Creating Conceptual, Dreamlike, and Psychological Photography with Lara Zankoul

Creating Conceptual, Dreamlike, and Psychological Photography with Lara Zankoul

My photography is a mix of conceptual, dreamlike and psychological themes. I use the art of photography to give a new and different vision of the world and recreate the harmony of what I see, instead of showing reality it as it is. In my body of work the moment is created rather than caught, and pictures tell stories rather than document. The pictures feature anonymous and timeless characters, each immersed in his/her own world. I want each photo to convey a story or trigger a thought. Throughout my work, I speak the language of symbols, which can be stronger than words. I want to show how meaningful a picture can be. I am inspired by classical tales, surreal artists and childhood memories.


Conceptual photography requires that I plan my shots before going on the field. Sometimes the concepts pop up in my head out of nowhere, whereas other times they are well thought and elaborated. The hardest thing is the passage from idea to reality; the implementation of the photo is sometimes harder than expected and it may have limitations, that’s why it’s important to think of these limitations ahead of time. After taking the photo, I pass to editing the photo. I like creating dream-like pictures, which is why post-processing is very important to me. The editing completes my vision, and allows me to change reality by giving it a new mood. I work with Photoshop CS4. My editing technique is mainly based on color treatment. I adjust the color depending on the mood I want to convey.

If it’s a sad or dark theme, I tend to desaturate the colors and use cold tones (blue/cyan), like in the photos below.

On the other hand, if it is a happy/joyful mood, I use warm and vibrant colors (red, yellow).

My editing techniques can be summed up to the following: color balance, curves, brightness/contrast, vignetting and adding textures sometimes.


In the photo above, I used mainly the curves tool to change the colors and contrast. I aslo added a texture for the light beams. I played on the light to make the photo’s mood more dramatic and add some feelings to it.

In this picture, I accentuated the white of the fog (created by the fog machine I used) and brightened the photo to create a positive mood using the curves tool. I also added a vignette using the lens correction tool on photoshop.

The 2 versions above are edited in a different way. In the first one, the colors look more natural. However, the second one is dreamier. I like the second one better because I like this un-real dreamy mood. You can find more of these (before/after or editing1/editing2) on my Facebook Page.



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