involves major changes that alter the image significantly. It may involve creating a composite of multiple images, adding items to an image, or removing items. With photo editing, the intent is to improve the existing photo. With photo manipulation, the intent is to create something new.

You’ll need to have two separate photos: a photo of the person that you want to add, and the photo that you want to add that person to. You’ll need to select the person in the photo (this can be done using the pen tool or the lasso) and then paste them into the other photo. By following along with the tutorials on this page, you’ll learn much more about the process, including how to make it look realistic.

There are a few different ways to remove items. The easiest method is to use Photoshop’s content aware fill. Use the lasso or pen tool to select the object that you want to remove and then go to Edit > Fill and select ‘content aware fill’ and click ‘ok’. Photoshop will remove the object and replace the pixels automatically. This works well in a lot of situations, but it’s not perfect. If the background is really busy, Photoshop will not be able to get a natural look with this technique. The clone stamp tool is a good option when you need more precision.

If you’re looking for more tutorials, please see these collections:

  • Photo Editing and Touch-Up Tutorials
  • Tutorials for Working with Textures
  • Tutorials for Designing Abstract Backgrounds

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Steven is an industry veteran with nearly two decades of web design experience. He was instrumental in the launch (2007) and growth of the Vandelay Design blog. Vandelay Design is one of the leading web design blogs and has reached more than 50 million visitors. Steven has also been a regular contributor at other websites like Smashing Magazine and Envato's Tuts+ and was a contributing author for the Smashing Book. Connect with Steven at LinkedIn .

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  • Design & Illustration
  • Graphic Design
  • Photo Manipulation

Introduction to Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Abbey Esparza

Next lesson playing in 5 seconds


Learn everything you need to get started with photo manipulation in Photoshop. You'll be an image compositing expert after this photo manipulation tutorial.

In this course, you'll learn how to create new landscapes from multiple different photos, how to extract people and objects, and how to blend them into your new environments.

You'll learn the essential techniques of photo manipulation, such as how to blend in Photoshop, how to make a mask, how to cut out an image, how to select hair, sky replacement, how to create Photoshop custom brushes, and more!

You'll even find out how to create special effects, use digital painting to fill in details, and how to do color grading in Photoshop to seamlessly bring everything together.

Throughout the course, you'll create a stunning fantasy-inspired scene of an ancient ceremony taking place. By the end of this course, you'll be able to take your new skills and create your own Photoshop art!

Get started now and learn how to create a photo manipulation in Photoshop using top-quality creative assets from Envato Elements .

1. Introduction 2 lessons, 06:20

1.1 introduction 00:55, 1.2 setting up photoshop and choosing the right resources 05:25, 2. creating a landscape 2 lessons, 07:32, 2.1 sky replacement in photoshop 03:13, 2.2 adding stars and a planet to the sky 04:19, 3. compositing a subject 6 lessons, 29:42, 3.1 image compositing in photoshop 06:28, 3.2 how to cut out an image in photoshop using the pen tool 03:04, 3.3 how to select hair in photoshop 03:05, 3.4 how to use the object selection tool in photoshop 03:12, 3.5 how to blend in photoshop using layer modes 03:01, 3.6 lighting effects in photoshop 10:52, 4. adding details 3 lessons, 13:42, 4.1 painting simple details 05:35, 4.2 painting with adjustment layers 03:01, 4.3 creating depth 05:06, 5. color correction in photoshop 1 lesson, 04:01, 5.1 color grading in photoshop 04:01, 6. conclusion 1 lesson, 01:12, 6.1 conclusion 01:12.

Abbey Esparza


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