This week, I used Photoshop to tell a story. Two years ago, I spent a college semester living and working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. During the week, I was surrounded by the hustle and bustle of live events but I spent my weekends exploring different cities and sites around Southern California. I took many photos to capture my journey.

When it comes to creative design, there must be some structure. In order to evoke the right reaction out of your audience, you should spend time thinking about the concept of what you are creating. Ask yourself, what am I trying to tell the audience? The concept-creation process involves four steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Incubation
  3. Illumination
  4. Verification


When I began thinking about this project, I knew that I wanted to chose pictures that could relate to each other. An important aspect of the preparation stage is developing relationships amongst your elements (Landa, 2019). Living in LA was a significant time in my life and I learned a lot about the work and play culture of the city. I established that I had enough materials to tell a cohesive story. After choosing a rough cut of about 20-30 images, I spent the rest of the day focusing on other work and daily tasks.


Arguably the most important step, incubation allows you to take a step back from the project and then come back with fresh eyes. I had allowed my ideas to marinate in my head, where I could let my imagination run wild. Although I did not have much time to step away, it helped to even give myself 24 hours to take a break and have it sit in my subconscious.


Here is where I discovered what I wanted to say with this piece. After much consideration, I started to think about the stark differences between how LA is portrayed on camera vs. the reality of the city.

Celebrities often had all on eyes on them, having their schedules planned out to the minute. They were often ushered around, out of control of most of their day. I noticed how their faces would fall after the cameras turned off and how their lives were not what it may seem. While it is a beautiful city with great beaches and mountains, there’s also a lot of stress to be picture perfect.


After nailing down my message, I wanted to make sure that my goal was attainable. I looked through my materials again, checking to see if I had captured enough of both sides of my story. I had pictures of celebrities walking with their heads down after red carpets and cameramen squished together to capture the perfect shot. But I also had breath-taking views and glamour shots. I decided that I had enough to fully create my piece.

Bringing it together

I began with an image I captured at Fox Studios. These are buildings that are used in a number of movies and TV shows. I like that this images captures that they are only facades, rather than a real city street, giving only the illusion of a downtown. I chose to include iconic signs of places in LA such as the comedy club “The Laugh Factory” and vintage toy store “Wacko”. Both nods to tourism culture. On the back building, I included photos of myself and my roommates overlooking different cities. Under, I put in the “California Dreaming” sign. This is what I interpret to represent the ideal version of Los Angeles. Everyone thinks that it’s so beautiful and perfect, when in reality, it could be tough to live and work here. The bottom half of the picture can represent the reality of LA. I used a picture of water to represent how some celebrities may feel as though they are drowning, having all eyes on them. I included the paparazzi, with their cameras pointed right at people walking in the other direction, trying to go unnoticed.

I believe that my message was able to fully come alive in this photo. It was a creative challenge that allowed me to think outside the box and pull multiple elements together to create one story.

Landa, Robin. Graphic Design Solutions. Cengage, 2019.

“A History of Design Systems.” Intro Lecture,

2 thoughts on “Telling An LA Story Through A Collage

  1. Hey Kelsey,

    I think that your composition is very well done. It definitely gives off a “movie set” type feel, and my eyes are immediately drawn to the man and woman in the center. Did they just break up? Are they working with the camera crew and filming a scene? There are many side stories like this one that really make you use your imagination. I also enjoy the way that you were able to blend the water in with the foreground.

    One thing that I would be cognizant of are the proportions of some of your figures. For example, the figures on the roof of the building seem a little tall in size compared to the rest of the composition. Nonetheless, I think that it is very well put together and tells a great story!


  2. Hi Kelsey! Your blog post is laid out very well and helped me to understand exactly how you went about this composition. I like that you focused on the concept-creation process – because to me, creating a whole image out of almost endless individual images needs quite a bit of thought to make it work. I definitely see the ideas behind the story in your composition, well done!

    Something that catches my eye right away is the size of you and your roommates on top of the building. Compared to the celebrity figures, you’re quite a bit larger and darker, so it gravitates my attention to that. I wonder if making you all a bit smaller would help bring the proportions together, and help me to look at the celebrities and the potential hardships from living in LA.

    Awesome work!


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