How I make my photo-mosaics
I am often asked how I make my pieces. Many people can't quite figure out my process just by looking at the finished product. Some mistakenly believe they are the product of one large photograph cut up into many small pieces. It's actually the exact opposite. Each large-scale mosaic is the product of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of small, detail, close-up 4x6 inch photographs taken from different angles and sometimes even on different days. Because of this confusion, I decided to document the making of my most recent photo-mosaic.
Over the span of 8 days, I shot 18 stop-motion videos using an app that triggered my iPhone to take a photo once every 5 seconds. I then edited the videos together and sped them up to reduce 28 hours of work into 2 minutes and 42 seconds. As is often the case, the initial idea is abandoned in favor of a final piece that bears little resemblance to both where I began and the actual view that was photographed.
I've been experimenting with photo-mosaics since the late 80s. One day, back in high school, I was sitting in my photography class, absent-mindedly leafing through an art book our teacher had left out for us. I came across a small picture of a photo-mosaic by the English artist David Hockney, called "Pearblossom Highway" and it blew me away. I instantly knew that I wanted to try my hand at that same style of art.
Over the next 20 years or so, I did a few small mosaics made up of 10-20 photos each.
Then, in 2007, I decided to finally try my first large-scale collage. It was quite an experiment. I went into Prospect Park one frigid winter day and lay down on the roots of a massive, old elm tree that had always caught my eye. Looking back up the trunk of the tree, and out into the distance, I used my film camera and proceeded to shoot 4 or 5 rolls of film, a total of about 180 detail photos. Then I had them developed as 4x6 inch prints and got doubles so as to have more ingredients in case I needed them in the composition phase. The finished product ended up very differently than a realist interpretation because of the angles I had chosen to shoot from, which was an interesting lesson for me. It turned into an abstract piece and set the tone for my future work, which combines elements from the actual scene I witness, yet often is mixed with different perspectives to yield a vision that is often imaginative and decidedly not literal.