Some artists use a camera to create their works of art by simply capturing the world around them. Others use Photoshop to masterfully manipulate photos to transform an image into something new. Others still, use photographic wizardry to create images that trick the eye or astound the audience.
Joseph Ford is one of those photographers. He painstakingly matches us the real world with the subject of his photographs. Whether that’s aligning clothing items with an aerial photograph based on colours and shapes or combining his keen eye with the skills of a knitter to create real-world camouflage.
Joseph Ford describes his work as ‘storytelling with a side order of off-beat creativity’. It’s certainly something spectacular. Take a look and see some of his best creations.
Hunters and soldiers use camouflaged clothing to blend into the environment and make themselves invisible from their prey. But the average layperson wears clothes to stand out from the crowd or just chooses clothing that feels comfortable and suits them.
In the big bold world we live in, you’re unlikely to accidentally find you’re wearing a jumper the same colour as the curtains or with the same pattern as the seats on the bus. Sometimes it happens, but not very often.
In this series of works, Joseph Ford worked closely with his friend Nina Dodd to create photographs where real people blended with their environments. These hand-knitted sweaters made by Nina Dodd were created specially to merge with the world in a particular location.
The result is a number of photographs which look like they’ve been Photoshopped within an inch of their life but actually, they’re just brilliantly posed and wonderfully prepared.
Tiles and tartan
A man sits on the steps of Tokoyo nightclub New Lex. His knitted jumper and trousers blend perfectly with the tiled floors and walls. This is no coincidence, but the result of perfect planning and wonderfully knitted materials.
Greens, blues and the musician
An urban scene in Brighton caught Joseph Ford’s eye and he saw an opportunity to create something special.
With the help of expert knitter Nina Dodd and modeling by Fimber Bravo, a renowned steel pan musician, the photographer was able to create this brilliantly colourful scene near the loading bay of a vegetarian shop in the city. Careful positioning, a fine eye for detail and patience resulted in a brilliant image that we thoroughly enjoy.
The happy cat
In this photo, a chap in a carefully knitted yellow jumper stands in front of one of the many examples of Monsieur Chat graffiti that appears on a variety of walls around France. This yellow cartoon cat with a large Chesire-like grin is a common sight on buildings around Paris and was originally spotted in Orléans in 1997.
With smart knitting and clever photography, Joseph Ford blends his subject with the painting to create this new image for us to enjoy. Two works come together to create one.
The resting ladies
You almost have to look twice at this image of two ladies (or is it just one?) resting against a wall with their jumpers perfectly aligning with the edges and lines of the frame. The positioning of the imagery is magnificent and we love the visually pleasing nature of these photos.
Beachy Head, grassy body
Another brilliant scene knitted into the background. This photo was taken near Beachy Head in the UK during the depths of the gloomy summer. As always, careful positioning and some brilliant knitting really set this image off. The video of the scene is also worth a look.
The melting runner
Resting after a run or simply melting into the track? Half of this woman almost disappears into her surroundings, another brilliantly posed image that no doubt took some careful planning and clever knitting.
Man’s best friend
Even man’s best friend isn’t safe from disappearing. This little dog has almost vanished into the undergrowth with the help of a knitted camouflage jumper.
This isn’t necessarily as good camouflage as the other knitted images, but it’s certainly a fantastic one. We can imagine how tricky it must have been to shoot as animals are often a pain to pose. No rats were harmed in the making of this photo though as the two animals were snapped separately:
“The original plan was for me to film Buddy the rat running across the carpet in front of the waiting cat. However Buddy didn’t want to play ball. He was quite happy putting on his knitted coat but as soon as we put him down on the rug, the friction between the wool and the carpet meant that he simply walked out of the sweater and scampered away.
The second time we tried this he turned and gave me a quick glance before running off. Bingo.”
There’s a neat little video to go with this image which really adds to the flavour.
Landscape fashion diptychs
In his other series, Joseph Ford took a number of aerial photographs and carefully matches up man-made clothing with the natural world. He puts a lot of effort into these images – lining up the clothing to position it in just the right way. This includes positioning the camera at the same angle as it would have been when the aerial photograph was taken.
The clothes are flattened, ruffled or raised in just the right places to create a wonderfully satisfying result.
Leather and lines
With the perfect placement of an earring and some leather material, Ford matches the lines of the real world creating a satisfying result. Where his knitted images blend colours, this one contrasts perfectly yet shines with symmetrical lines.
A parked shirt
This image is pleasing in multiple ways, the lines of the shirt match wonderfully with the world below. The highlights of wet tarmac, dry in places, marry up with the stonewash effects on the denim shirt. This photo demonstrates Ford’s attention to detail and the effort goes into his creations.
This image is another brilliantly crafted example with the lines of the fabric continuing the jetty, the blues of the ocean and the clothing almost match, with slight ruffles on the surface of both contrasting wonderfully.
Time to turn around
The aerial photograph here appears to show the end of a road with a place to turn around and go back the way you came. Ford expertly matched up the lines here with a watch placed neatly on a jumper. The colours contrast, but the result is wonderfully convincing.
A crisscrossed fence
We bet this perspective took some manipulation to with the lines of this jumper lining up perfectly with the fence. The red and white goal posts in the background fit perfectly here too.
Mountains of material
A superbly ruffled top matches convincingly with the rolling lines of the mountaintop. You almost have to look at this photo twice before it becomes clear that it’s actually two images perfectly aligned.
Shoes by the seaside
Both these images contain man-made materials, but while this ocean laps away at the wall, the lines of the show seem to carry on the structure into a new world of leather, cotton and rubber.
Time waits for no man
A busy overpass blends with the face of a watch. Time ticks by as people rush off to work or onwards on their journeys through life. Man-made materials blend across the photos and create a wonderful photo that’s easy on the eye.
Train trackers and zippers
With a steady hand, Ford takes a camouflaged coat and lines up the zip to this train track running through the countryside. The teeth of the zip match with sleepers and tracks of the line, creating a wonderful finishing image.
British flags and waterways
There’s a lot to love in this image. The shoes are by Pepe Jeans, a London-based fashion brand and the logo on the side lines up with the shape of London’s O2 arena (AKA the Millenium Dome). This way, both images are geographically matched as well as visually and are really pleasing to the eye.
Waves in the desert
These windswept sand dunes disappear off into the horizon. Ford used a ruffled jumper to carry on the lines of the dunes with the black parts of the jumper working perfectly as shadows in the sand.
By the seaside
Another aerial image of the seaside lines up with a fashionable camouflaged outfit. The curve of an open zip curling around the coastline.
Silver clouds in the lining
These hole-ridden jeans trick the eye as they’re blended neatly with clouds in the sky. The ground below is neatly represented by a knitted top that sites below the big blue sky.
If you’ve enjoyed Joseph Ford’s work, you can see more on his website or follow him on Facebook (@josephfordphotography), Twitter (@joseph_ford) or Instagram (@josephfordphotography)