Creating Patriotic Composites with Carrie Hampton

Whether you have a family member in the service or you favor images with a military motif, it’s always a good time to show your support to our troops and promote patriotism. Tara Lesher Education group member, Carrie Hampton, did a beautiful job creating nationalistic composites and was kind enough to share her techniques with us.

As a military spouse, Carrie enjoys creating composites that pay homage our flag and the U.S. Military’s A10 Warthog that her husband flies as a member of the Air Force. She believes these images deliver a strong message of pride and solidarity. Carrie particularly admires the A10 as a beloved and dependent military aircraft. 

To create The Patriotic Boy image, Carrie shot photos of a friend’s son whose father is also a pilot. She used a neighbor’s flag that was attached to a flag pole and brought it down for the shoot and also had the young boy wear an oversized pilot’s jacket.

Carrie shot the photo using the Brenizer...

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Best Halloween Photography Tips and Tricks for 2019

compositing photography Oct 09, 2019

Pumpkins, leaves, cool breezes, and cozy fires...autumn is my absolute favorite time of year! So it goes without saying that Halloween is my most-loved holiday. I am that crazy chick that starts digging out the decorations mid-September (or earlier ), and the one you see stalking all of the local stores after Halloween for the awesome sales on costumes and decorations to add to my already insane collection for next year’s photo ideas and home décor.

Fall is also my preferred time of year for outdoor photoshoots. You just can’t beat the beautiful colors, all of the leaves covering the ground lending more depth to your images, and not to mention the weather where you and your clients are neither sweating nor freezing your booties off (at least, that's how it is in the little area of the world where I live).

There is also no other time of year that I get more inspired to create composite images than Halloween with all of the costumes and props floating around and...

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A Complete Guide to Compositing Basics

compositing Sep 25, 2019


The very first step in your composite photoshoot will be conceptualizing what you would like to accomplish. I always recommend talking with your clients before the shoot to get an idea of what they are looking for. Ask them questions, find out what their interest is. What activities do they enjoy as a family, what are their children into…anything of significance to the particular family that you are working with? From here, you can collaborate and really make the family a part of the shoot from the beginning.

Once you have decided on ideas and themes for your shoot, start planning an outfit and prop choices. If you do not provide a wardrobe for clients, send them links to outfits that will best fit the ideas that you have planned. Be sure to give your clients plenty of time in planning and ordering before the shoot takes place.


Next, you'll want to start thinking about locations. If you already know that you would like to use existing scenery and add...

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Artist Inspiration: Norman Rockwell Series

compositing Sep 11, 2019

Every now and then, as artists and creative people, we run into someone or something that truly inspires us down to our core.  If you’ve been lucky enough to experience this feeling, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll sort of stop in your tracks and sense that butterfly in your stomach feeling—that excitement where everything stops for a moment and you just think to yourself “wow.” Or, if you’re anything like me, you may even say out loud to no one in particular, “That is freakin’ awesome.” 

As a child, my grandma would take me to these large flea markets that were set up inside of old barns. It would take us hours to drive there, but I loved every second of it. Most children would find this flea market to be extremely boring, and to be honest, I could have cared less about the actual items being sold there—I simply relished in the “feeling” I got in that place. Grandma liked...

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Which comes first, the Concept or the Shoot?

compositing Sep 02, 2019

Compositing…which comes first, the Concept or the Shoot?

This is something that I get asked every single day from photographers all around the world. “Where do I even start?!  Should I come up with the idea for my composite and choose my stock first, or shoot my subject and come up with ideas on how to use my model and choose what stock I want later. For me personally, the answer is both.

It is always a good idea to have some inspiration in mind when you go into the shoot on what you would like to create from your session. Especially when working with clients, it’s always ideal to ask them if they have any ideas or input as to what they would like for their children, what they would like to see hanging in their home. After all, these art pieces will be displayed in their home and should ideally have a special meaning for them. Consulting with your clients before the shoots also allow for you both to plan on outfit and prop selections.

Just the thought of...

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4 Reasons Why Photographers Should Have Personal Projects

compositing photography Oct 09, 2017

Although I have a busy schedule between shooting client sessions, conducting workshops, and mentoring photographers from around the world, I will always have at least 3 personal projects in the works at any given time.

For me, personal projects are one of the most beneficial things an artist and professional can have, not only for themselves but for their business as well.

Here are a few examples of my personal projects in my portfolio:

Why are personal projects so important and beneficial?

1. Purge

As artists, we always have ideas floating around in our heads, and if you are anything like me, it will drive you nuts until you see it come to fruition. Whether your final product exactly matches your vision or not, it feels amazing to get it all out and be proactive with your visions.

2. Freedom

Personal projects allow you freedom….freedom to fail, freedom to succeed, freedom to learn something new and freedom to experiment. The last thing we want as professionals, is to...

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Angels, Mermaids, & Ballerinas: What do these 3 things have in common?

This past weekend, on August 5th and 6th, I held my very first compositing workshop. I can't even explain the feeling of excitement and nervousness I felt leading up to the big day. I could hardly sleep! 

Thankfully, my background as a teacher helped prepare me to conduct the in-person workshop, and I'm happy to report: it was phenomenal! I'd like to share a few of the highlights with you here so those of you that couldn't make it can get a behind the scenes glimpse of what it was like to attend. 

We kicked off the Workshop with a meet and greet dinner in charming downtown Manassas. This gave everyone a great opportunity to network and get to know each other before the busy workshop began. Afterward we took a nice stroll and snapped or first group photo. 

As a side note: If you want to be part of the next workshop's group photo, sign up for the November Workshop here


Compositing Workshop Day 1: Photography & Photoshop Concepts and 2 Model Shoots


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From simple to spectacular: How to turn a boring backdrop into a custom piece of art

compositing photography Mar 08, 2017

One of my favorite things to do with studio shots is customize my backgrounds. When you customize your backdrop you have the benefit of:

  • Saving money and the trouble of having to buy a number of different backgrounds
  • Freeing up storage space since you won’t have to keep tons of backdrops in your home or studio
  • Shooting faster and more fluid sessions because you won’t need to keep pausing to change the backdrop
  • Tailoring each background to your models and what they are wearing

For the image above, the model’s hair was adorned with butterflies, so I knew that I wanted to do something whimsical and sweet with the backdrop. I chose to shoot on a cream-colored paper backdrop because it matched well with the color of my model’s top. Any backdrop color will work, but my favorites for shooting are white, cream, gray, and black.

After the photo shoot was complete, I pulled the image into Adobe camera raw and did my initial adjustments to the raw file. Next, I...

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Everything you need to know about Stock Images in compositing

compositing Jan 10, 2017

Looking for and choosing stock images can be one of the most overwhelming aspects to creating composites. Knowing which stock sites to use, searching within the stock sites, choosing photo sizes and resolution, deciding which images will work best for your particular composite, learning licensing and rules, etc. can make the whole process time consuming and confusing.

Stock Sites

Doing an online search for “stock websites” will pull up so many options that your head may start spinning. To help with the selection process, I have listed my personal favorite stock sites below. If you happen upon a site that you love, be sure to bookmark it so you can go back when you're ready to begin your composite.

Before I discuss my favorite sites, I want to mention one very important thing. Before downloading an image ALWAYS read all of the licensing and rules and make sure you are willing to follow them. The worst thing that you can do is head straight to your search engine image...

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Recreating Dances with Elephant

compositing photoshop Jan 09, 2017

I recently completed a composite image and posted it on the Tara Lesher group Facebook page. I called it Dances with Elephant. I thought it was a pretty nice image, probably one of my better composites, and hoped that a few people would like it.

I was totally overwhelmed by the reaction it received; you guys really loved it and some of the comments were really amazing. I'd like to share with you all how I came up with the idea for the composite and the elements I used to make it. Hopefully you will enjoy it and pick up a few tips that you can use in your own work. 

Now I don't know about you, but I love animals, and elephants are my absolute favorite. They are such majestic creatures. I am a sucker for pictures of elephants, and over the past year or so, I have taken pictures of them in zoos I've visited and also collected heaps of images from different stock sites. When I tell you that I have a lot of pictures of Elephants...I mean A LOT.

Like a lot of you guys,...

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