Photo Joiners

We were asked by Ray to create a form of photo collage in the style of David Hockney, the artist who is renowned for creating what he calls ‘photo joiners’, a series of images manually or digitally stitched together to create a collage effect showing one scene fomr multiple perspectives and focuses.

David Hockney

David Hockney, is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. An important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.

In the early 1980s, Hockney began to produce photo collages, which he called “joiners”, first using Polaroid prints and subsequently 35mm, commercially processed colour prints. Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney’s major aims was discussing the way human vision works. 

Creation of the “joiners” occurred accidentally. He noticed in the late sixties that photographers were using cameras with wide-angle lenses. He did not like these photographs because they looked somewhat distorted. While working on a painting of a living room and terrace in Los Angeles, he took Polaroid shots of the living room and glued them together, not intending for them to be a composition on their own. On looking at the final composition, he realised it created a narrative, as if the viewer moved through the room. He began to work more with photography after this discovery and stopped painting for a while to exclusively pursue this new technique.

I was very keen to begin this task as I admire Hockney’s work. I have never been overly interested in photography but the manner in which he has combined art and photography so simply is intriguing. The strange combination of a variety of events and movements in a single static image makes for a piece that has complexity and depth which would be impossible to capture even with a long exposure shot.

Me and my pier, Angharad, worked together for this task. We decided to capture the road running through the university campus, reasoning that the level of activity there with cars and students passing constantly would lead to a dynamic image filled with life and movement.


Once we had all our images together we began to stitch them together using Adobe Photoshop. I was forced to act as an unwilling model as a centrepiece to the scene. The theme of our piece being a journey. We decided the zebra crossing would be a good place to work with as the lines could be jostled around to enhance the abstract quality to reflect that of Hockney’s own work.

We made a conscious effort to include as many passers by from different times to fill the image with life and dynamism. Emphasis was given to flow in some areas such as the yellow parking lines to keep the image cohesive and discernible. This had the effect of distorting the size of areas of the buildings and some passers by.which although an unintended consequence, gave a pleasing effect.

Angharad’s adaption

Angharad later took it upon herself to make changes to the piece. We agreed that her adaption gave the image more sense of travel which was our theme so we decided to use this image.

Bae RoAD old version.jpg
First Edit

Once we had our images stitched sufficiently we decided to add further depth to the image by adding new layers at low opacity and providing a low saturation border. We asked Ray to review our progress and he had many positive things to say about it but suggested we change the saturation somewhat.

Final Piece

We were both pleased with the final outcome of our ‘joiner’. The image is clear and self explanatory. But contains far more depth than any individual photograph. It is dynamic and filled with detail. I feel that leaving the yellow parking lines as true to reality as possible gives structure to the image while allowing it to maintain an abstract feel. I would be eager to give this task another go in the future as I feel it has a lot of potential as an artistic method.



Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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