The Discussion, originally uploaded by Sbmoot.

I did this photo after a portrait session with Pauline, who is a friend from work and (as you can tell) very beautiful and photogenic. We had a great time, with her putting on four different outfits and very gamely going along with all my ideas – also adding a few herself, in the process. The photos were some of my best, I think, and I am happy with the comments I have received on them, both on Flickr and in “real life” (notably from Pauline herself. Yay Pauline!).

This is what we call a “clone” photo, for obvious reasons. It’s ridiculously easy to do, though a bit time-consuming and involving very picky detail work if you want it to really work. There are actually a lot of ways to pull it off: click here for one method for doing a clone. Click here for another. Of course, if you want it be more than just a fun trick, like this one, you need to bring your creative juices to it and really rock the software.

In this case I asked Pauline to wear three of the outfits she wore during our session, and to pose in each one more time as though engaging in one part of an argument with “herself”. As I understand it, Pauline #1, on the camera’s left, and Pauline #3, camera right, are the ones having the argument, while Pauline #2 just seems to want to get out of there. The fact that she’s basically just wearing that coat and not much else gives her an air of vulnerability that really works (along with her facial expression and pose) for the photo’s story.

Clone photos are very popular with a certain set of photographers, in particular, often, those who do a lot of self-portraits. In some cases it has been elevated to a true form of photographic art. I am thinking in particular of the photography of Natalie Dybisz, a British photographer who goes by “Miss_Aniela” on She does other things that this, of course, but it is with her self-portraits – in particular cloned “multiplicity” shots – that she became as popular as she now is. There are others – if you go to Flickr and do a search for “clones” or “multiplicity” you’ll find all kinds of examples. My own attempts at it are really pretty pedestrian compared to some of what you will find out there.

Yes, it’s a Photoshop trick. The thing is, Photoshop is not cheating, it’s not a lie, and it’s not inauthentic. Photoshop (and similar photo editing software: it’s not the only one out there) is a tool for photographers to use to edit photos. This editing is only limited by the photographer’s own vision, and that vision can include whatever “tricks” are appropriate to the artist’s vision. Whether that vision is appropriate, ethical, beautiful, etc. is not a function of the tool, but the user of the tool.

Ok, that’s my rant for today. Till later!

Oh, and here is a really old clone I made of a friend’s son back in 2007 on the old point-and-shoot camera I took with me everywhere at the time. Enjoy!