Photographer Turns Everyday Images Into Mind-Boggling Ones

Photo Manipulations are always very interesting to watch because because they give a realistic view of an unreal picture. And one Swedish artist has turned the world on its head by taking photos of everyday life and distorting them into mind-boggling pieces of art.

Go Your Own Road (2008). Sensational photographer Erik Johansson shows a man pick up a road and drag it casually behind him like a sheet. Photo: Erik Johansson

Photo Manipulations are always very interesting to watch because because they give a realistic view of an unreal picture. And one Swedish artist has turned the world on its head by taking photos of everyday life and distorting them into mind-boggling pieces of art.

Erik Johansson, a 23-year-old computer engineering student, from Sweden has a sense for good ideas for manipulations. While most people try to hide when they use Photoshop to brush up their pictures, Erik Johansson quite obviously distorts images but does it so cleverly that we almost start believing in the amazing illusions he creates.

In one shot (see the photo above,) a man appears to pick up a tarmac road and drag it behind him like a sheet; in another a young man seems to be ironing his own two-dimensional body (see the photo below.)

Ironing out some kinks in the character - Stryktalig (2008). A normal-looking man irons his own two-dimensional body. Photo: Erik Johansson

Unlike digital artists who find random pictures they can build upon, Johansson’s work is his own, 100 per cent. He comes up with an idea for a new image, sets out to take the pictures and then gets to work at them with imaging software. In many of his stunning images, he is even the model whose face gets distorted, who strolls through a summer landscape or is a mere marionette hanging by threads.

Erik, who lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, said: “I get inspiration from almost everywhere. I actually get most of the ideas from things that happen in my daily life.”

Noughts and Crosses: An idle street worker takes on a digger. Photo: Erik Johansson

Johannson got his first digital camera at age 15 and even though he started manipulating the images he took early on, initially he did it solely for fun. Only when he bought his first SLR camera in 2007 did he start taking photo retouching and manipulations more seriously.

Asked in an interview with Abduzeedo.com about “where does his inspiration come?!” from and “how does he come up with the ideas?” Johannson said: “That is a hard question because I can’t really tell. The inspiration is everywhere in the daily life, but I also look a lot at photos and drawings on the web. I think the most important thing is to make a note of every idea, otherwise it will might be gone in a few seconds.”

The sky's the limit: A labourer lays a reflection on the road. Photo: Erik Johansson

Given the skill level involved, he estimates that each of his photographs takes between 10 and 20 hours from concept to final image. Asked in an interview with abduzeedo.com about his workflow, he admits: “I always have a sketch of the final idea. But it always ends up different, in a good way mostly. When I have come up with an idea I try to find good spots to use for the photos and then it’s time for the photoshopping.”

Walking in the air: A dog owner gives her lazy pet a lift with balloons. Photo: Erik Johansson

The young photographer draws inspiration from artists like M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and others but also from photos and drawings he sees on the Net. He shares some advice on keeping the good ideas coming: “I think the most important thing is to make a note of every idea, otherwise it might be gone in a few seconds.”

In an interview with Don’t Panic magazine, Johannson explained the motifs behind his work: “My goal is to make pictures as realistic as possible, but at the same time impossible. Many photographers try to look weird, so I try to make my shots as plausible as possible. I would say I try to use humour a lot and I rarely have a didactic message. Sometimes I want to tell something, but mostly I want people to interpret.”

Much like an iceberg, this island lacks the firmest foundations. Fishy Island (2009) Photo: Erik Johansson

Erik Johansson said: “To look at a situation in a different and unexpected way can sometimes generate ideas but the best ideas I get just come to me. Everything I do is very well planned. I almost never go out photographing without any idea about what I will do with the photos. Looking for the right place to shoot the photos is actually what takes up most of my time.”

“The time required to put the photo together is very different depending on the photos that I have. It mostly takes between 10 to 20 hours, sometimes more. ‘I like to change my photos in impossible and strange ways. From the beginning I started to modify photos just for fun, and I still think it is,” he added.

Check more stunning photographs on Erik Johansson’s personal website or see his profile in a swedish community. [via Daily Mail (UK) and Abduzeedo]

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.