Using her photography and photo manipulation skills, photographer Karen Alsop created her version of a time travel. When her mother found a photo of Karen’s Great Great Great Grandmother and Great Great Grandmother, it made Karen wonder: what it would be like to meet her ancestors, sit down and talk to them? Even more, how incredible it would be for her kids to meet them? And so, the idea was born.
She had a photo shoot with her two children and photoshopped them into the photo her mom had found, which dates back to the early 1900’s. The final result is incredible, and when she shared it on Facebook, most of her family and friends thought that the kids are the relatives who only resemble her children.
Karen has kindly shared the details about the entire process with us. From the photo shoot to compositing and colorizing the final image, even some BTS shots. It was a long and demanding task, but it was well worth the result.
Mum found this old photo from the early 1900s of our relatives. The older lady sitting down is my Great Great Great Grandmother!
For starters, it was necessary to carefully examine the original portrait, so she could plan the photo shoot with the children. As Karen points out, it’s an essential step for creating a convincing composite.
Another important element of a convincing final result is using right props and costumes. Karen sourced the ideas online and visited a thrift store to find the props and clothes that look like they’re from the same era.
Right before the shoot, it was necessary to examine the light and perspective of the original shot. If this wasn’t done, the result wouldn’t be convincing and the composite would look odd.
What’s also important is choosing the right medium. Karen admits she skipped this step and photographed her children with a high-end camera. The resulting tack sharp images would be great for today’s standards – but they didn’t fit the old photo. She says she spent a lot of time “destroying” the image and turning it into a slightly blurred, grainy and worn photo.
When it comes to the shoot itself, there were two important things to pay attention to. First, the facial expressions. People in old photos usually have that specific, kind of blank expression. So, it was important (and fairly difficult) to have the kids pull it off as well. The final image shows they made it, but there were plenty of silly faces and fake smiles before that, as Karen says on her blog.
Another important part is positioning the subjects so they match the original photo. Karen stood in for the ladies in the old photo, and in the final result, her hands are in the photo to look like they belong to the ancestors.
Finally, it was time for the editing process. Karen shared a speed editing video on her YouTube channel. When she does it and speeds in up, she makes it seem easy. But in reality, as you can imagine, it takes quite an amount of time to get it done.
After the editing, this is the final result. You can check out the photo before and after, as well as the black and white and the colorized version of the final image:
We have featured Karen on DIYP before, and she is known for her amazing composites, often created for a noble cause. Again, she has made a masterful digital art, and it works on several levels.
First of all, these old photos always cause nostalgic feeling. Just like Karen herself says, they made her think what it would be like to meet her ancestors. As it’s not possible to go back in time, she found a way to have her children meet their Great Great Great Grandmother and Great Great Great Great Grandmother through something else but stories. I believe it’s a beautiful way of connecting the past with the present, and getting children closer to their roots. And finally, on the fun side, I’m sure it was amusing to post the image online and see how family and friends react to the photo.
About the Artist
Karen Alsop is an award winning Australian, Melbourne-based photographic digital artist and educator. Expanding on two decades of photographic and graphic design experience, Karen brings photography and art together to create stunning artworks that tell a story and take the viewer into another world. You can see more of Karen’s work on her website, portfolio, and 500px. And you can also find her on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.