Incredible Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop

Detroit-born, Florida-based renowned photographer Jerry Uelsmann has been manipulating photos long before Photoshop transformed the world of photography. The skilled and diligent creative has produced remarkably believable surreal landscapes by hand in the dark room. Without the aid of photo editing software, Uelsmann uses multiple negatives and up to a dozen enlargers to create composite images that boast a wild imagination.

The photographer's time-consuming technique was greatly revered before the advent of digital technology, especially before the rise of programs like Photoshop, for its innovative presentation of images that went beyond basic documentation. The images' artistic play on reality partnered with Uelsmann's skilled assemblage mesmerizes viewers, even today. His inventive and sometimes mind-boggling works blend opposing themes and visual motifs seamlessly into one frame. Man and nature become one and the impossible becomes possible in Uelsmann's surreal world.

Be sure to check out the video, below, of Uelsmann revealing his multi-step process in the dark room.

Jerry Uelsmann website
via [Photojojo, Catherine Couterier Gallery]


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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