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Creating Kitchen Chaos with only 31 Images

Before I officially launched Photillustrator by Jason Ulsrud and became a Rockwall, TX Portrait Photographer, I spent an entire year teaching myself how to Composite Photos and developing my illustrative style. This R&D (Research & Development) resulted in me creating my Creative Family Portraits for free so I could practice my technique and improve my skills.

Today, I’m going to share one of my BEST Portraits to date and how I created Kitchen Chaos using only 31 individual images.

As a result of a Free Project I did for Mark Thompson, owner of Davis Street Tattoo in Dallas, TX, I unexpectedly received a call over a year afterward asking if I could do a Family Portrait, of what I would come to find out to be, a very interesting and fun family.

Of course, my answer what “YES”, and this is what happened.

Meeting the Lloyd Family

One of the best parts of being a Portrait Photographer who specializes in creating Uniquely Different Portraits for Uniquely Different People is I get to meet some really interesting and eclectic individuals. You know, people who outside their home appear to be just like everyone else, but once you get to know them, their Unique Difference shines bright.

Aaron Lloyd and his family are a perfect example of Uniquely Different People.

lloyd family portrait and composite photography by dallas portrait photographer jason ulsrud

On first impression, Aaron and Lori seemed like most families who want a Family Portrait, but after digging a lot deeper in their Discovery Session, I quickly realized this family truly needs a Portrait that captures their CRAZY Uniqueness in a way like no other Photographer can.

With Mom and Dad, 4 Kids, 5 Dogs, 3 Cats, and 1 Parrot, the challenge was how do I fit all these wonderful characters into the tight space of a kitchen?

As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy, but like with all my Signature Style Portraits, it starts with creating a Concept Sketch to lay out all the details and determine where I may run into problems while putting this Amazing Portrait together.

concept sketch of lloyd family portrait by dallas portrait photographer jason ulsrud

One thing you may notice, and this happens with nearly all my Signature Style Portraits, OK, it happens with ALL my Portraits, is that the final Portrait turns out a bit different from the Concept Sketch I created in the beginning.

That’s mostly because your Portrait is created and put together based on a feeling.

As I’m adding elements to your Portrait and laying out your Composition, if it “feels” right I go with it, but if it causes me anxiety or I’m uncomfortable, I change it and work it until it “feels” good.

31 Images of Kitchen Chaos

Up until this point, all the scenes (backdrops) for my Signature Style Portraits were outside, making it easier to fabricate by removing houses, adding trees, and creating any sky I thought worked best.

Kitchen Chaos was different because the scene was to be inside the Lloyd Family’s Kitchen.

The Kitchen in this Portrait, believe it or not, was created using at least 8 different images I strategically took from various angles and camera positions, which answers a very common question I get from people interested in having me create a Signature Style Portrait for their family, “Can we use our own pictures, or do you have to use your own?”

The photo above represents what the scene would look like if I were to use only ONE IMAGE from my camera, which gives you a better idea of how much better it looks after it goes through my Photillustrator Process.

composite photography breakdown of lloyd family portrait by dallas composite photographer jason ulsrud

#1: Kitchen Right
#2: Kitchen Wall
#3: Kitchen Right Top
#4: Kitchen Middle Top
#5: Kitchen Middle Bottom
#6: Kitchen Left Top
#7: Kitchen Left Bottom
#8: Fabricated Ceiling
#9: Aaron
#10: Lori
#11: Zoe

#12: Lucas
#13: Maya & Austin
#14: Cat on Counter
#15: Dog by Aaron
#16: Dog on Island
#17: Cat on Island
#18: Dog Jumping
#19: Puppy
#20: Puppy
#21: Hiding Cat
#22: Reggie’s Wing

#23: Reggie the Parrot
#24: Bread
#25: Reggie’s Tail
#26: Flames
#27: Light
#28: Microwave FX
#29: Towel
#30: Water
#31: Keys

A Closer Look BTS

One of the coolest things about your Creative Family Portrait is seeing the original images used for your Portrait vs. what it looks like once it’s completed, and thanks to our Journey Book feature, you can see the original images and everything it took to create your Uniquely Different Family Masterpiece.

That’s a Wrap

With a Traditional Portrait like the one’s you’re used to getting from regular portrait photographers, what you see is what you get, and seldom is there a lot of substance behind the image collecting dust on your fireplace mantle.

Your Signature Style Portrait by Photillustrator is completely Different.

From the multiple stories hidden throughout your Portrait to the stories you’ll have of creating it, your Uniquely Different Family Portrait will become a conversation piece you’ll want to share with friends and family for years to come.

Why settle for Traditional when you can have a Uniquely Different Portrait that tells your Story?

Comments (5)

Ahahahhaha…….I am REALLY loving your Photillustrations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am not even sure which one I love the most! I had to just write to tell you I think you do AMAZING work. I really don’t think most people understand how the whole ‘creative process’ works. I’ve been shooting photography but want to break out of that whole ‘hum drum’ portraiture look/feel. I love shooting people but……………… people!! They have to be creative and willing to do anything. That’s where I really love getting them going and using their own creativity along with my own. Another reason why I love kids to come up with their own ideas. They are very imaginative if you allow them to be. They come up with ideas that can sometimes be crazy, but that’s the best part. most parents try to reel them in, but why?? I talk to the parents and tell them that kids are happy knowing they can come up with the ideas for their photos by themselves!! Some of my BEST shots come from their ideas! I believe in allowing the kids to be themselves (I do on location photography so they are allowed to skateboard, jump rope, hula hoop, run the dogs, etc.)
The reason I am contacting you is to let you know how great you are. I am always looking for inspirational ideas. I haven’t developed my own style yet, but have lots of ideas I’d like to do. I’m getting older so I should really start writing those down! LOL! Pretty soon I will be moving to NY and thought since I have to start all over with a client base, I’d like to come up with something extra special and unique. I’m still waiting for that brainstorm! I saw a photographer who has a very similar style as yours but it was only with dogs. She is AWESOME!!!!!!!!! I can’t remember her name or website or I’d pass it along to you.
I have the perfect family for your style of photillustration. They are great friends of mine!! They have dogs, cats, fish, two goats, big yard with a tree swing, plastic pool for the ducks, a pet mouse, you name it! They’ve got it. It’s truly a circus at their home and when looking at your crazy unique designs it reminded me of them!!!
I remember last year, Michelle was telling me a story about how she was on her phone on Facebook while sitting on her patio furniture. She said all of a sudden she looked up and her youngest son, who was roughly 1.5 at the time, was bottoms up in the duck pool!!! LMAO! I could just picture this scene incorporated into one of your designs!!
Okay, I want to go watch more of your videos. I believe you posted a link to Youtube. I always LOVE learning new stuff!! Thank you so much for entering my Photo life!!

That’s Awesome Cheryl. I’m so happy you’re inspired and Thank You for commenting. If I could offer some advice, do the type of portraits that make YOU happy and don’t listen to anyone else. Inspiration is all around us all the time.

Hi Jason,
This is so awesome! I have a question. Looking at the dad (and others) he is not in same spot relative to the cabinets in the “after” image. Did you cut him out and move him? Or did you mask him in? I’m trying to understand how you decide to shoot someone on a white background or photograph them in the scene.
Second question, is when you are taking the dads picture or the jumping dog, for example, are you leaving the camera on the tripod in the same position or are you taking the camera over to them.

Hey Clare… Thanks so much for your questions. To be honest, this is one of my older portraits so what I do today is different than what I did back then. I generally photograph everyone with a white card behind their head to make extracting hair much easier. I also don’t really care where I photograph them relative to the scene because I know I’ll be extracting them to place within the scene wherever I want. I like having as much creative control as possible. So, if this is an inside portrait like the one you see here, I would place an X on the floor for my characters to stand while I move the camera back and forth based on their distance from the camera in the image I’m creating. As I’m typing this, however, I’m understanding how difficult it is to understand. I think it’s just something I’d have to show you to really get.

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