Live Encore: Take Whimsical Photographs With Everyday Objects | Amelie Satzger | Skillshare

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Live Encore: Take Whimsical Photographs With Everyday Objects

teacher avatar Amelie Satzger, Photo Artist / Art Director

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 3.

      Shooting Your Photo


    • 4.

      Editing in Lightroom


    • 5.

      Editing in Photoshop


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Shoot and edit creative photos using objects you already have at home. 

Photographer Amelie Satzger doesn’t think you have to go far to find inspiration for truly creative shots. In this 40-minute class—recorded using Zoom and featuring participation from the Skillshare community—she’ll walk you through how she creates conceptual photos using everyday objects around her house. 

First, you’ll get a bunch of ideas for how to break out of a creative rut and find inspiration in things you have around the house, with examples of powerful photos Amelie has created while at home. Then, you’ll get to watch a live photoshoot where Amelie will show you how she starts to think about everyday objects in new and surprising ways. Finally, you’ll get the chance to edit alongside Amelie as she transforms her photograph into a surreal and whimsical work of art.

Amelie will be shooting on her iPhone, and you’re welcome to shoot using whatever camera you prefer. Ideally, you’ll have access to Lightroom and Photoshop for the editing stage. Great for photographers of any level looking to get out of a creative rut, you’ll walk away seeing the world in new ways—and hopefully with a pretty cool photograph to boot!


While we couldn't respond to every question during the session, we'd love to hear from you—please use the class Discussion board to share your questions and feedback.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Amelie Satzger

Photo Artist / Art Director


Hi, my name is Amelie.
I am a photo artist and art director from Munich.

My pictures are known for their colorful, surrealistic touch. Inspired by books, lyrics and words in total, I am able to abstract and visualize them into new artworks.

My work was already shown at numerous exhibitions and art fairs such as the "Fotofever" in Paris, the „United Photo Industries Gallery“ in New York and the „Galerie Courcelles Art Contemporain“ in Paris. Besides that I give workshops and talks at conferences and events and love to share my passion and knowledge with you guys.


You can also find my work on Instagram, TikTok, as well as free ... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Usually, you have like all these abstract really cool photo ideas in your head but you never really think about like just using what it's right in front of you. Using household objects is a really good way to challenge yourself, you don't need to buy any fancy equipment, you don't need to buy any crops or something like this, you just can use whatever is around you and get inspired for that. Hello everyone. My name is Amelie Satzger, I'm a photo artist and art director based in Munich. I create colorful stylistic artworks. I have worked with big clients such as Apple and Adobe over the last couple of years. So today is all about inspiration. As we are all sitting at home right now, I want to give you some tips and tricks of how to use household objects to create awesome, outstanding images. I will do a live photo shooting with you, and you can follow right along with me while I'm shooting, and we will also really brief the edited together afterwards. Whether you're a beginner or pro photographer, you can follow right along with me. You just need some camera, you can use your DSLR camera, but I'm using my iPhone, so if you don't have a camera, you can just use your iPhone as well. You don't need a tripod, but it's quite helpful if you have one. I also have a remote control, but if you don't have a tripod or a remote control, you can just use your iPhone and a timer, and some chair. I hope that everybody gets away with like a bunch of fun and inspiration after this class, and just see your household or any items lying around you with different eyes, and can actually start taking awesome photos with whatever you have in your house. Something to note, this class was recorded live and I got to interact with the audience while I was creating. Let's do this. 2. Finding Inspiration: Hi, everyone. I'm Danny from Skillshare. So excited for you to be joining. I work here at Skillshare on the new teacher development team and we're really excited to welcome Emily today. I will turn it over to you to share a bit more about household objects, and photographs. Yes, of course. Hello, everyone. Really happy to be here today. Basically, I have three principles I use mostly when I create images at home, and I want to share them with you today. The first principle I have is, potential is all around you. You just have to see, like you just have to use the items all around you. You have to think of a great idea. I think that sounds pretty trivial, but I will explain to you how I usually do it. These are a couple of examples. These are, for example, two images I shot with everyday items. You can see at the first one with the yellow background, it's with a cup of coffee. I actually got the idea when I was drinking a cup of coffee in the morning and I really loved the smell of the coffee. One morning I was thinking I would really like to visualize the smell, and this feeling when you smell a fresh cup of coffee, and I was thinking about it for a minute and I came up with this idea. What I would highly suggest you if you want to create images at home is if you have one cool idea you really like and you have shot the image, you can think about, what is the topic of this image. Like, is there an overall topic which you can use to create even more images. In this example, I actually thought about this is actually all about smelling, but we have more senses than just to smell. There are different senses; I can feel, I can hear, I can see, I can taste. I created actually five images for all five senses. You can see in the blue image at right, you can see that I created an image to feel something. I used just really everyday items. You can see everybody has a cup of coffee at home, everybody has needles at home, and created images with these items. You can also use your silverware to create awesome images. You can see here I used my forks to create this really a little creepy image but l wanted to make a few others uncomfortable with this image as well because nobody gets as close to your eyes as I did for this image. You can see actually for this image, I could also think about the main topic of this image, which is silverware. I can actually create another image with spoons. I could create another image with knives, but I didn't. I could actually, maybe I'm going to do that in the next couple of weeks, just to give you the main idea which I'm following most of the time when I'm shooting at home that I don't leave it at one image. I just continue thinking about, okay what else can I do in the same direction? You could also use your glasses at home. What I really like about glasses, if you fill them with water or with any liquid, they work like a magnifier and you can create really awesome images with that, if you place any items behind the glass. What l also really love is using sheets. You can see at the first image I actually use my bed sheets and that was right at the beginning of the coronavirus. Like all my plans for these year got canceled, which was really depressing to be honest, and I was lying down on a Saturday. At some point I was thinking I would like to capture this feeling I had at the beginning of the coronavirus, and that's where I came up with this image of a lot of mes lying in bed sheets. You can also use your scarves sheets in there also. Always really cool to create images with. If you have a lot of scarves at home you can just try to create something with them. What I use a lot of the time as well are any kinds of fruits. Today, we're also shooting with tangerines. I shot here on holidays with oranges and I created afterwards in Photoshop. I had all these oranges. But you can also use bananas, apples, every kinds of fruits you have at home. Really cool object to shoot with as well. Emily, what do you love about working with fruits? Because they are so colorful, that's what I actually love the most probably about them. Also, I'm just a really fan of fruits. I eat a lot of fruits. I usually have a lot of fruits at home. I also shoot with vegetables. But I actually, I think fruits are most of the time more colorful I guess, and my images are really colorful and that's probably why I use some quite a bit in my photos. Got you. You can eat them afterwards. Plants and flowers are also really awesome objects to shoot with. For example, in the first image here, you can see that's actually my favorite room plant. I called her Dora and I actually was thinking about how she would look like when she was a human. I came up with this image when I was just randomly thinking about stuff like that in my head. Also, you can create photos with flowers. You can just get a bunch of flowers in the supermarket. But when it's spring time, you can also go outside. As you can see with the daisies, it was the beginning of coronavirus and I was just associating the white daisies with white masks which we had to wear all the time at that time and still. I was creating a mask out of daisies. If you're lucky enough to have a bathtub, you can create really awesome images in bathtubs as well. Just a bunch of ideas which you can try out. You can put some milk in the water, which makes the water really foggy and white and interesting. You can also buy these underwater lights which are really awesome, and make this mystical looming feeling like in the image in the middle, you can see it a little bit. You can also put flowers in the water and they would swim at the surface. There are a lot of really cool and interesting ideas you can create with bathtubs. I didn't have one sadly right now. But every time I get into a hotel room I'm like, yes, I'm going to create something with a bathtub. Photos with the bathtub are you're using lights in them as well? Yes, in the one in the middle. You can see here that there was this yellow lights. You can actually change the colors of the lights, which is really helpful as well. You can actually put some colors in the water as well, which creates really cool photos. Okay. I also love mirrors. Mirrors can create so many interesting images as they reflect something different than its on the background. You can actually have like a whole scenery around your mirror and then something reflecting which it's quite interesting. It's like quiet interesting object to shoot with, and you can make really surrealistic compositions with a mirror. Actually if you break a mirror or have something broken at home, I won't throw it away right away. I would just sit there for like five minutes and think about what I can do with the broken mirror. I actually had a broken mirror here, and I use it for a lot of cool photos as well. Don't throw everything out which is broken. Maybe you can still use it in your photos. These just a couple of ideas of what everyday items you can use for your photos. The second principle I got is just to try it out. It's always worth the try, and if it doesn't work out as you would want it to be, then you just don't have to share it. Nobody ever needs to know that it's not as good as you wanted to be. I can't actually count how many photos I took which I never published because I didn't like it. To be honest, especially in the beginning of my photography, I was like okay, going out probably almost every day shooting and I think one third of the photos didn't make it to daylight because nobody ever saw them. Don't be afraid of trying things out and you will get more experienced over time and get a feeling also what things work, and what don't work. Here are just some behind the scenes videos. I also share a bunch of them on Instagram so you can check them out here as well. But literary, what I want to tell you if that is done and never 100 percent know that the image will work out the way I want it to be when I'm shooting. You just can't be 100 percent sure that's true. You just have to try it out and see if it's working. If it's not working, here you can see how I shot my photo with my bed sheets, and it was just a trial and error situation. You can see that it doesn't look as mystical as the end result and I was just wanting to try it out if it's working in the way I wanted to be. Especially this image, I had this idea for this photo in my mind for a couple of weeks and I was not sure how to shoot it. If I should shoot it outside. If I should shoot it inside. If it would at all look good or if it would just look really random. I was actually carrying around this idea for a couple of weeks and then at some point I was like, you know what, I just have to try it. If it's not working out, it's not working out. But I just have to see if my idea works. I actually tried it and it's probably my favorite image I shot in the whole year. It's worth trying always. The third principle which I wanted to share with you is to stay flexible while you're shooting. What I experience is that, I have sometimes one idea and while I'm shooting, I figure out that it doesn't work or maybe another idea looks better than the one I initially thought of. This is one example, actually this image what you already saw at the beginning here now. I actually, first of all, I had the idea of having my whole upper body in the image, and these were the images I shot before. While I was shooting, I was trying out different crops and I was thinking that I actually liked the other way of cropping the image much better. It looks much more interesting. It's something different. That's what happens when you just stay flexible while you're shooting, if you don't have one fixed idea. But if you try out, try different things out and just see what you like best. Here's another example. I actually had like this ball of blue and I just spin all over my room, and I honestly didn't had any idea how this should turn out at all. You can see the one image off when I was starting to shoot and I still had my cardigan on, I didn't have any lipstick on. I was just randomly starting off standing behind this mural, and I was just trying things out. I was just trying out how it looks like. Then I was developing from there on. I was just taking off my cardigan, I was putting some lipsticks on. I was trying some different poses and in the end I think it turned out really good. So I'm really happy with this image. Yeah, let's do it together now. I'm going to shoot something with you now live here. 3. Shooting Your Photo: Now let's start shooting our photo. I think everybody has these boxes at home right now because I think most of you are ordering online right now, Christmas presents, so I have a bunch of these at home, and I cut from one of these, the top part, and I put a hole on the one side. Actually, what I'm doing is I'm now lying on the floor and I just put my head in a box and then I put a bunch of tangerines around myself. My plan is to have a photo of my face looking out a bunch of tangerines. Maybe I bring my hand in the photos, while I'm picking some of them up, etc. We will try things out. I'm pretty excited to do it with you, show you how I'm doing it right now. If you would like to join, if you would like to shoot as well while I'm shooting, you can pick up any kind of item in your household right now as well. I will set up my phone, I will set up my lights, and we'll shoot together. Awesome. Here's my plant and this is one soft box. These are the soft boxes I use. They're really really, really basic. You can get them at Amazon for I think two for 50 bucks for something like this. Also, I have a really cheap tripod. You can see it here better probably. It's like an iPhone tripod also from Amazon. I think it costs around 20 bucks. If you just really Google or search on Amazon for iPhone tripod, you'd find it right away. These are actually my most important tools and with the tripod, when you order this one, you get this little remote control. It's Pluto's remote control and it's just really super easy to set up. I actually thought it's much more complicated, but it's just you have to connect it one time of Plutos and every second it's working. It's super easy, yeah. These are my basic setups, the light, tripod, and my remote control. Great, you can see I'm in Lightroom right now. I'm shooting with the Lightroom camera and yeah. I just put the exposure a little bit down because it's usually a little bit overexposed in the app. I think that some problem with the software between app and iPhone. But I just realize that and right now, I'm just lying down, I put my hand in the box. Just checking for a second, good. Everything looks good and I'm just trying to take some photos. That's actually really good because I can see myself now on the screen. It's taking photos here. Basically, I just have to take a couple of photos every now and then because else the camera is turning now, or the phone is just going into light mode, light turning off, so just shooting from time to time. It's quite simple, I just putting tangerines around myself and I'm just filling out the box. Basically, I'm just trying different policies and trying different neck for the beginning. I want to try to have only one tangerine in my hand and just reaching in and going to try a couple of other poses like closing my eyes, etc. Let's get off this and have a look at the photos. Yes, actually I think they are quite okay. Now, for the final image, I still need a couple of other photos. of only the tangerine because I want to expand the whole image and have a bunch of tangerines around myself. That's why I need to take a couple of other photos only of the tangerines so I can just expand the whole image and stitch them together. Let"s do it now. Let's get the iPhone. [inaudible] , when you start to do your portrait photos, do you have, I guess, certain number that you usually go for? How many photos do you try to get to make sure you have a good one?. I can't honestly tell you because sometimes it's only one round like right now, but I don't want to waste your time and do a bunch of times and sometimes I honestly take like an hour or something because I just don't feel really that the image is already taken, and try to have the same pose all over again because I really like the pose. But there's not like the one image from a face looks also good. I just continue doing what I'm doing all the time and it takes a long time, but usually, actually, it takes 15 minutes or something. I think I'm ready to used to [inaudible] now so I don't need it as long as I did in the beginning of my photography journey. Got you. That makes sense. I'm also taking some photos of single tangerines for my throat here to cover it up. Very cool. We got one tech question just about your connection for your remote. Is there anything specific remote that you're using or how you set it up? No, it's just Plutos and it's just connecting right away. It's super easy, you can't have it any easier to be honest. I've taken all the photos I need here now. You can see I have a bunch of photos of my tangerines, and I have some single ones. I have some photos of them in a box and I have my face photos. Now I'm going to go back to my computer and edit them in Lightroom really quickly and then take them to Photoshop to stitch all the images together. Let's switch over to the computer. 4. Editing in Lightroom: Next, I select my favorite photo and do some light editing in Lightroom. Basically what I do is just quickly look at photos and select one photo I really like, and then I will drop it over to my computer so we can edit it together. I think I really like this photo, so you can see it here. I really like this photo. Is it something that when you're picking, you just look at what strikes you or are you looking for something specific when you're picking your photos? Actually, I usually have one image which I usually like the best. I like this one as well, maybe that's a little easier. Actually, I just look through all the images and it's really instinct for me to feel which image is the right one for me. Sometimes if I have a series, I also looked at not two poses are too similar, they have different kind of poses and a couple of images where [inaudible] where I look in the camera directly. When I have a whole photo series, but when I choose to single ones I just like go with the feeling. Okay, here's the image I selected. Now actually you can see it's raw, that's why I'm shooting with flight room camera because it can shoot raw with your iPhone, which is really helpful. I just double-click on the photo just to open with Photo-shop. Like my raw settings come up and I can change them. You can see here, I think I put the contrast a little bit higher. I think the shadows should go a little higher as well. I don't do too crazy match. I sometimes go into the color mix panel which changes colors and I just see in this image we have a lot of orange tones because it's like the tangerines. And I can see how I can change them. I can saturate them as well. A little bit like the yellow tones and the orange tones. You can see with the orange tones to my skin tones changed as well, which I don't really like, so I'm not changing too much right now. 5. Editing in Photoshop: Finally, we bring this photo into Photoshop to edit it a little bit more and make it a really unique photo. For this one right now, we have to click "Selection" tool, really easy. My tangerines and my face because that's the part I want to have in the image, this one, and also part of my hand. As I said, this is a really, really quick intro on how I'm editing my photos, because usually it takes about an hour to edit my photos. I just try to show you really quickly how I'm doing it. Then I go into Mask tool. You can see the Quick Selection tool was not really precise. I'm just going in with a black brush, 100 percent with sharp edges, and I just cut the edges here a little bit so they are looking a bit better. I think this whole we don't really need because there will be tangerines in front of them, and I hold shift to just get from one point to the other. So I click on one point, hold shift and click on another and it just draw us a direct line from the one point to the other. Next I just place them, had right in the middle where I want it to be, so right around here and I cut the image to the size I want it to be. I think it's going to be like this. Then I'm going to take in another image and I'm just going to select one of the tangerine shots like these ones and I drop it over to my computer. Now we have to maybe darken it a little bit, make the contrast a little higher, lighten the shadows a bit and you can see some of the tangerines are a little bit more orange and some of them are a little bit more yellow so you can see these ones are reacting to yellow and I actually want the yellow ones to be a little bit more orangey. I'm just putting lighting until the yellow turn towards orange. No, I don't want that. Let's open that. Then I select again with the Quick Selection tool, only tangerines, which are fully in the image. All of them are quite fully in the image, but just around the edges, because that makes the editing much easier. Then I copy it with command copy and then I go over to my image and I paste it and I put it underneath my head and then I transform it so it's as big as the tangerines. I can see here around my head and I can also go closer so I can see, this is still a little big. Think like this, it's okay. I just place them here. I can also copy them. Usually I use a couple of different images but right now I think it's just so you can see how it looks, I just copy them. I can also turn them around. Put them underneath of the layers. It doesn't look as good. You can see I would still put some shadows underneath the tangerines around my head because you can definitely see the edges now and you can see that they are a little bit darker. If I would edit it right now fully, I would definitely correct that. But right now what we can also do is bring in the single tangerine photos and correct this area here, place some of them [inaudible] We can actually see if we can use one of these here. Just for a sample, I want to have it colored quite smoothly so I'll just use this one and I place it above my skin here. Of course, I would also use a couple of different ones, not always the same one, to make it look more realistic, and I would also smoothen the edges much more because they don't look really smooth right now. I would just make some shadows here as well so it looks like the hand is reaching out of the tangerines and it looks more realistic. But just so you have an idea of the whole image. When I'm finished with the base image, what I call the base image, I would select all the layers and place them in a group and I would just call it base image. Then after that I would create an another group and I would put two Gradationskurven, in one where I make the image a little bit lighter and one where I make the image a little bit darker and this one is the darker one. I just switched the mask from white to black so you can't see actually what I darkened right now. Then I make one where I lighten it and after that, I just quickly place them in a group, and after that I just quickly name them. I paint in with a white brush, a really soft white brush, and make the thing which I call painting with flight, which creates this surrealistic look in my images. So I basically just paint in with a really soft white brush and paint in my image and make my skin a little glow. Of course, I would also edit all these little pimples and whenever I have on my face out but I think for now it's okay. That's how I usually do it. Then also darken it a little bit, here maybe, maybe that was too much. You can see the brush only has like 10 percent right now, so it's really soft. I would also darken my eyebrows a little bit. My eyelashes sometimes swell but right now I don't need it, and my hair. Basically I would do that with my hand as well. You can see it changes your face quite a lot. It's maybe even a little bit too much right now but you can see where it's going. I would also do it with the tangerines around me. What actually happened with this one? Too much of a perfectness. I just need this one to be here. Good. So now I actually painted with light, I created this tangerine photo and as the last step or one of the last steps, I would create another group and I would call it Look. In this look group, I would just make basic changes like changing the colors in the image. For example, I can change all the tangerines in here. So maybe make them a little bit more orange. I don't want the face to be that affected so I just paint in with a black brush and paint out the face so the face is not affected by the colors. You can see they're more orange now. I would also like to have my lips a little bit more red, so I basically go in with a Gradationskurven and change the color panels in the Gradationskurven and I only select my lips. A little bit softer. Maybe a little bit darker and not that intense. I would just do things that affect the whole image kind of or it just change the look of the image. So yeah, that is just a really, really brief overview of how I'm editing my photos. 6. Q&A: Now we're going to take some time to field questions from students in the audience. Someone asked where did you study, or I guess to expand on that, can you talk about any of the key points of how you developed your process and how you learned how to do this? Yes, of course. I started taking photos when I was 19. That was I think seven years ago now, and right after that, I applied for the University of Applied Sciences here in Munich and I studied photo design. I studied for four years and basically the whole studies was more about shooting in a studio, learning all that camera settings, etc., but not much about Photoshop, and I only had one photoshop course, and I really loved it, but I mostly teach myself. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and I did an internship at a photographer, and he does a lot of really crazy editing stuff and Photoshop as well, and I learned a lot from this photo studio where I worked at, which was really helpful. Most of my Photoshop skills probably come from that. Got you. That's super interesting. Yeah, a lot of learning photography in a traditional way, but then a lot of your style with Photoshop was dropped on your own with learning. We got another question, just about other tools for photo editing. I know you are using Lightroom to shoot and then Photoshop to edit, but are there any others you've seen that you'd recommend? Also, maybe if I work on Android. On Android, I think Lightroom is for Android and Apple, so it's for both devices. I actually, I use a couple of apps for the iPhone, but if you want to get really into deep editing stuff, I would highly suggest you Photoshop. It's like key tool. At the very beginning when I was 12, I was actually starting to work with Photoshop and I started with Gimp, which is a free tool, and I think it's quite good as well, but I think if you want to get really deep into editing there's no way a wave around Photoshop. Cool. What was the name of that free one? Gimp. It is G-I-M-P. Wonderful. 7. Final Thoughts: That's all for today. Thank you so much for joining me at the live photo shooting. I hope you got a bunch of new inspiration for your next shooting. If you would like to get more creative at home, I have one task for you if you would like to do it. I think it's really helpful if you just choose any kind of item lying around you. As I said, I chose the coffee cups so you can literally choose anything around you, and just spend five minutes thinking about what awesome image you can do with this item. I think it really helps to just expand your horizon and think about different ways. I think, usually, if you use items hundreds and hundreds of times, you have one specific thing you do with it. But if you break that like if you train your brain to think differently and think of different way how to use an item, you can come up with really awesome ideas. For example, if you're just sitting at your table and you have like a salt shaker in front of you, you can think of different ways of what to do with salt. You can, for example, do it right now like I did with the tangerines, just serve the whole box with salt and you just slide there like it's sand. You can also put it in warm water and let crystals build up on the corner of your glass and do something with these crystals. You can also put it in your face like it's something sandy in your face. There can be so many good things you can do with everyday objects. If you just spend five minutes a day thinking about what to do with this kind of object, I think you would come up with a lot of cool ideas. If you don't come up with any idea, it doesn't really matter. It's just a training for you, continue with the next item the next day. I'm really excited to see what ideas you came up with. Please don't forget to share your results in the project section of this class to share with the community. Thanks, everyone, for tuning in. For more about how to shoot creative images and my Skillshare class about iPhone photography, please check out my Skillshare profile.