John Dykstra Creates Surreal Photos Without Using Photoshop

Photographer John Dykstra believes in the effectiveness of point of view. In his work, he makes use of practical effects to touch on how our viewpoint on life impacts some of our perception, affecting the lives we lead.

Staying away from significant post-processing techniques, Dykstra constructs his images by meticulously designed sets. He utilizes drawing, painting, and stage design into his pictures to create confusing visuals into his photographs.

Here’s his account of how his first anamorphic illusion (shown above) came about:

“My first idea came to me when I thought about how our perspective can trap us, and how so many of our boundaries in life are self-imposed and illusionary. Combining that thought with anamorphic illusions lead me to the idea for “Penalty Box,” a self-portrait that depicts me as drawing the illusion of a box around myself in chalk. At first I tried drawing the illusion on paper, but that didn’t work at all. Then I remembered the work of John Chervinsky, who I discovered a month earlier just after his passing. He was using chalk on chalkboard to create these very interesting photographs, and I knew I had found the solution to creating my piece. I quickly built a small 8’ x 8’ x 4’ plywood stage in my parents’ garage—God bless them for letting me use that space—covered it with a pint of chalkboard paint, set up my camera, and then the magic happened.”

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