Unreality Studios manifesto

Part 7 of A Photo-Illusionist’s Declaration by Jerry A. Sierra

The Rules of Unreality

Unreal landscape with freeways

These elementary rules of unreality tend to be personal and possibly dangerous to a creative type roaming about a cubicle jungle full of aggressive realists. I’ve tried to ignore these rules often, as it doesn’t seem realistic to follow each and every one. The trick (challenge) is to identify the ones that apply to the situation and apply its wisdom.

Some of the rules may seem abstract and silly, but any painter, musician or unrealist will see the hidden wisdom…

These very real rules of unreality seem to apply equally to the practice of making such images and the experience of viewing such images. Some rules may not apply to your specific situational configurations.

  1. 1. The “unreality” you propose must be honest. Don’t try to fake it.
  2. 2. It must not be boring (unless on purpose).
  3. 3. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to let yourself be drawn deeply into your own fears.
  4. 4. Be clear of the main goal: to tell a story… or, actually, to show a specific frame from a story that will continue after this frame and features additional story that came before this frame
  5. 5. Be open to rediscovering your project: don’t rely on outlines or drawings too much. Be ready to change/evolve during the photo shoot and the post-shoot Photoshop sessions…
  6. 6. Stay true to the original idea… even as things progress.
  7. 7. Wide angles rule!
  8. 8. The sky and the ocean are often the same sides of different coins… and if this makes sense to you, then you’ve nothing to fear from the richness of unreality. (But if it doesn’t, please get help before you hurt someone.)
  9. 9. Rely on instinct… pretty is not always beautiful… and beautiful is sometimes cruel… (I’m referring to the Unreal Landscapes at jerrysierra.com)
  10. 10. Blue skies are boring!
  11. 11. You don’t need to know why you’re drawn to unreality… everyone is. Most people just deny it to themselves.
  12. 12. Strictly in terms of image content, composition and presentation:
     a. Intuitive comprehension ALWAYS beats logic
     b. Don’t be afraid to get weird
     c. Always UNDERSELL… (let the viewer discover)
  13. 13. Rules are made to be considered, not worshiped.
  14. 14. Don’t be afraid to discover new rules and discard old ones.
  15. 15. The truth is always greener on the other side.


NEXT: Meet the Players

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