Ever wake up from a dream and after coming back to consciousness, think to yourself, “I wish that were real?” Recently, Vancouver photographer Andrey Popov brought those delightful little fantasies we have while sleeping to life for a personal project that he calls “Dreams.”
The project features a series of colorful, surrealistic composite images that Andrey created using his friend’s daughter as the subject. With a little imagination and trial and error in post, Andrey was able to feed his inspiration and create images that make me envy the little girl who gets to live in those fantasy worlds.
The project got its start from an idea that Andrey had to create a picture of a girl running down a pier (check out the final image above). Andrey conceptualized the image while looking at a background plate he had just created—a landscape shot of Lake Tahoe under the stars.
It was late at night, and I remember looking at [the picture] and thinking how far I’d come, and how I chased some dreams people around me didn’t believe in, or just thought how irrational my behavior was. I thought that the picture really had that appropriate mood for those reflections, I just needed the final element to transform a simple landscape shot into a picture that means something to me. And so the first picture was born, and while it is the simplest of all, it means more to me to than any other [image] because of what it represents. After it was received well, I thought I would keep creating more pictures.
Like with any composite image, Andrey’s first step was to create background plates before shooting the talent, since the plate would dictate the lighting and perspective. Casting was easy—he posted a casting call for the first shoot on his Facebook, and a fellow Vancouver photographer kindly volunteered her daughter, Miki. Andrey said Miki was so easy to work with that he decided to use her for each image in the series, as well.
After coming up with the concepts, the main challenge for Andrey was the amount of retouching that went into each image.
There were a lot of “firsts” for me when retouching these—there was a lot of trial and error. I wanted to finish the series with the bang, and the concept of the enchanted forest with mushrooms was in my head for nine months. I created few different background plates that I wasn’t happy with, and then finally I decided to reach out for help so I teamed up with João Marcos Britto, a creative retoucher from Rio, to help me to take this to another level.
Creating the images was a learning experience for Andrey—the project was a challenge and a way to create the type of work that he would like to be hired for by clients.
This series taught me more than any other project I’ve worked on. I actually learned CGI for this project. I ended up not doing any for the series, but I did utilize it for another personal project. Plus, it’s coming in handy for the client job I’m working on right now. Going into the full list [of what I learned] here would be akin to writing a book on shooting and retouching, but the two most important things I learned are: 1. If you can imagine it, you can create it. I mean, I knew that in theory, but it’s one thing to know something in theory, and another to believe it. 2. It actually taught me about the importance of the personal work. In the last few months I got asked to bid on several projects based on one or two of the images from this series. Art buyers actually made a point of mentioning that. I got awarded couple of the projects.
Check out more of Andrey’s work on his website, andreyapopov.com.