composited portrait of aiden for karen alsops heart project

Giving Back to Karen Alsop’s Heart Project

Do you ever find yourself wishing you could use your Awesome talent for something good? For something that mattered? Something that wasn’t about you?

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to give back in some way.

Thanks to Karen Alsop’s heART Project, and her gracious request for me to create a Composited Portrait, I had the opportunity to give back a little this Holiday Season.

Now, let’s crack open some eggnog and get this.

What is the heART Project?

The heART Project is a collaboration between the Amazing Composite Photographer Karen Alsop and a group of volunteer photographers from around the world.

According to the heART Project website, the main purpose is to spread love to families who have experienced hardship through financial constraints and challenging scenarios that can come up in daily life.

Of course, there is WAAYYY more to this project than this simple explanation, so I encourage you to check out The heART Project website and get involved.

A Portrait that’s Different

When I was approached by Karen to get involved with The heART Project, I instantly said YES without knowing what I was getting in to.

You see, I had 4 family portraits I needed to wrap up, Holiday cards to design and order for clients, podcasts to record, and a whole lot of other stuff that needed to get done.

So, it wasn’t as simple as a 15 or 20-minute edit.

photo composite of aiden for the heart project by photillustrator

Sure, Karen did provide background scenes we could use, or she said we could create anything we wanted.

Which option do you think I chose?

Now, Karen forwards me the image of Aiden, a super cute little dude fighting Leukemia, and I have NO idea what to do for him.

aiden from the heart project

As you can see, nothing about the photo I received really spoke to Christmas, making it challenging to put Aiden in a “Christmasy” type of scene.

On top of the fact that I’m not really a fairy tale / Christmasy type of Composite Photographer to start with.

Drawing inspiration from Aiden’s shirt with a dinosaur on it, I created this super rough Concept Sketch.

concept sketch for composite photography by photillustrator

Okay! Clearly, this is a pretty horrible sketch, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a sketch artist. LOL

Norman Rockwell’s illustration instructor once told him, “Step over the frame and live in the picture.”

So, for this Composite I imagined Aiden opening up his dinosaur Christmas gift, which comes to life and transports him to another world.

A world that can only be created by Composite Photography.

Breaking Down Aiden’s Portrait

As I was building this Composite and creating Aiden’s alternate reality, I faced a real problem.

It wasn’t looking very Christmasy.

not so christmasy christmas portrait of aiden

Even with the opened present and bow on the ground, the whole scene just didn’t give me that warm fuzzy Christmas feeling.

That’s when I decided to add the Christmas lights around the dinosaur and wrapping around Aiden, which I think pulls them together quite nicely.

Here’s the full breakdown of all the photos I used.

breaking down composite photography portrait of aiden

1. Aiden
2. Dinosaur
3. Flooring
4. Concrete
5. Concrete Chunks #1
6. Concrete Chunks #2
7. Baby Dinosaur
8. Dinosaur Box
9. Present
10. Presents
11. Wrapping Paper
12. Bow
13. Christmas Ornament
14. Christmas Lights #1

15. Christmas Lights #2
16. Christmas Lights #3
17. Christmas Lights #4
18. Dirt Ground
19. Foreground Plant #1
20. Foreground Plant #2
21. Stone Wall #1
22. Stone Wall #2
23. Vines #1
24. Vines #2
25. Large Spider
26. Large Bug
27. Tree Line #1
28. Tree Line #2

29. Tree & Vines
30. Tree Branch
31. Tree
32. Pond Background
33. Tree Line
34. Mountains
35. Volcano
36. Moon
37. Sky
38. Cloud #1
39. Cloud #2
40. Cloud #3
41. Volcano Fire
42. Lava

The Originals

Every time I start a Composite project that’s supposed to be simple, it quickly takes a complex turn.

I might as well give up on the idea that I can create a simple Composite.

To give you a better idea of what went into this Composite Portrait of Aiden, here are some of the original photos I used.

How cool is it to be able to transport someone to an alternate reality?

Well, maybe not “reality”, but to a visually different place.

toy dinosaur used for composite photography portrait

small toy dinosaur used for photo composite

torn wrapping paper

tree line used for composite photography

ground used for photo composite

Happy Holidays!

At the end of the day, this Composited Portrait took me two solid days of computer time, along with some photography, to create.

Do you think Aiden’s Portrait meets the Christmas theme challenge?

Leave a comment below and share how you’re using your talent to make the world a better place.

Comments (4)

Incredible job! And thank you for sharing all the detail. You are very talented. I bet Aiden and his parents are thrilled.

Thanks so much Beth… That’s the hardest part for me. Not knowing what Aiden thought of his portrait.

What an amazing result for amazing cause! Aiden must have loved this image. Good on you for jumping in no questions asked. Thanks also for sharing your thought process on how you created such a lovely unique portrait. You are a truly talented artist, Jason.

I love creating my images just for the sake of creating and without the constraints of money.

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