Reflections: Surreal photography

I’ve been really enjoying nature photography recently and it lends itself beautifully to the super vibrant colours and close-up impact that I love, but it’s still based around finding a beautiful thing and capturing an image of it in situ. I don’t think I’ll ever lose my passion for creating photographs from the ground up or consciously altering how something is viewed using physical materials. While I’m not going to stop taking pictures of gorgeous flowers any time soon, I definitely needed to get back to my photographic roots a little bit.

Self-portrait in blue, with mirrors and lenses. Conceptual portrait photography by Tanya Simone Simpson. #portraitphotography #conceptualportrait

Ways in which I am not seen

I used to take photos of people a lot. It made up about 90% of the work I did as a professional photographer. For recreational photography, I often shot self-portraits simply because when I had an idea and needed a human face or body to make it happen, my own were convenient and immediately available. Over the last few years, I haven’t shot as many self-portraits. There’s no particular reason for that. I’ve just been pointing my camera at different things.

I wanted to shoot a self-portrait with a surreal edge, a picture of me that was not a straight-up photographic representation of my face. Probably the most noticeable thing about me at the moment is my bright blue hair, so I went with that as the prominent colour. I love how different mirrors can affect how things appear and I have a bit of a thing for reflections within reflections, so I used three mirrors to create a sense of repetition. And of course, my camera is in there. It’s such a huge part of my creative existence and having it in the photo with me felt right.

In layers of light and colour. This single image (shot through glass with a visible reflection) was shot in RAW with Camera FV-5 and processed with Google Snapseed on an LG G6 mobile phone.

Layers of light and colour

Almost all the nature photos I’ve shot recently have been of things I’ve found in our garden. While I do love seeking out tiny, beautiful details, I also adore the view of the garden as an entire thing. When we moved in here a couple of years ago, I never imagined it would look the way it looks now, but my husband is amazing at designing and crafting outdoor spaces.

The photo above is one photograph, not a double exposure or a digital overlay, also making use of reflections to create a surreal image. I was sitting on the back step, drinking tea and having a little moment of gratitude on a sunny day, when I noticed how the reflection of one side of the garden in the open glass door layered over the view of the other side of the garden through the glass. I wasn’t sure how it would translate into a flat image but with careful angling of the door and focusing with my phone camera (this was the first image I shot in RAW on my new phone!), it worked.

I hope you all have a creative and inspirational weekend

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