Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait Turned Into a Photograph


What would Vincent van Gogh’s work look like if he had been a photographer instead of a master painter? Would he have created his self-portraits using a camera instead of a brush?

Photographer Tadao Cern recently created an interesting image that explores this question. He took one of the artist’s most famous self-portraits and using Photoshoppery to recreate it as a still photo.

Here’s the painting he started out with:


…and here’s the photograph Cern came up with:


Crazy, huh?

Check out this video that shows a piece-by-piece comparison of the two images:

Here’s what Cern tells us about the project:

I recreated one of the most famous Vincent Van Gogh self portraits as a photography using DSLR and ‘some’ Photoshop tricks. The idea came spontaneously – I saw my friend that has ginger hair and beard and thought that it would be very funny to make a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.

He liked the idea and a week later we met in my studio. After some preparation work we made few shots and after a day of editing the final image I posted it on the Internet.

At the moment I have no plans to make something similar but who knows:) I think that this only one image stand quite good for himself as a project already.

Funny that a lot of people are confused by the image. Some of them keep asking me if there’s really a guy that looks so alike Van Gogh. Some of them don’t believe that it’s a photo at all. And some of them thought that I really took a picture of Vincent Van Gogh.

The accuracy of the recreation is amazing. You can find more of Cern’s work on his website, on Facebook, and on Behance.

Update: Here’s some additional info from Cern on how he created the image:

First of all, I needed a model with red hair. Than we the help of a stylist we recreated the outfit. And then after basic composition shot I took a lot of detail shots which where incorporated in the main image. It was a lot of cloning, stretching, drawing, pushing, lifting. It was almost as painting a new image looking at the reference and original painting standing next to me.

P.S. You might recognize the name Tadao Cern. We’ve featured his work a couple times before — he’s the guy who created the viral photos and videos of people having their faces blasted by leaf blowers.

Image credits: Photograph and video by Tadao Cern

  • Bart Willems

    “If photography had been around in the 19th century, would Vincent van
    Gogh have been a photographer instead of a master painter? Would he
    have created his self-portraits using a camera instead of a brush?”

    Actually, photography WAS around in the 19th century, and especially around the time Van Gogh lived, well established. In fact, the reason paint styles like impressionism and expressionism came to growth was, because of photography, the “need” for paintings to be close facsimilĂ©’s of real life was no longer there. Painters felt they had much more freedom, since they could answer “well if you want realism make a photo instead” to complaints that their work didn’t look “real”.

  • James

    Wow amazing likeness. Really impressive! The eyes on the photo seem to be fixed at a higher position than on the painting…that’s the only thing i can find to crib about. Well done! Q stream of haters and negative comments about photoshop….

  • Syuaip

    i dont think the video is about how the conversion was done. it’s just steps of selective erase of a top layer.


    “Check out this video that shows how the conversion was done”
    hahaha Have you seen the video before posting?

  • Michael Zhang

    Whoop. Sorry about that mistake. We’ve edited the text. Thanks much!

  • Michael Zhang

    Hmm. Based on how cern described his technique to us, we assumed he had done the recreation by doing a piece by piece replacement as seen in the video

  • Ariel Caudis

    Its not the same look

  • Michael Zhang

    Talked to cern again. You’re right :) we’ve updated the post. Sry about that!

  • harumph

    Amazing. I do have to ask though…what’s up with the backdrop? Is this the final photo, or was the photographer going to crop to the dimensions of the original painting?

  • NewYorkEd

    The painting is fabulous. The photograph is terrible – I see very little resemblance. He is too young looking in the photograph. The suite in the photography is done well – no way near the original painting, but nice anyway.

  • Mansgame

    More derivative “art”.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    Terrible? Really? It’s TERRIBLE?

  • Brian

    The recreated photograph simply is a bit too bright on the sitter’s right side. Note how dark the right side of van Gogh’s face is in the painting. Other than that, it’s a great job!

  • Sonya

    I don’t know.. I don’t buy it.

  • rtfe


  • Josh

    Give credit where credit is due folks.

  • Mijonju

    i love Chilly Gonzales :)

  • juan Arteaga

    I think it is fascinating to watch this process and would make a wonderful exercise/project for art students who are in the process of learning about art and how to transfer their manual art skills to digital art skills using Photoshop techniques. Anything that expands my students skills and imaginations works for me!

  • Sid Ceaser

    “I see very little resemblance”


  • Daniel Jay Bertner

    “The idea came spontaneously – I saw my friend that has ginger hair and beard and thought that it would be very funny to make a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.”

    Deep conceptual stuff.

  • jeremy

    Pretty impressed with this. I’ve seen other derivative art (such as a Van Gogh self portrait with a panda creeping behind him), but I am really impressed with this one.