Hashtag Life

As you'll probably know I am a huge fan of composite images, images built using lots of different photographs all merged together to make one. Hashtag life is one of these images. All of my composite images are made up from images photographed by myself, I do not ever use any stock images at all. This piece was one of my hardest ones and took me around 2 weeks to build, the most challenging part was dealing with the water and glass! I love to be challenged with my work and this one certainly achieved that. I thought I'd show the work that went in to this and a little bit of how it was achieved.

This is my most successful image winning me a gold award, a merit award (scoring 89/100), Judges Choice Award October 2016, Overall Winner Judges Choice Award 2016 and 2nd Digital Art Photographer of the Year 2016 with The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers


This took 83 layers in Adobe Photoshop, which consisted of adjustment layers and many many images. 

First step was to lay down the base for the image and create the background plate. I had previously photographed this worktop for another composite image, with glycerine for 'water' so figured I would use this for the cat so sit on

It needed to be darker....

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Next for a background. I visited a local museum with their permission and photographed one of their 'set up' rooms, an old kitchen. This was blurred to give a nice depth to the image

Next for the cat. I put out an advert on my Facebook page for a fluffy, grumpy cat. I actually had a pretty good response to this advert. This little lady's name is Boo, she naturally has a tongue that pokes out so was perfect for this image. I visited Boo's home for this shoot and luckily Boo's owner Melissa was happy for me to photograph her both dry and wet! Boo didn't mind either (thankfully)

I needed to use the liquify tool in Adobe Photoshop to bring Boo's fur in at the neck to match the bowl

I own many animals (5 dogs, 2 rabbits and 2 mice) and decided I needed to add more mischief to my image. My mice are beautiful and friendly so Squeak was my model for me here (RIP little Squeak, she sadly passed away the day I returned from the big photographic convention with all my awards for her image :( ) 

Next I needed a goldfish to go in the bowl. While I also own many fish it's not easy photographing in my pond and tropical fish wouldn't work so I visited my local friendly pet store who allow me to photograph their animals whenever I need something different! I had to photograph the fish through the plexiglass of an outdoor holding tank with a mobile phone! Not an easy task to grab a useable image. As he's only going to be a small element in the image I wasn't too worried about loss of detail (he is going to be behind 'glass' and in 'water')

Next step was the bowl. This was probably the hardest part of this image....cutting out glass in Adobe photoshop and making it look believable! I had photographed the bowl in the pet shop (same place as the fish) using a mobile phone! 


The edge of the bowl was liquified to turn it in to a more traditional goldfish bowl

Although Boo was wet (photographed dry first then wet) I couldn't have pouring or dripping water on her so I found a piece of fur of a similar colour to Boo to photographed water pouring and dripping to add to Boo's fur to make the water in the bowl 'leak' down her front

Just some final tone and brightness adjustments and a bit of dodging and burning and we have the finished image. I wish I'd noted the hours spent on this image but sadly I didn't. Suffice to say it was quite a lot! 

Tracy Willis6 Comments