Fantasy photography is a style of photography featuring fictional scenes with fantastic or surreal elements. It aims to bring viewers to some dreamlike worlds that differ from the real one. They usually represent a concept from a book or a film.
The main components of fantasy image photography are a subject in the frame and the unusual background.
While some fantasy photographers described below are well known already, others are still waiting for recognition. Anyway, all of them have created eye-catching pics that may give you new creative ideas and change your approach to fantasy photography.
Kirsty Mitchell uses her previous experience in fashion design and costume making to produce appealing fantasy photographs. In “Wonderland”, each of her pics is made in one color gamut; for example, a White Queen is surrounded by the monochromatic settings, a woman in a light violet dress lays in the field of violet flowers, etc.
Kirsty calls her approach a ‘Fantasy for Real’ and spends months to handcraft her characters’ costumes and accessories to end up with an integral composition. What is more, she has been planning some of her works for a year, and then spent almost five months to bring her ideas to life.
Annie Leibovitz is a talented shooter known for taking the most iconic photos. She cooperated with Disney and depicted celebrities as Disney characters from classic animated Disney films. For example, Jennifer Lopez was Jasmine, Taylor Swift became Rapunzel, Scarlett Johansson was dressed as Cinderella and Queen Latifah played a role of Ursula, etc.
She creates unique fantasy photographs skillfully combing light, color and image post-processing techniques. As a result, each Annie’s work has its own story and mood.
Creating ethereal fantasy photography, Bella Kotak draws her inspiration from fairytales. She combines luxurious colors with bountiful nature. Trying to transport the viewer to the world of her imagination, Bella’s fine art photography includes a rich variety of clothes, accessories, models and scenery. Her works are targeted at women, so they are full of feminine sentiment.
Cheryl Walsh works in the sphere of underwater photography. Using a waterproof camera, she creates photographs in her underwater studio where the quiet currents slow down time, bring vibrancy to colors and leave her subjects virtually weightless.
She sticks to vintage and avant-garde fashion, which is obvious from the way dancers, models and other participants are dressed to create a unique story in each of her fantasy photographs.
In her creative works, Margarita Kareva depicts women as magical creatures. She is a Russian photographer, who uses real-life costumes, makeup, and props and polishes the results of the shooting in Adobe Photoshop. Adjusting the contrast, white balance and lighting, Kareva turns an ordinary photograph into a magical one.
Implementing her dream-like ideas, Grace Almera combines fantasy photography with fashion. She brings dream worlds to life by using imaginative concepts together with detailed costumes and accessories. She wants to transport the viewer to some far-off places depicting fairy-tale, ethereal and emotional characters.
Her style is emotional and atmospheric. She creates dreamy, painting-like images. If you are interested in her creative style, watch Photoshop tutorials and image-editing guides on her YouTube channel.
Lillian Liu realized that she had nothing in common with realism at the beginning of her career and started developing her own photo editing style by trial and error. She describes her style as a combination of fantasy photography with very liberal image post-processing.
Greatly inspired by epic tales, folk legends, movies, and roleplaying games, Lillian mixes digital painting with portrait shots creating fantasy characters and magic backgrounds.
Agnieszka Lorek developed her own photography fantasy style that involves costume design, modeling, photography and hand-painted photomanipulation.
For today, Lorek is a world-known shooter inspired by classic music. It’s interesting to know that she mastered photography skills taking self-portraits. Lorek took images of herself because she didn’t know any models, who she could partner with.
The distinguishing feature of this photographer is that she depicts only women. Lucie Amulett is a photographer that likes to take pics resembling scenes from a fantasy novel. Her favorite look for women is “dirty with messy hair”.
If you look through her fantasy photographs, you will see a woman leaning against a tree with a hilt laid to her neck, Valkyries, nymphs, Viking women, etc.
Being a fantasy photographer, Hannah Walker is also a skillful designer. She produced amazing costumes featuring details that are works of art by themselves. As a rule, she spends months preparing everything for the project.
Stanislav Istratov associates fantasy photography with a high-fashion photography. The striking example of his creativity is a “Strawberry” project. While other fantasy photographers rely on magical landscapes and costumes, Istratov uses make-up and accessories to create the illusion of a fantasy.
Susan Shroder is a shooter, who skillfully mixes illustration with photography creating impressive works of art. She got interested in both styles and soon understood that it would be great to combine them in her works.
Susan often uses real models in costumes and with makeup to create a magic atmosphere. In addition, she resorts to image post-processing programs to paint some unique details.
Based in Sweden, Erik Johansson is one of the best fantasy photographers, who creates surreal scenes combining several photographs. Erik mastered all his photography and retouching skills through trial and error. His famous work ‒ “Full Moon Service” required eight months to be fully completed.
He brought seven rice lamps, seven light bulbs, an electric generator, a car and two models to the field. The most challenging image retouching task was to apply a moon texture to the rice balls.
Maria Flore is a French artist creating surreal photography works. Her photographs feature young girls sleeping and levitating in the air being lifted by unexpected objects. Maria’s images sway between reality and imagination.
Scenes in her works are inspired by her childhood memories.
Nicolas Bruno is a photographer, who has suffered from sleep paralysis for 10 years. Therapy for this disease resulted in his creative expression ‒ in such a way he tried to cope it. Nicolas created amazing self-portraits depicting himself both, as a victim and adversary.
Rosie Hardy, a Manchester-based photographer, may be called one of the best self-portrait photographers. She boasts self-portraits set in fantasy worlds full of romance and beauty. Rosie has her blog and defines herself as an “escape artist”.
Her self portrait photography is full of somber romantic colors making the viewer feel tranquility and romance.
Jairo Alvarez is an Argentina-based photographer creating fantasy photographs that feature conceptual elements. His creations may be called real head-scratches; these are lipstick-shaped makeshift rockets, a man emerging from water in a chicken mask, glowing grapes in a vineyard and more. It may be snippets from the dream or visual representations of your most ridiculous thoughts.
Laurent Chehere is a French photographer, who cooperated with such world-known companies as Audi, Nike, etc. He left commercial photography, and started traveling around the world and visited various countries, like China, Argentina, Columbia, and Bolivia.
Inspired by his world travels, Laurent created the flying houses series where he used his shots taken in various parts of the world. This surreal photography series shows ordinary buildings, like hotels, circus tents, trailers, and graffiti-covered structures from the urban settings soaring somewhere in the air.
Joel Robison is a Canadian fantasy photographer, who never ceases to amaze with his creative imaginative photography portfolio.
His fantasy photographs are inspired by fairy tales. The shooter also works as a model, playing with size ratios and ordinary objects. He incorporates ordinary objects as props, but gives them a more imaginative and playful feel.
Logan Zillmer is a bright representative of fantasy image photography famous for creating surreal works. It is interesting to know, that his career started in 2013 when he decided to take one photo a day. He called this a 365-day project.
Soon he started learning PS by himself and began mixing camera techniques with Photoshop post-production methods. Logan believes that for now, the “Crew” photo is one of the most important works in his life.
A Russian shooter, Platon Urich, is a favorite of all lovers of extraordinary shots. His every work is smoothly separated from the customary reality, staying on the border between reality and dreams.
Some of his fantasy photographs are created using Photoshop; some of them become fairytale-like because of the creative usage of ordinary objects.
Working in the sphere of digital photography, Natacha Einat uses manipulation to create fantasy photographs. She knows how to photograph the moon and other solar objects perfectly. Then she uses those photos in her fantasy projects. As a result, the images are creative and dreamy.
Most fantasy photographers can’t do without Adobe Photoshop, but Adrien Broom is an exception.
Doing surreal photography, Broom completely relies on her skills as an artist and craftsperson. Her famous work, “The Color Project”, is a detailed eight-part exploration of the world of color as perceived by a little girl.
Sarah Ann Loreth touches the viewer with her provoking, eye-catching images depicting her inner feelings. She is a self-taught photographer, who doesn’t rely on her props but focuses on the emotions in her fantasy photographs.
She is brave enough to explore themes that others may find uncomfortable. Loreth involves the viewer into the frame evoking the feeling of oneness of human experience. Looking at her works, we become interested in the story depicted and want to know how it unfolds.
Working in the self-portraiture genre, Brooke Shaden creates mysterious and atmospheric works of art. She uses a painterly approach involving nature touches; however, we may also observe touches of surreal photography in the frame.
Most of her images are dark, timeless and strange, creating the montage of different worlds.
The biggest part of work in fantasy photography is done in photo editing programs. Therefore, I have compiled the list of the best freebies that might come in handy one day. Using these tools, you can add some magic to the frame.
It is a great overlay to enhance your fantasy photographs if you want to add a light leak. It will boost the colors in your photo and fill it with light.
It is a perfect tool to create a wow effect. Using it, you will add warm yellow gleams that spread all over the image.
Looking for some tools to add mystery to your fantasy photography? This smoke Photoshop overlay will add subtle wisps of smoke to your photos and make them really enigmatic.
This Lr preset will greatly help while editing fantasy portrait photography results. It is best suited for dark images with deep shadows. It will instantly add a gorgeous chocolate toning.
Double exposure is not an easy technique but it will definitely help you save much time and boost productivity. Your images will become dreamy and fantastic in a matter of seconds.