Shape Collage: Automatic Photo Collage Maker

I had an email from Vincent Cheung telling me about this software he has created. He asked me to take a look, so I did. It’s really pretty neat, although admittedly I have only tried the online version so far; I think I’ll download the installable version later and give that a go.

I think I might as well let Vincent tell you in his own words:

Shape Collage can take hundreds of photos and, using a patent pending algorithm, automatically arrange them in a collage in any user-defined shape, such as a rectangle, heart, word, or logo. These collage images can be used in any digital setting, such as on blogs or as desktop wallpapers, or be printed for posters and scrapbook uses.

The Shape Collage desktop software makes creating collages effortless, but at the same time it is a very powerful program, as it has a number of advanced features, such as using custom shapes and being able to save collage images in Adobe Photoshop PSD file format with each photo in its own layer. The desktop software is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and has been downloaded over 750,000 times since February 2009.

Shape Collage Online ( is a web application that uses the Shape Collage technology to create unique collages using photos on the web. These collages also serve as an image browsing tool because the individual photos in the online collages can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Shape Collage Inc. was founded in 2009 by Vincent Cheung (who did his PhD in Computer Engineering and is an alumni of Google and Microsoft Research) to make it easy to share, display, organize, and browse large collections of digital media in creative ways.

Here is an example from Vincent’s website:

Philip Townsend: My Thirty Minutes in the Presence of Genius

Philip Townsend at the Photographers Lounge
Philip Townsend by Kate Cross

Words such as “awesome” and “genius” are, in my opinion, used a little too freely. So I have given much careful consideration before using the word “genius” to describe Philip Townsend. For the moment you are going to have to trust me on this, but I intend to back it up – the man is pure genius!

As a child of the Sixties and the youngest of four siblings, I recognize many of Philip’s images and recall the excitement they brought about; my sister going all dizzy over The Beatles; my elder brothers getting all rebellious and growing their hair like the Rolling Stones. Having been fortunate enough to be invited to the launch party of Philip’s new book “Sorry You Missed the Sixties” at the Photographers Lounge in Swanage, I relished the opportunity to study some of these original prints up close. I spent a lot of time (and money!) honing my own darkroom skills, but it still gives me the shivers to see the product of a true master.

Continue reading “Philip Townsend: My Thirty Minutes in the Presence of Genius”

Spotlight on: Piotr Stryjewski

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I was doing a little research into our local photographers and I found myself looking at the website of Piotr Stryjewski. I’m guessing he is not a Basingstoke native, judging by his name and his website; “Stryjewski” is not a typical Hampshire surname. Not that it matters, of course! I’d like to find out a little more about where he is from, what his influences were and how he came to be living and working in exotic Basingstoke!

To be honest, I can’t say I am excited by all of his photos, but what I really do like is the way his fashion work seems to spill over into his wedding photography. It gives it an edge and, in my humble opinion, really makes it stand out. Wedding photographs can be quite boring for anyone outside of those directly involved, so creating images which are interesting in their own right is an achievement.

Some investigation is required.

Spotlight on: Michael Tarasov

One of the best ever Internet inventions, for me at least, has to be StumbleUpon. Recently whilst using StumbleUpon, I have become aware of an increasing number of Russian photographers and photographic sites. Unfortunately, much of the content of the sites is fairly inaccessible to me (I don’t read Russian), but a lot of the images are monochrome which is of particular interest to me.

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Spotlight: Eric Ryan Anderson

Eric Ryan Anderson, New York based freelance photographer

I love it when you stumble over something or someone completely new. Eric is a freelance photographer currently based in New York, but born, raised and educated in Texas.

He is completely self taught and has been widely published. His work is gorgeous – please, take a look.

The Interview

Having been so thoroughly impressed with Eric’s work, I decided to see if I could find out a bit more and this is how it went…

TDM: How did you get started in photography?

ERIC: Always enjoyed photography as a kid, but put it on the back-burner during college to pursue more important things like girls and football games. Earned a business degree at Texas A&M, worked for several years in the corporate real estate world before my father gifted me with a camera on my 24th birthday, thus rediscovering the passion. That was 3 years ago, and that gift has led me to quit my job, leave my family & friends, move to NYC & jump into a world in which (in hindsight) I was so naive. I’ve been very fortunate to survive, and hopefully survival will lead to sustainment.

TDM: What was your first kit?

ERIC: Received one of those Kodak digi’s with 10X zoom about 4 years ago, and began shooting in/around downtown Dallas, where I lived at the time… that lead to a 20D, which led to a 5d, which led to the wide assortment I use today, including the Hasselblad 503cw, Polaroid 600SE, Holga & a handful of others.

TDM: Who inspired you? Who inspires you now?

ERIC: Working with Jeremy Cowart a couple years ago was a huge moment for me. It was the first time I saw the commercial photography world up close and personal, and realized that this can, indeed, be done for a living. Jeremy was super nice and has continued to answer my noob questions throughout the past two years. Other than that, I enjoy Frederic Lagrange, Jake Chessum, Nadav Kandar, Platon, Avedon and a host of younger peers… and am slightly obsessed with the work of Danny Clinch.

TDM: All those musicians on your website – I think I’ve maybe heard of one of them – are they famous in the US or friends or unsigned or what?

ERIC: I work with quite a few independent artists in NYC and Texas… a few are label bands, but mostly younger guys trying to break into the whole scene, which isn’t terribly easy to do these days. Hopefully you’ll be seeing my name on some of those more recognizable band albums in the next few years though : )

TDM: What kind of lighting set ups do you favour?

ERIC: Bought an Alien Bees kit in 07 and just started playing with the lights… now I use Profoto when the budget allows, or the trusty Alien Bees when I need to… they usually get the job done.

TDM: How much Photoshop/post production do you do, and do you do it yourself?

ERIC: You know, a couple years ago, I thought photoshop was the way to go, and it was evident in my work at the time… this year I’ve gone through several “seasons,” some loving the classic untouched film look, some still playing with the textures & layers photoshop provides. As for exposure, color balance, etc… I try to do it mostly in-camera these days. When I do need post-work, I typically do it myself.

TDM: Digital, film AND Polaroid from one photographer – that’s pretty unusual, any comments?

ERIC: I’m still very much a new kid on the block, and just love experimenting with all of it. The flexibility of digital, the beauty and range of film, and the uncertainty/surprises with polaroid… I like having all at my disposal, so when the mood strikes, I can run with it.

TDM: You are freelance and willing to travel – how busy do you keep and how far have you travelled?

ERIC: It’s been a busy year, and I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit, mostly within the US. I did, however, travel to Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia & Singapore in May… partly to shoot, partly just for selfish reasons. It was an incredible trip, but has certainly put the travel bug in me, and I’m eager to travel more in the coming years, hopefully for a mixture of editorial/ad work and non-profit assignments… we’ll see!

Eric Ryan Anderson Portrait

It’s been a real pleasure talking to Eric, but some of his answers have thrown up even more questions, so expect a follow up (assuming he doesn’t add me to his spam list after this!).

Spotlight on: Murray Garrett

Marilyn Monroe at GraumanĂ¢??s Chinese Theater - 1953

I was having a bit of a browse around the web today, looking for something inspiring to write about, when I came across Murray Garrett’s website.

Even if you’re not familiar with the name Murray Garrett I’m certain that you’ll recognize at least a few of his photographs. His shots of celebrities in 40’s, 50’s and 60’s Hollywood are legendary. To call them merely iconic is to do them a disservice.

Though his posed shots are stunning, I’m particularly fond of his candid work. His portraits are beautifully elegant and portray the subject in such a way that, even if you didn’t know who they were, you would be sure that they were a star. Somehow he maintains their glamorousness (I’ve checked and apparently that’s not a made up word) while managing to peel away a layer, allowing us a brief glimpse of something more than just the public persona of the celebrity, something deeper, real. What’s more, every picture emanates a real sense of reverence – something that in this era of paparazzi and in a culture where we’d rather see celebrities at their worst is really refreshing to see.

Dean cracks-up Kirk & Nancy

Garrett started his photographic career as a teenager, working after school as an assistant to the famous Broadway photographer, Eileen Darby. His first professional assignment was to cover Eleanor Roosevelt and Phillip Murray, president of the CIO, attending a play in New Jersey. Since that impressive start he has photographed literally hundreds of the most famous names in show business, sports, politics, the arts and sciences; often becoming the photographer of choice for the celebrity in question. Perhaps most interestingly so for the legendary Bob Hope. In Hope’s words, “His photographs were so great that from then on I didn’t leave home without him. And for 25 years he not only covered all my radio and TV activities but, he laughed at all my jokes. Now, that’s a major talent.”

In 2000 he published his first book, a collection of his photographs accompanied by an anecdotal commentary, Hollywood Candid, A Photographer Remembers. This was followed up in 2002 with Hollywood Moments. Both books are published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and are available to buy from Amazon.

I simply love looking at his photographs and If you haven’t already visited his website I strongly urge you to:

You can see another, larger collection of his work here: