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first composite created by dallas composite photographer, jason ulsrud

Where it all Started, and then Photillustrator

As we jump into 2016, I can’t help but to look back at the first year of being a Portrait Photographer in Dallas and how far I’ve come with my style of photography and portraits.

So I’d like to take you back to December 2014, and share my very first attempt at Composite Photography, and how Photillustrator began.

You may be thinking, “A Year? How have you only been doing this for a year? and what were you doing before that?”

Let’s start with taking a look at my very first Composite.

First Composite Photography

In December of 2014, I had already made the decision to close my Chiropractic office and go back to doing what I love.


Already having a “Traditional Portrait” background, I knew I would rather die than to go back to composing portraits with everyone dressed up the same, lined up in a row, in their living room or in front of a creek, and all smiling for the photographer to take the picture.

I had this crazy idea that I wanted to incorporate something different, and create portraits that told a story.

jason ulsrud first composite photography of family at christmas

To do this, I knew in my head, I would use several different photographic images blended together in a technique called Composite Photography.

Coming from the old school of film photography, I never EVER had touched a digital image, little lone taken several digital images to cut them up and Composite them together.

Needless to say, I SUCKED at this process, but walked away knowing deep in my soul…

“This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Factory 8 Photography

My biggest hurdle to accomplishing my dream, was the Chiropractic practice I currently owned and operated.

I had responsibilities to people I took very seriously.

By the end of February 2015, I made arrangements for my patients, closed my practice, and started Factory 8 Photography.

I had this crazy idea I was going to churn out photography like it was a factory. LOL

None of this, however, could have been done without the support of my wife Taren, who was the model for my second Composited piece.

composite portrait of taren ulsrud

This portrait was a major piece in my process of discovering my style of artwork, and started me down a path to discovering my “illustrative” style.

I Think I’m on to Something Here!

After a lot of work teaching myself, and experimenting with Compositing, I knew I was onto something with my first “scenic” Composite.

composite of twin brothers with sling shot

Excited that I had stumbled onto something I felt would not only make a great portrait for a family, but also a great Advertising Photography piece as well, I took the next step in my Compositing journey.

Fabricating a Robot.

composite of my twin boys called bob marley

The robot in this Composite was fabricated out of 38 separate images, and took several hours of work to complete.

Additionally, this was the first piece I used my signature enlarging of the heads, which I swore I would never do before this.

Making solid progress of reaching my dream, I was quite happy with what I was producing, but I was still missing something.

And then Photillustrator

As I continued developing what would become my Photillustrator style of portraits, I found myself having an “Identity Crisis”.

Am I a photographer, or am I an illustrator?

While this doesn’t seem like much of a deal, many in photography, especially photography purists, snub their noses at those who “over manipulate” their images using Photoshop.

I frequently say, “My real job doesn’t start until after the images are taken.”

One day, while having lunch with my good friend and business consultant, Wes, I made the comment, “I’m not a photographer, and I’m not an illustrator, so what am I?”

And he quickly replied, “You’re a Photillustrator!”

composite photography of fairy tale camping scene by dallas portrait photographer jason ulsrud

This Photillustration is of Wes and his family, and symbolizes my Photillustrator style best in 2015.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE creating Signature Family Portraits!

What’s Next in 2016?

While I could go into much greater detail about my year of 2015 and the journey of Photillustrator, I’ll save that for my upcoming article called A Year in Review, Photillustrator through 2015”.

Big things are coming for Photillustrator in 2016.

With each new Family Portrait I create, comes new challenges, and with new challenges comes growth, so through 2016 you will continue to see my Photillustrator style grow, as well as the Experience my company delivers.

Because I believe Art should be Experienced, not just viewed.

I would like to THANK EVERYONE who played a part in helping me bring my Dream of Photillustrator into a Reality. And I mean EVERYONE…

Comments (2)

Hi Jason,
Glad you are enjoying your photillustrator related work, but sad to hear you gave up on your chiropractic. You were a real inspiration to many chiropractors, with your fresh and honest assessment of practice growth and practice pains. It sounds from patient comments you were a very good adjuster. I know first hand how frustrating it can be not financially being compensated for the skill we offer in chiropractic. It’s taken me over twenty years to find the niche that works well for me. I now see a fair amount of people, charging a modest fee/no insurance type of care. I just believe you didn’t have the right unique formula for you. I would hope somewhere in the future you would return to Chiropractic and get the office/set up that works for you so you can be financially successful and mentally/spiritually rewarded and fulfilled.

A friend in Chiropractic,
Larry Goodwin, D.C.

Hey, Larry… Thanks so much for reaching out and your kind words. Chiropractic has a long history within my family when my grandfather became a Chiropractor following WW2, and I LOVE the practice and philosophy of Chiropractic. My decision to leave the Chiropractic profession had NOTHING to do with my practice or my income, but EVERYTHING to do with fulfilling my Passion. I have always been attracted to the arts, and from very early all I wanted to do was photography. In fact, I have a degree in photography and spent the first several years out of college as a photographer. Today, with Photillustrator, I’m living my dream and I couldn’t be more at peace and thankful I made the choice to leave Chiropractic and become a Portrait Photographer. My life’s too short, and getting shorter with each passing day, to waste it doing something I don’t LOVE. All that said, keep up the great work as a Chiropractor, and thanks for stopping by.

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