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Photographing Your Alter Ego

Updated on February 19, 2014

Myself and I should evoke many questions once you start reading. It should also lead you to start realizing that this particular photographic project will in some way involve at least a person since we are all probably familiar with the term alter ego.

"An alter ego (Latin, "the other I") is a second self, which is believed to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. The term was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists. A person with an alter ego is said to lead a double life.

A distinct meaning for alter ego can be found in literary analysis, wherein it describes characters in different works who are psychologically similar, or a fictional character whose behavior, speech or thoughts intentionally represent those of the author. Similarly, alter ego can be applied to the role or persona taken on by an actor or by other types of performers."

Simply put, the project will take the photographing of one subject at a time in two different poses; one as your subject is normally and another as "the alter ego self", and yes, you will need to use Photoshop or any of the many digital editing software programs now available.

With the aid of any software program you will make two images into one main one and the idea is to make it appear as if your subject's "twin" is next to his/hers. In other words, you will put one image of your subject and then put another image of the same subject next to the first one. Follow this link for a video explaining how to do this with Photoshop. This is sometimes referred to as compositing as it is really not that difficult to accomplish.

Once you have decided what your subject's alter ego will look like then it's time to record the first image and compose the second picture featuring this other "self". The best variation is achieved when one subject seems to be directly facing the other.

Among the things that you need to consider are the props, if any, that you will use and how your subject's alter ego is represented in the images. These images should be radically different or risk just showing a plain "you and your twin" scenario.

A clear "image" must be available for an audience as to what is your subject's other self; what does it represent or stand for. Consider using a makeup artist and some radically different clothing styles as well as body art, jewelry, and hair.

It is always a good idea to have an assistant that pays attention to how your subject is posed in the first photo and how to pose for the second. This is not as crucial if both of "them" will not be directly facing each other but it is always helpful to have an extra pair of eyes evaluating the scene.

Remember to keep the lighting and general scene the same for both shots; furniture, smaller props such as glasses, or other items which may be overlooked in the second shot as well as your position when taking the first and second shot.

Taking a quick digital image of the set up always helps to keep things in perspective and when re-positioning your subject.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

These images can be used for a book about photographic techniques, for photo stock houses and for general photographic publications.

There may be other uses however not that many that are commercially viable. It may be wise to treat the shoot as a leaning exercise or just done for pure fun.

With that said, if your shots are exceptionally pleasing and well composed, then there are several commercial venues that you can approach with them, including many of the poster publications, greeting card companies, fine art galleries and others.

A lot will be dependent of the level of creativity and artistry which you are able to summon and execute upon the scene and the subjects.

Off course you can also use other "self" representational characters such as comic book figures or the ever popular gaming characters.

But this is sorts of cheating since you only really take one image and then digitally add the other from a game and such and one is not actually a true photograph.

The trick is to take two photos and learn from the process of posing, arranging a scene, lighting, camera angles and careful attention to even the smallest details and so on and so forth.

This is much like the same as to what some production assistants do in Hollywood and they get paid quite well for just keeping an eye for details and being ever vigilant to the smallest of variations.

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© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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      stessily 5 years ago

      Luis, This is an intriguing presentation, thought-filled, well written, and nicely illustrated. Up + UABI + sharing.

      Kind regards, Stessily