Jul 25, 2012

Exploring Your Imagination

Congratulations to the Winners of last week’s contest! We had to pick three this week because your entries were just so good! Congratulations to Rubén ChaseLauri Laukkanen, and Karina Boissonnier!
Please contact us here to let us know what Phlearn PRO you guys would like. Congratulations to the three of you!


Exploring Your Imagination: Dreams, the Subconscious, & Surrealism

By: Jenna Petrone

From reading last week’s article, “Conceptual Photography: The Importance of the Story,” you now have an idea and plenty of inspiration on how to think of concepts and plan out your photo shoots. If you haven’t read the article yet, I highly recommend it.  In this week’s article, we are going to explore the imagination and the ideas and possibilities that can come out of simply using yourself as Inspiration.

Dreams & Your Imagination

No matter who you are, everyone dreams.  Some people remember dreams more than others, and some people barley remember their dreams at all. Have you ever thought about pulling ideas for your photography or art in general from your dreams whether they are daydreams or nocturnal dreams?

In Sigmund Freud’s essay, “The Relation of the Poet to Day-Dreaming” in his book, On Creativity and the Unconscious, Freud analyzed how poets are able to write the material that they do.  I believe what he says about poets can be related to anyone who produces creative work: artists, photographers, filmmakers, writers, and more.

Freud states that when we were children, we used playing as a form of expressing our creativity and our imaginations. We weren’t afraid of sharing our imagination and our play with other people and we were able to bring our imagination into the real world with no problem at all. As we grow older, we start to take life more seriously and more responsibility is thrown onto our shoulders.  Freud believes that when we grow older, instead of playing and expressing our imagination to other people, we substitute it with daydreams.  We get almost the same experience from daydreaming as we did playing as a child. Poets, as well as other people who create, use daydreaming as a Tool to express themselves in their creative work.

You know we all do it, daydreaming is something that just happens to us naturally and we can’t avoid it. Our mind wanders everywhere and as artists, we should take full advantage of that. While daydreaming, we tend to reference the past, present, and future all in a short amount of time. Imagine the ideas and concepts you can come up with by simply exploring your own imagination and observing how your thoughts connect with each other!

While we are sleeping, our dreams are very similar to daydreams but we have less control over them and sometimes, they just don’t make any sense at all.  Nocturnal dreams are more surreal and often have a sublime feeling to them and can help inspire some pretty awesome concepts for art.  This is when surrealism comes into play.


Using dreams and the subconscious thoughts of humans has been used in art ever since surrealism first entered the art world.  Surrealism is an “artistic and literary moment, dedicated to expressing the imagination as a revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention” (Art Republic). Some popular surrealist artists include painters such as Salavor Dali, René Magritte, André Masson and photographers such as Man Ray, Jerry N. Uelsmann, and André Kertész. All of these surrealist artists have had a huge influence on the art world and especially with the Conceptual Photography we see today. With the technology of Photoshop, our imaginations, and Inspirations like these artists, we are able to create different worlds with the same surreal feel to them as these artists did in their art work.

My challenge to you is to step out of the ordinary.  Sure, you can be inspired by a book, a song, or by looking at other artists work, but what about being inspired by yourself & your own thoughts?  There are plenty of contemporary photographers and artists out there who use their thoughts, nocturnal dreams, and daydreams to their advantage. Here are some examples:

A photographer and artist who goes by the name of Michael Vincent Manalo, is a great example of someone who take advantage of his personal thoughts and puts them into his artwork.  According to a video he has on his website, Michael is inspired by his subconscious, dreams, the surreal painter Salvador Dali, and what he sees in his every day life.  He takes the Inspiration and uses a combination of photography and Digital Art to create his images.

“A Requiem for Self-Destruction” & “Remembrances of the Soul” by Michael Vincent Manalo

From looking at his images, I definitely wonder what is going on and why the images look the way they do.  They are bizarre, well put together, and they have a painterly quality to them which makes them the unique images that they are.

A photographer who I recently stumbled upon on flickr, Chiara Fersini, otherwise known as Himitsuhana, is an extremely talented artist who puts personal elements into each one of her images.  Here is her artist statement from her website:

“Photography is not just a passion to me; It is the best way to show the intricate world that I feel inside.  I put my fears, my dreams, my sorrow, and my joy into my works.  To see them happening in images is a manner to become free.”

I admire Chiara for her honesty and how she incorporates herself, her thoughts, and her dreams into her photography so well.  One of her images that stood out to me is an image of her standing in an ocean with a huge wave coming towards her.  Her back is faced to the camera and she seems to be standing there with such composure, like she’s not scared of the wave at all and she is going to embrace it instead of running away.  Or, it can be the complete opposite, maybe the wave has scared her to the point where’s she’s so terrified she can’t move.  According to her flickr, this picture is a “representation of a very frequent dream of mine.”  I think it’s a very powerful image that not only has a dream-like feel to it, but a sublime one as well.

After some personal experience, viewing other artists, and reading up on dreams and how our brains work, I believe that using yourself for inspiration is one of the best ways to approach art. It allows you to explore your subconscious, you as a person, and it lets you share your imagination with the world in a creative way.

The Challenge

This week, I challenge you to step out of the ordinary.  Explore your imagination, your dreams, and look at some surrealist art.  Make the impossible, possible and show us how your mind works through a photograph.  This week’s contest is very open, you can take & submit any type of image that you want as long as it was inspired by YOU.  We would love to hear about the image and your thought process behind it as well.  Please submit your image in the comments below for a chance to win a Phlearn PRO.  All submissions must be in by noon CST on August 1st.  Here are some examples of images Angela & I have created based on our thoughts, dreams, and the idea of surrealism:


I chose this image to be included in this week’s article because it is surreal and dream-like without over doing it.  The concept is simple; the only thing that is out of the ordinary in this picture is the Shadow of an unidentified girl.  It’s slightly twisting a realistic shot to make the viewer look twice and question what’s really going on. Sometimes that’s all you need in a picture, one element that is slightly odd and out of place to capture the viewers attention.  That was my intention; I wanted the viewer to be intrigued yet confused at the same time.  I feel like that’s what dreams are like and how people are supposed to view surrealist art.


Text-align: left;”>This is a photo I took for my second 365 days photo project. I titled it “Beautifully Disfigured”. When I look at this photo on my Flickr to read about it and to see what my thoughts about it were at the time, there is hardly anything wrote there. Other than me talking about how I chose to spend my time that day, as well as that this shot was compiled together with 50 images, and it took 3 hours for me to put it together.

Text-align: left;”>When I think about how I got this idea, and go through the pages in my notebook, it seems as if I got the idea from no where. From a dream perhaps, whether it be daydreaming on my walk home from school or a dream had in my slumber. I just remember thinking of a story of a girl who is trapped somewhere within her own thoughts. She is caught in a world of torture and pain, but it’s a world that she put herself into, yet can’t seem to get herself out of. Kind of being stuck in a state of mind that you can’t seem to get yourself out of, or being stuck in a rut. The assortment of hands represent these thoughts.

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  • user image

    When I was a kid, I wanted to fly so bad!  So I made this for my day 7!  I shot all the portions of this image seperate.  I threw big rocks into the water to get splashes to match the ‘muck’ that the water had, and composited those in. Then, shot the background, finally had my brother take a picture of me simply jumping!  Then sat down and had fun in Photoshop experimenting with making my image in my head come to life. 

    My goal of the image wasn’t to just create a picture of me floating, but my original idea was to create and build an image fully with stock that i took that day also rather then grabbing images of water off of google.  So it was fun having to sit for awhile and think about how I wanted to go about getting the water to match and how I wanted to put it together and I just really enjoyed putting this shot together.  I had a great time doing it!

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    Patty Maher

    I am always searching for new and creative ideas for my photos – I get inspired by other photographers, by a song or a poem, or sometimes I just work spontaneously and piece it together. And then sometimes the ideas just seem to come to me, as if they have come from some place else. For this photo I was driving by this location and it was almost as if the idea came from these hills – I could feel it reach out and touch me.

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    Lia Niobe

    The picture overall is very surrealistic. They are all elements that are normal, I see them nearly everyday (a street lamp, a field,…), but put together they create a scene that is alien to us.
    I like about surrealism that it says so clearly wrong, but still seems right in a way.

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    Rubén Chase

    The picture made by Angela is just stunning. The work behind that (I imagine is a lot) really worth it!

    This is my submission for this week:

    I took this a few weeks ago, in the middle of the final exams. I was sleeping only 6 hours a day, and my head was about to explode because of the migraines. I was literally dreaming awake all day, and I can’t get this concept out of my head, so, in one of my “studying rests”, I took the base photo, and I edited it to calm down my mind and focus on the studying.

    Hope you like it guys!

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    Mayank Thammalla

    I have always been fascinated by the idea of teleportation. The idea of how it would feel to go through a threshold and reappear somewhere else. Image how easy it would be to travel around the world. Recently, I have been trying to my hardest to get over to England to meet up with a child-hood friend and also with meet my biggest inspiration and favourite photographer. Then this idea had struck me and inspired me to take this photo.

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    Michelle Magnoli

    Here is my submission. This is a self portrait (I am cloned, in case you can’t tell:)). I love surreal photography, it is my favorite!

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    Although I carried a camera around even before I knew what it’s purpose was, I didnt view photography as an art form until digital cameras came along. I was a surrealist painter for awhile, using my photos as inspiration and my work made it into some great art exhibits. When I picked up my first rebel and started tinkering around in photoshop I realized that I could get the same results, even quicker with digital cameras & photoshop. I still struggle translating my concepts from my head into art, and I am never honestly happy with my work because of it. No matter how many great compliments I get I am not satisfied with the outcome. 

    The first image was a spoof of commercial perfumes and makeup advertisements; a play on how everything is inspired by nature yet in the production of it, animals usually suffer and are test subjects. There is a bee and an ocean scene hidden

    The second is a reflection on how our wildlife is stripped from its natural inhabitants for our enjoyment. I got the idea from memories of when I was a kid and how I would capture frogs, bugs, lizards etc. in jars and my uncle (a nature nut) would make me release them.

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    Marc Captain Marayag

     i’ve always been fascinated by levitation – i rarely step out of the box with my photography since i am all about learning the basics first but this idea was something i had to do – i love things in motion especially when it makes you think how in the world is this happening!


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    Sarah Allegra

    I think I may have submitted this one before, but I feel like it’s my best match for this contest 🙂

    This self portrait was directly inspired by the disease I have, myalgic encephalomyelitis (aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).  The exact cause of it is still unknown, as is how to help it, but one current theory lists it as an auto immune disease, similar to lupus and MS.  The idea of my body fighting with itself, being in a state of civil war, gave this photo it’s direction; my body throwing up what it thinks are defenses (the metal bars and cage) which actually only limits and hurts me more.  The imprisoned, browning flowers touch on the long-term effects of living with any chronic illness.  I chose a pale, pink-toned color pallet to highlight how delicate ME/CFS people feeltheir bodies become.  And there are probably a few more symbolic elements I’m forgetting right now, but there was a lot of thought put in this 🙂

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    Adrian Bialasek

    Hi guys,

    here is my submission (times 2 hope thats ok):
    1. four seasons –

    the idea (inspired by some online work) was to create a timelapse photo of the scenery of all 4 seasons put together.

    2. Derezzed –

    one of the photos I did for a friend of mine, he`s a DJ and we both love the new Tron movie so decided to go with this theme.

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    Beata Rydén

    “This is my place”

    I am currently working on a photographic series that I call Finding Peace. It´s about the importance of integrity, and about finding your own place in this world where you can feel safe.

    In this picture I wanted to show someone who has found her own space where no one can enter. I use the bubble to illustrate integrity. The red fabric is both dramatic and a strong color. I wanted the fabric to be some kind of armour around the woman, a red armour that arises if anyone comes too close. Have you found your own space in this world, and are you able to preserve it?

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    Lauri Laukkanen

    This is one of my first manipulated photographs, shot and edited in February 2012. Whit this I wanted to show that I have nothing to cover. I live my life, like I do, and ‘m not going to hide any of it. I’m not ashamed of myself. With that said, here it is: “Nothing to cover”

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    Impossible things

    “What is possible and impossible is up to you. You decide it!”

    All my pictures are pretty surrealistic and based on dreams or unordinary ideas. In fact I had my first exhibition two weeks ago which was calles ‘Dream worlds’. I love to make surreal photographs. Photographs which may seem crazy and still…they look real for a moment. Exploring the fine line between dreams and the reality is the thing I love doing most! 

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    Hi my name is Taqdees .I am student of Graphic Design .I done photo manipulation in my thesis on the topic dream and reality .I write synopsis for my thesis but i make difficulty in witting problem statement or thesis statement………..please any one gave me some suggestion that will be helpful for me?