Photographers capture a spectacular view of the world. But photo manipulation artists create their own worlds.
Mixing photography and Photoshop creates inspiring, awe-inducing, thought-provoking images of the impossible.
Photo manipulation includes everything from the surreal to the political commentary. So where do you begin creating your own photo manipulation or alterations?
Following digital manipulation artists will inspire you. And it’s a great way to get more familiar with the genre.
Here are 21 excellent photo manipulation artists and their work.
21. Brooke Shaden
A fine art photographer, Brooke Shaden often photographs herself. Then she manipulates the image into another world. She describes her work as a look at the juxtaposition of light and dark within people.
Her images often look like they could have come from a fantasy storybook. Or even off the walls of art museums.
She started with minimal gear and resources. And she continues to often use herself as a model for her work. Hailing from Pennsylvania, she’s also an author and speaker.
Follow Brooke Shaden on Instagram for a glimpse at what’s possible in the genre. Even if the only model you have available is yourself.
20. Aydın Büyüktaş
Aydın Büyüktaş earned viral fame for his series of mind-bending aerial drone images, Flatlay. The series takes aerial landscapes and folds them away from you. As if the ground could bend like a sheet of paper.
He crafts his images using a mix of planning, composites and 3D software.
The Flatlay series earned him viral fame. But his earlier work also includes several successful mind-bending series. These question reality and even the laws of gravity. Büyüktaş is a native of Turkey.
Follow Büyüktaş on Instagram for mind-bending photo manipulation examples.
19. Bára Prášilová
Bára Prášilová makes the impossible playful. She uses bright, bold colors and unusual photo manipulation ideas. She is a photographer and art director in Prague. And her work has earned numerous awards and gallery exhibitions.
Her work often draws attention to something that’s missing, or similarities between two otherwise unrelated objects. Images often feature women in unusual poses or photo manipulations. Prášilová is also a Hasselblad ambassador.
Follow Bára Prášilová on Instagram for a colorful mix between fine art and humor.
18. Erik Johansson
According to his biography, Erik Johansson views a photograph not as a moment, but as an idea. He blends and manipulates several images together to create a surreal scene.
Johansson says he aims to make that scene look as realistic as possible. Even when capturing a physically impossible world.
From unzipping a road to installing the moon. His work questions reality while creating an impossible, yet inspiring scene.
Follow Johansson on Instagram for surreal images that inspire.
17. Charlie Davoli
Charlie Davoli is a surrealist photographer. He often uses photo manipulation to juxtapose two different ideas. That juxtaposition, according to his bio, stems from a move from Singapore to Italy as a child.
His photography art is also inspired by his former work as a musician.
His photo manipulation work includes flip-flopping the ground and the sky. Blending opposite places into the same scene. Or bringing the sky down to earth (or everyday objects up to the sky).
Follow Davoli on Instagram for inspiration on mixing two different worlds into one.
Dimitry Rogozhkin’s work looks like it could have come straight from an apocalyptic Hollywood hit. He often mixes photo manipulation with portraiture.
His work is also inspired by a long-time love of drawing and art. His Instagram is an organized grid that deserves a second and a third look. The Russian photographer also travels often and captures his adventures.
Follow Rogozhkin on Instagram for a blend of photo manipulation, prop work, and art.
15. Jati Putra
Jati Putra isn’t a photographer, but a graphic designer. It’s that background that helps the Indonesia-based artist create images that make viewers pause to digest what they’re seeing.
His work adapts existing images. But it often makes it difficult to tell which way is up or down. Oceans bend at a 90 degree angle, flat landscapes become three sides to a rectangle.
Follow Jati Putra on Instagram for gravity-defying photo manipulation.
14. Robert Jahns
Robert Jahns (Nois7) may be a photo manipulaton artist, but his work is so well done, the images look lifelike. Jahns is an art director, photographer, and digital artist. He creates vibrant painterly images using photo manipulation techniques.
While his work often plays with the impossible, he uses the natural world to give a life-like quality to his art.
Follow Robert Jahns on Instagram for colorful photo manipulation. He’ll show you a world you could almost reach out and touch.
13. Anka Zhuravleva
Anka Zhuravela spent her childhood sketching. As an adult, she realized her drawings and paintings were often inspired by photographs.
After picking up photography, Zhuravelva became a visual artist. She often mixes her art background with her photographs for inspiring photo manipulation images. The Russian artist has been featured in several gallery exhibitions.
Follow Zhuravela on Instagram for photo manipulation inspired by painting and drawing.
12. Eugenio Recuenco
Eugenio Recuenco is a Madrid-born photographer with a painter background. He creates impossible images using more than just digital manipulation. Recuenco creates his own sets.
That, mixed with a background in art and inspiration from historic art periods, creates otherworldly images. His latest work makes real people look like part of a museum exhibit.
Follow Recunenco for photo manipulation inspiration steeped in classic art periods and paintings.
11. Frieke Janssens
Frieke Janssens is a surreal conceptual photographer. She creates images from photo manipulation and composing, as well as elaborately planned sets and props.
The Belgian photographer studied drawing and painting. Her work is often controversial, tackling tough subjects. But it’s that controversy that makes her work so memorable.
Follow Frieke Janssens on Instagram for impeccable, intense images and behind-the-scene glimpses.
10. Lara Zankoul
Lara Zankoul is a self-taught photographer. She learned to experiment — a skill that’s still integral to her work. Even now after several international galleries.
According to her biography, Zankoul aims to capture issues in society and everyday behavior. But also to allow the viewer to draw their own conclusions.
Her work is striking and versatile. She follows a series of white with a series of vibrant, colorful images with strong lines and pattern.
Follow Zankoul on Instagram for inspiration for fine art photo manipulation.
Tommy Inberg had always enjoyed photography. But he went to college and started a career as a computer programmer before he started using photography as a therapy.
From there, Inberg mixed his computer background with his passion for photography in fine art. The Sweedish photographer uses series of images to tell a story. He often does it through juxtaposition or by removing something integral.
Follow Tommy Inberg on Instagram for award-winning, provocative images.
Artist Alberto Seveso’s interest in the CD covers of the 90s sparked a lifelong passion for artwork. An original spark that still shows traces in his work.
Seveso is both a photographer and illustrator. He often mixes the two mediums together to create unique, inspiring artwork.
He’s also worked with several major brands. These include names familiar to photographers like Adobe, Nikon, and Sony.
Follow Seveso on Instagram for an inspiring cross between photography and illustration.
Artist Unknown i an isn’t exactly unknown — he’s Ian De Novellis, a digital artist. Unknown i an hasn’t had decades of art experience. But his work encompasses an impressive array of colorful images.
His work is often an incredible mashup from a jellyfish carnival ride to a polar bear made from clouds.
Follow Unknown i an on Instagram. You’ll find inspiration from a quickly growing new Photoshop artist.
An interest in abandoned homes is what first inspired Kyle Thompson to pick up a camera. This initial inspiration can still be seen in his work today.
Much of his work is a self portrait taken in a forlorn location. While he’s often his own model, his work often hides his face, so it’s easy to imagine anyone in the image.
Not all his images are a result of Photoshop manipulation. But he often uses compositing to create surreal images that occasionally feel like a post-apocalyptic movie.
He also says he only knows the basics for Photoshop composting. If that’s true, his work shows what’s possible even without extensive Photoshop training.
Follow Thompson on Instagram. He’s the proof that you don’t have to be a Photoshop master to create photo manipulation art.
5. Shaun Ryken
Shaun Ryken is a graphic designer based in Ontario. His work, which often looks straight out of a sci-fi movie, has amassed him more than 45,000 fans on Instagram.
He says Photoshop helps him escape — and he creates images that help viewers escape into a fantasy world too.
Follow Shaun Ryken on Instagram for dramatic, colorful images of a fictional world.
4. Tim El-Helou
A 22-year-old student in Germany. Tim El-Helou’s work shows an impressive understanding of Photoshop techniques. His work often puts something out-of-place, alters scale, or both.
The result is often an image that almost looks real, until it makes you look twice. El-Helou also shares tips and tricks on mastering the photo manipulation on YouTube.
Follow Tim El-Helou on Instagram for larger-than-life photo manipulations. Or on YouTube for tricks at mastering Photoshop manipulation.
3. Rafy A
Going just by Rafy A, this digital artist is worth following. Not only for the stunning imagery, but because he will teach you how to do the same thing with your own work.
His Instagram is a feed of fantasy worlds. And his YouTube channel shows just how the image was created.
Follow Rafy A on Instagram for fantasy inspiration. Or on YouTube to learn your own photo manipulation tricks.
Another artist that invites fans to see the behind-the-scenes process. Andhika Zanhuar creates fantasy worlds using Photoshop manipulation techniques.
Besides seeing his work on Instagram, you can see how the image was created on YouTube.
Follow Zanuar for a mix of fantasy inspiration and photo manipulation tutorials.
No, Adobe Photoshop isn’t an artist. But what better way to find new, upcoming artists than by following the tool that most of them use?
Photoshop’s Instagram is full of every type of photo manipulator in every style. It’s a great account to follow if you want photo manipulation examples from many artists.
Follow Adobe Photoshop on Instagram for a stream of photo manipulation not limited to a single style or artist.
Photographs most often capture the real world. Seeing a manipulated image makes us pause to think and reconsider the way we view the world.
Expert photo manipulation artists know that. And they spend their time creating fine art, imagining new worlds and creating surrealist images with a digital brush.
From manipulating scale to literally bending worlds. These artists demonstrate what’s possible with a good image, Photoshop — and an imagination.
Follow these top Photoshop artists. You can whet your appetite with a steady stream of inspirational edits.
Featured image by JR Kopa, Unsplash