Photographing a creative reality

Updated 2:10 PM ET, Tue September 18, 2012
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Chris Clor's dramatic photograph of this bull rider won the Communication Arts Photography Competition. Combining separate shots of the bull, the rider, Superstition Mountains and the sky, he knitted them together in Photoshop. Although it was shot for a client selling boots, the image represents a possible reality because of Clor's composition. Courtesy Chris Clor
Don Farrall's image was also a winning entry in the competition. "These 'Sound Sculptures' exist for a fraction of a second; they are created as paint is propelled by sound waves," he said. "Variations in the viscosity and the pattern of the paint, along with variations in the frequencies used to put the paint in motion, produce unique images that exhibit a natural balance." Courtesy Don Farrall/Getty Images
Photographer Mike Mellia uses lighting to make his images dynamic, almost evoking a movie set with their tone. This photo, from his Action Hero series, examines how we look at heroes in movies as children, versus our view of them as we age. Courtesy Mike Mellia
In his "Monday Morning: Wall Street & America" series, Mellia created an entire ecosystem that explores the neverending cycle of finance and economy. He used models and scenes with exaggerated facial expressions and actions to make a statement in his series. Courtesy Mike Mellia
To achieve harsh shadows and a Hitchcock feel, Mellia put a bright spotlight on his subjects, plunging the background into harsh shadows. Representing the consumer in his "Wall Street" series, Mellia used 400-600 pound models. Courtesy Mike Mellia
Mellia focuses largely on emotion in his photos, like this image from his Psychological Portrait series. He believes it is at the heart of what fine art photography is all about. His focus on lighting also allows the subjects to pop off the page in a 3-D way. Courtesy Mike Mellia
Mellia tries to avoid any normal devices of photography that make his images resemble photos. For example, in this "Wall Street" scene, every detail is incredibly sharp, rather than blurring into the background. Courtesy Mike Mellia
To Bryan Peterson, the camera is a blank canvas. For 30 years, he has traveled the world creating images. He takes inspiration from walking around locations and making observations about what makes them unique. Then, Peterson turns the observations into concepts he pursues in the moment or plans over time with models and locations. Courtesy Bryan Peterson
Peterson is fond of including a focal point that stands out from its surroundings, like a red ball in a pool of cool blue water or this black cat amid a palette of purple and yellow. Courtesy Bryan Peterson
By placing a red light source in this mailbox, Peterson transformed what would have been a normal street scene into a menacing mystery and storytelling image. Courtesy Bryan Peterson
The literal contrast between white and black, and the size of the two people against two trees, allowed Peterson to play with depth of field and composition. Courtesy Bryan Peterson
By illuminating one henna-covered hand, Peterson created a layered image with scene-setting elements and a dynamic atteniton to detail. Courtesy Bryan Peterson
Matthew Brandt takes the idea of an "organic" experience with his photography to a new level by incoporating his subject material into the development process. This photo of Big Bear Lake was also soaked in the lake water. Courtest Matthew Brandt
Brandt began incoporating subject matter material in his photos because he felt it brought an objectivity to his work. Soaked in lake water, this image, called "Mary's Lake," appears almost impressionistic. Courtesy Matthew Brandt
When photographing trees, Brandt has also used handmade paper using the wood from the park he's using as a location, like this silkscreen print of a tree in George Bush Park. Courtesy Matthew Brandt
Although an "organic" image of Sylvan Lake, Brandt's work is evocative of an abstract swing in fine art photography. Courtesy Matthew Brandt
Brandt didn't know how soaking prints in lake water, like this American Lake image, would come out, but his experiementation proved to swirl the colors in a magnificent way. Courtesy Matthew Brandt
Liz Darlington began her Constructs series by traveling the world with a couple of cheap, low-end film cameras collecting source material. These raw images were then combined digitally to create an impression of place and time rather than a factual document. Courtesy Liz Darlington
The resulting pictures in Darlington's Constructs challenge the supposedly objective nature of travel photography by embracing a more romantic but arguably more accurate representation of the lived experience, she said. Courtesy Liz Darlington
Darlington's photography is rooted in an interest in nostalgia. Her pictures explore the fragmentary, fictional nature of memory, and in so doing they undermine the documentary realism generally expected of photography. Courtesy Liz DArlington
In her Half-Remembered series, Darlington photographs places where people spend time together: the beach, the mountains, the countryside. Unlike the Constructs, these images represent a single moment in time and space. Courtesy Liz Darlington
Darlington said her Half-Remembered images recall both the longing we have to recreate the past - the family vacation, the weekend day trip, the childhood visit to the seaside -- and the disturbing tendency of contemporary reality to intrude upon our nostalgic fantasies. Courtesy Liz Darlington
David Allan Brandt cites finding his vision as one of the most important things that ever happened to him. After spending so much time as a commercial photographer, he became creatively bored. But rediscovering his vision in abstract portraiture transformed Brandt. Courtesy David Allan Brandt
Brandt also explored realism in his vision, like this portrait of a woman, Mayti, and her children. Courtesy David Allan Brandt
No matter what kind of image Brandt makes, he wants viewers to have the imaginary quality to ask how he created it. Courtesy David Allan Brandt