Can you alter photographs?

(Ohio, United States of America)

Is there such a thing as altered art for photographs? I have been visiting different blogs, and have seen the most amazing photographs that look as if they could come to life, such as a vintage photograph of a child with fairy wings that look as though they are coming out of the picture. I have searched all over for instructions for beginners on how to do this amazing process. I hope that you can help me.

Altered photographs are indeed a recognised form of altered art, of which the sort of images that you describe are one example. Equally, winged human figures are a very common theme in both this and the closely-related field of artist trading cards. You will often see images of children with fairy wings, butterfly wings, dragonfly wings, and perhaps to a lesser extent feathered wings, like angels.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you say that the wings look as though they are coming out of the photograph, but would presume that there's some kind of perspective effect involved, rather than the more common flat appearance.

There are probably two distinct but similar methods used in the altered art world to produce this kind of image.

The first is good old-fashioned collage, where photographs and other images are cut up and stuck down on a backing in combination with each other. This, though common, and artistically satisfactory, is unlikely to produce images of the sophistication that you seem to be describing, if only because it's rare to find sources for images of wings at exactly the right angle.

A more modern method is known as digital collage. Exactly the same principle is applied to scanned photographs and other images using a graphics editor on a computer, and in the hands of a skilled practitioner some truly remarkable results can be achieved.

Most graphics editing programs with any degree of sophistication are likely to offer tools that could be used to produce the perspective effect that I referred to above.

There are a number of different graphics programs available. I use Paint Shop Pro to produce the graphics on this website, and in some cases have used a form of digital collage, but I certainly wouldn't lay claim to the level of skill necessary to create some of these truly beautiful images. However, it's only by actually trying these things that we learn, and I feel that I'm still on the journey from beginner to expert myself.

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