Anna McNaught

Los Angeles

Years working in photo-manipulation:
1.5 (ish) with a design background

Website and social media accounts:

Current employer/freelance:
Graphic Designer & Freelance

What’s your artistic background?
I grew up with a family of artists (my granddad illustrated hundreds of children books) and knew from a young age that I wanted to be in the arts when I grew up. I started working as a graphic designer in high school and photographing my world around me just for fun. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design to major in graphic design but transferred to Ithaca College to pursue a degree in photography shortly after. In 2013 I moved to LA to be a fashion photographer but started working full time as a graphic designer. In the corporate world, it’s easy to lose your sense of creativity so I needed an outlet for my wandering mind. That’s when I started playing around more with Photoshop and realized I could combine my love of design with my photography and create something really cool!

How did you get started in photo-manipulation and compositing?
See above

Are you self-taught or did you study?

Is photo-manipulation a hobby or full-time job?
Mainly a hobby right now but I’m Selling prints and starting to make money from working with brands

For paid work, how do you keep your personality in your creations when working from a brief?
It’s definitely tough!

A lot of times, as I’ve learned from my graphic design work, you need to just please the client. I’ve noticed most brands reach out to me because they like my style and want me to do a crazy edit so it’s a win, win.

When you start a manipulation do you have the end result in mind? Or doesit evolve as you progress?
I usually start with an idea but it always changes. Sometimes I get new ideas while I’m working on a manipulation and will open a new canvas in Photoshop, add some pieces and work back and forth between the two. I also have found that some days I will try to do an edit and end up with total garbage and then when I am just messing around, that’s when the best ideas come.

What’s the best advice you can give someone starting out in photo-manipulation?
I see a lot of people who only use stock images – I’m totally guilty of it too and use stock a lot when I haven’t shot in a while – but it’s so important to understand photography basics, how light works, how shadows play off of highlights, lighting at a certain time of day, etc. Once you know the rules, you can break them. So pick up a camera and learn how to use it on manual not auto. Your edits will thank you!

What software could you not live without?

What advice would you give someone for making manipulation a full-time job?
Goodluck! haha – just kidding – I would say, pay attention to detail. It’s easy to let that go when you are posting in a 4×5 space but clients will notice!

Can you show us your workspace? What are the most important features of it?
My workspace is my mind! And photoshop with a super messy desk 🙂

What’s your favourite photo-manipulation you’ve created and why?
My favorite will always be the self-portrait I did where I am cut in half.

It was one of the easiest manipulations I ever did because I just erased my legs. I’m proud of it because it’s all my own work and it’s me – mentally and physically.

I also love my bus and tornado. I took the photo of the bus in Joshua tree and added the tornado in photoshop. Simple yet effective.

Who’s your favourite photo-manipulator?
@nois7 100%

What’s your favourite book?
Growing up it was A Thousand Splendid Suns. Now it’s probably the business book under my bed – I haven’t read anything too exciting in a while 🙁

Although currently, I’m reading The Secret Life of Lobsters which is amazing hahah

What music do you listen to when working?
I like listening to chillstep whem I’m working

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