Erik Johansson Talks His “Impossible Photography” At TED

Erik Johansson is a renowned Photoshop artist, whose Escher like work is as astonishingly real as it is impossible. Frankly, he’s something of a gold standard when it comes to creating realistic-looking but completely unreal scenarios, and at a TED talk last year, he explained something of how he goes about making these famous scenes.

There are a number of really interesting things that pop up in the video. For one, his discussion of the planning and techniques he uses makes it seem like something far easier than it is. The amount of Photoshop work that must go in to seamlessly blending the photographs together is frankly astonishing, and something that he makes seem easy.

What’s also interesting is that Johansson views his work as photography, but takes a view on the artform that many professionals will doubtless disagree with. His idea that traditional photography ends with the shutter snap, and that it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that “anyone can do that” will doubtless raise some ire from many of our readers. Taking it even further, I’d say there’s an argument that what he does isn’t, strictly speaking, photography. While taking photos is definitely a part of it, I’d suggest the artfulness is more in the planning and blending stages, making him more akin to a digital or collage artist than anything else. I’m not trying to minimize his skill behind the lens — which is incredible, as evidenced by how perfectly his photos match — but I think the real magic happens at a computer.