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Doing A Hockney

Extract from Photocrafty • By Sue Venables • Published by Punk Publishing


$ $ $ $ $
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50 mins

David Hockney is the Granddaddy of Pop Art, and one of the most infl uential artists of the 20th century; he’s best known for his paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools in the sixties. But you don’t have to be a dab-hand with a paintbrush to complete this project, because Hockney is also pretty nifty with a
camera. He is a huge fan of collages, whether they’re made from different paintings, such as his ‘A Bigger Grand Canyon’ (1998) – a single work constructed from 60 separate canvases – or a single mosaic made from a montage of photographs.

Hockney calls his photo collages ‘joiners’. He discovered the technique when he was photographing the interior of a house and took lots of separate shots as a visual reference for a painting. When he got back to his studio he stuck all the images together and rather liked the effect it created and, since then, he
has gone on to produce many joiners.

Creating your own joiner is a super-simple project, but the effects can be really mesmerising. You’re not just capturing a moment in time, but several. As time elapses, it brings with it its own narrative: people passing through the frame, clouds moving, light changing and all sorts of other, subtler, alterations to a scene.

Posted by Punk Publishing Published See Punk Publishing's 3 projects » © 2023 Sue Venables / Punk Publishing · Reproduced with permission. · Photocrafty is published by Punk Publishing, available at
  • Step 1

    Head off in search of an interesting location* with
    your camera. Although this technique will add a layer
    of visual intrigue, it will not be enough in itself to
    make a great stand-alone image; so aim to photograph
    something that you love or a scene that really interests
    you – that way you won’t tire of looking at the
    final results. The photo collage also works best with
    large-scale subject matter: think epic landscapes or
    cityscapes – views that aren’t easily contained
    within a single shot.

  • Step 2

    Firstly, take a wide-angle shot of your chosen location.
    This will act as a handy reference (like the image on
    the lid of a jigsaw puzzle) when you’re trying to piece
    all the smaller images together later on.

  • Step 3

    Once you have the wide-angle shot, it’s time to zoom
    in slightly to capture small sections of your scene. It’s
    best to set your camera to auto and keep your feet
    firmly planted in the same position. You don’t need
    to use a tripod unless the lighting is poor enough to
    require ultra-steady shots.

  • Step 4

    Try to imagine a grid in front of the landscape before
    you, and then systematically snap away at each
    ‘square’ so that every part of the landscape is covered.

  • Step 5

    Make sure that each shot overlaps with the previous
    one, both vertically and horizontally: you don’t want
    any gaps when it comes to joining the images together.

    Remember: it’s better to take plenty more pictures
    than you need as opposed to too few.

  • How to make a collages. Doing A Hockney - Step 6
    Step 6

    When you’ve taken all your images, print them on
    photographic or plain paper or take a trip to a quality
    photo lab. (Mr Hockney has his printed at a photo lab,
    in case you were wondering.)

  • How to make a collages. Doing A Hockney - Step 7
    Step 7

    Then, using your wide-angle shot as a reference photo, get ready to start glueing the images to backing card. Always double check that the images really do go together beforehand, though: you don’t want to come unstuck! I find it easier to stick the images to one another rather than straight onto the backing card as, that way, you have the choice of putting each image either in front or behind the previous one – depending on what you think looks better.

  • How to make a collages. Doing A Hockney - Step 8
    Step 8

    Once your visual puzzle is complete, and stuck on the backing card, you’re ready to display it. Hockney frames his and hangs them in the world’s best galleries or sells them for a fortune – so you could try doing that too!

    *Of course, you could make a digital collage out of the images already on your computer, but it wouldn’t be as much fun and, besides, it isn’t the way the great man himself does things!

    You could also apply this technique to capture 360-degree panoramic views.

    I photographed the tower block from the corner to give the image a sense of depth, as the viewer’s eye is led to explore both the front and the side of the building. This wouldn’t have been possible if I’d photographed the building face-on. I like the pristine whiteness of the tower blocks juxtaposed against the solid blue sky.

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