The Alchemist: The conceptual composite photography of Colin Anderson
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The Alchemist: The conceptual composite photography of Colin Anderson

Snow Princess - 2013 by Colin Anderson

Born in Canada but based in Australia, Colin Anderson is re-defining what it means to be a modern photographer. As as early adopter of Photoshop, Anderson first began in art and design by studying at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology before working as a creative director. This has given him insight into the desires of his many clients, especially useful as the images that he creates are born from concepts needed to fill the commercial requirements of an art director or advertising campaign. The photographer will piece together complex allegorical stills from a number of visual elements, captured with high resolution medium format cameras and highly specific lighting setups. Then, he puzzles them together into multi-layered composites.

'Adding to my elements library is an ongoing process,' Anderson says, 'If l'm finding we are lacking in a certain category then we will make an effort to schedule element shoots or even make travel plans to get them. This is a crucial part of our production schedule.' As a Mamiya and Leaf shooter, his typical workflows will start by tethering a live shoot through the Capture One software to experiment with composition and lighting before fitting components into the final composition through the use of Adobe's suite of programs like Photoshop, Bridge and Illustrator. He also adds elaborate backgrounds and special effects that he often builds from scratch using software like Maxon's Cinema4D.

Anderson is not shy about sharing the processes behind his work, either. He has posted several tutorials that showcase exactly how much effort goes into each and every single image. On his website there are a number of concept-versus-final-image comparisons that give a brief but fascinating visual breakdown of the genesis and final completion of a project. His project, 'Ancient Hawaii', for example, took an entire year of preparation and casting before spending another six weeks of principle shooting in addition to another six months of intense image editing to bring the series together. 'My only interest is translating a message,' he has said. 'How I get there is totally irrelevant.'

Find out more about him by clicking through the slideshow and accompanying Q+A. For more imagery, visit his website, www.andersonproductions.com.au. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.