How to Create an Eye Catching Montage

How to Create an Eye Catching Montage


Editor’s note: Due to technical issues we’ve lost the images on this article. Our sincerest apologies. For an updated version of this article try this one.

It’s no secret that I love to create montages. In my studio, I often edit a few special shots to create montages for my clients to help them see the ways their photos can be used other than just plain ole framing.

Putting photos together can create a strong sense of location, emotion and to make a bold statement. Your choices can make or break it so choose carefully the photos you use, the positions in which you place them and even the background content of your montage.

Here are a few photos (some are revisited from my previous posts) and my thoughts regarding why I put the particular photos together.

Zoom – I really love this technique in combining photos.

Whether you’re deciding on the layout of facing pages in an album or creating a montage, the effect of zoom is really pleasing for the eye.

It’s the idea that in the first photo, you’re seeing things from far and the photo immediately zooms in on the next frame.

For me, it creates quite a nice emotional quality whereby I feel like I’m really sucked into the images.

Slice & Dice – A photo made up of two frames is also called a diptych.

There, I said it so don’t any one get cross with me for referring to these as montages! In this montage, I am using one image which has been cut in half.

It’s quite a quirky one, especially because I put the bottom half first (look at that drool!) On the right side, notice that her eyes are looking over at her smile. This brings in to play the next tip.

Looking In – I know some rules are made to be broken but I can’t think of a time that breaking this rule would ever be good.

Always have your subjects facing in. In this montage, I have the baby looking at herself from 4 corners, always facing in. I had to use Photoshop’s ‘flip horizontal’ function on a couple of them so they were all facing in.

On that note, flipping a photo horizontal can feel quite awkard – I never get used to that strange feeling after flipping a photo. I do one of two things. I either close my eyes while it makes the change and try to forget what it looked like before or I take a break for a few minutes and come back to the photo. That usually makes it easier.

Unrelated – I sometimes like to use objects or photos which weren’t from the shoot in a montage.

I thought these two complimented each other beautifully, although I had to get tricky with Photoshop to bring the colours of the flower and the headband closer together.

Tell a Story – Combining images gives the wonderful opportunity to tell a story. This photo (below) by photographer Kelly West Mars is so awesome to me because it…well…just tells a story!

If a picture paints a thousand words, imagine the tales you can tell when you combine more than one!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

Some Older Comments

  • Bob Simmons February 27, 2013 12:32 am

    Sample photos are missing.

  • Jo Fletcher February 22, 2013 06:57 am

    Links are missing in Firefox too.
    Interesting article - maybe having to use my imagination will have re-inforced the ideas???

  • John November 30, 2012 10:51 am

    Looks like it could be good advice but all the links to your images are broken at least on Chrome

  • Mei Teng April 2, 2010 10:55 am

    Thanks for sharing. I love the idea of creating a story with two images side by side.

  • corina April 2, 2010 07:32 am

    In a way, I think Brian has a valid point.. the article title indicates some instruction of some sort will be included.... however, Elizabeth did offer some creative ways to use photos in a montage / collage format, which can be useful.
    But...I didn't appreciate the sarcasm from Elizabeth, either. If you're gonna write for others, expect some criticism, learn how to look at it objectively and learn from it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, which is why there's a 'comment' section...not a 'cheering' section.
    Either way, perhaps taking one of the five formats listed above and writing instructions on "how-to", if PS or another editing tool was used or how to take the shot (DOF, lighting, etc), would make more sense to someone who is looking for more instruction.

  • Kudos September 29, 2009 09:06 am

    Reiterating some of my fellow commentators, my favourite part of this article is your description of the eerie feeling one can get from flipping an image, especially of a person. That being said, I think the result can be quite artistic and necessary at times. If you didn't flip the image, you might not have been able to create the photo you did. Plus, in this day and age, viewers don't spend as much time looking at any single photo. This gives the photographer a little more leeway. Those that do examine the photo more thoroughly often recognize that photographers sometimes have to make sacrifices -- technological/artistic licence if you will. I also like the idea of coming back to the image after some time. (Caveat: I wouldn't be as casual in flipping a photo of a subject with a distinctly asymmetrical visage.)

  • Elizabeth Halford September 25, 2009 06:06 pm

    Hi Brian thank you so much I'm glad you like my work. Apologies for not including step by step instructions for CS4 users. Perhaps I was wrong in assuming that a CS4 user knows about copy/paste. Ctrl C for copy, Ctrl V for paste. Also, CS4 is quite top of the line in terms of technology as it allows users to drag photos around. I suppose that's why it costs £800. Hope that helps? Thanks for reading!

  • Darren Rowse September 25, 2009 03:40 pm

    Brian - you're more than welcome to submit something if you feel you can do a better job.

  • Brian September 25, 2009 02:07 pm

    Hi, this is completely useless. It just show-boating what you have done!

    The article is called "How to Create an Eye Catching Montage" ????? What the .....!
    NOT Once do you explain HOW TO CREATE ... Anything!! Your just show-boating and gloating what you've done! big-deal

    Why doesn't anybody explain HOW TO CREATE these in photoshop CS4 or similar application!? Huhh!

    Waste of time ... BOOO! :(

  • Alan Nielsen September 25, 2009 03:36 am

    Great article. Too often I find myself just putting images on a page. Now when I build my photobooks for my clients, I do try and slice/dice or rotate the images to make them really "pop".

  • Elizabeth Halford September 21, 2009 02:28 pm

    Oh yes good question - how? I've talked about Picasa before and how I love it for beginners and in the past, they had a cool collage function. Perhaps now they have a montage one? In Photoshop, I just create a new blank images (file ---> new). Make it huge you can crop it later. To colour in the background, add a fill layer (layers ---> add new ---> fill layer) and then you can choose the colour you use or make it white and colour it in with the paint bucket. If I'm using a colour other than white or black, I like to choose exact colours from within my photo by clicking the colour swatch on the bottom left of the toold pallette and then with your pointer over your photo, you hold down the alt key and click on a colour in your photo and it chooses it for you to use to fill in the background. Then You drag and drop your photos and when you're finished, you can crop around your montage to get rid of extra around the edges.

  • FriedChicken September 21, 2009 01:51 pm

    I actually don't agree with flipping an image, especially of people.

    Why does it look weird? Because of course it's a mirror image of a person. A photo takes the real image, not just a mirror look.

    You should never flip something which can be recognised (words, a famous landmark, identifiable objects, people, etc).

  • paige September 21, 2009 01:33 pm has a free "mosaic" tool you can use to make these, it's easiest if you're already on flickr, connect the two and click the ones you want to add. Easy peasy! I made one BEFORE looking at this tute, it's on my blog

  • Life with Kaishon September 21, 2009 04:44 am

    Wow. I want to do this right away! I love this site! So glad I stopped over today : ) Thank you for all of these AWESOME posts!

  • Franky September 20, 2009 04:54 am

    A very good article... I will try the slice & dice for sure!!

  • sara September 19, 2009 11:53 pm

    How to you create a mantage to start with.
    I have PS3. Can someone tell me or link me to a tutorial somewere please

  • hfng September 19, 2009 06:23 pm

    Check out my samples!

    Sample 1

    Sample 2

    Sample 3

  • Michelle September 19, 2009 12:52 pm

    I did two 16x20 in. posters, one for each of my daughters...Kind of along the same lines. I did not flip the one image of my daughter on the beach, never occurred to me. Next time I will be more careful to make sure they all face in.
    Great article.

  • Val September 19, 2009 12:15 pm

    Great Ideas.
    However, I'm a novice.
    How does one 'merge' photos together to create the Montage?
    What software can I use on my PC?
    Must I purchase some expensive program such as Photoshop CS?
    Maybe I already have the software with my Windows machine, yes?
    Thank you for you help.

  • Gary September 19, 2009 09:22 am

    And I thought it was just me that got that weird thing after flipping an image! It never seems to look right after!

  • andreas September 19, 2009 08:21 am

    the thing about flipping horizontal, freaks me out too. it's totally weird to do so

  • Robert September 19, 2009 04:59 am

    I recently did one of these of my son.

  • Deirdre September 19, 2009 04:18 am

    This is a timely article for me. I just created my first few diptychs recently, to save space on posting them somewhere. I was surprised to discover their storytelling qualities, and how sometimes a combination of two photos can look better or worse than the original photos on theiir own. It's a whole new world! I've also been enjoying the Flickr Diptych group:

  • nathan September 19, 2009 04:15 am

    Haha... I'm with you guys with the "flipping horizontal" stuff... I'm gonna try closing my eyes next time. ;)

  • hfng September 19, 2009 01:18 am

    I love this article! Thanks for the wonderful tips. You're spot on regarding the "flipping horizontal" feeling! Totally flips me out lol. I got a bit disturbed about the slice and dice though looks a bit cruel :D