Photog Creates Beautiful Fantasy Worlds in Her Tiny Studio Without Any Photoshop


Some of the most extraordinary photography we’ve run across was created by folks who use little to no Photoshop while capturing incredible photos that seem impossible without some manipulation. A great example of this kind of work is Kirsty Mitchell’s series Wonderland, where all of the costumes and props are painstakingly put together by hand.

Korean artist Lee JeeYoung, however, takes it to the next level. Not only does she eschew digital manipulation entirely, but all of the fantasy worlds she creates have to fit inside her 360 x 410 x 240 cm studio (approximately 12 x 13.5 x 8 feet).

The photos you see here are all part of a series called Stage of Mind, and each scene — from the realistic to the surreal — was created without any photo manipulation whatsoever. They all represent some aspect of Lee’s own journey of self-discovery, and so she appears in each of them as the solitary figure within her own creation.

These “excerpts from her heart, her memory, or her dreams” often take months to capture from start to finish, because all of the decorations have to be created by hand. Here’s a sampling of her work:














Stage of Mind will be presented by the OPIOM Gallery in Opio, France from February 7 to March 7, 2014. Here’s what the gallery had to say about the work:

Her creations act as a catharsis which allows her to accept social repression and frustrations. The moment required to set the stage gives her time to meditate about the causes of her interior conflicts and hence exorcise them; once experienced, they in turn become portents of hope.

To see more from Mrs. Lee JeeYoung, or if you’d like to learn more about some of the individual photos and how they came together, be sure to visit the gallery by clicking here.

(via Photojojo)

Image credits: Photographs by Mrs. Lee JeeYoung and used with permission

  • Jake

    Training all those birds and mice and caterpillars is one thing, but where the hell did she get fresh dinosaur eggs??

  • Alan Klughammer

    I really like this work. Having said that, it brings to mind another discussion I was having on another site. Is this photography, or is it stagecraft?
    Not that it really matters. The final images are great…

  • Ken


  • Josh

    Looks like an excellent example of both to me.

  • Heath Parsons

    I really like this work. But man, that’s a lot of money on supplies

  • harumph

    The gallery addresses this by presenting the exhibit as “photography and sculpture.”

  • Dover
  • Steve Grob

    True, and a lot of storage space for props.

  • Thomas

    Really cool !

  • Stephanie

    I was thinking the same thing. Would love to craft my own scenes. If only I had the funds to do so.

  • Stephanie

    The matches in the sky image was my favorite. They are all beautifully done though!

  • Christian DeBaun

    The props and staging are indeed incredible (as many others have noted).

    But look at the LIGHTING! I’m thinking JeeYoung used all continuous for this, and no instantaneous – but I could be wrong. I’d be curious what the rest of you think.

  • Mike

    Why would it be too different than shooting models in a studio or that crazy pedantic food photography?
    Same thing- lots of work and time goes into “building” what’s in the frame, but we still call it just photography?

  • Stan B.

    Someone really liked Sandy Skolund…

  • elektrojan

    wow! impressing!

  • Don Tusk

    Sandy Skoglund :)

  • Alan Klughammer

    I will give you food photography as often being more sculpture than photography but you still need to be aware of depth of field, lighting, specular vs diffuse highlights, etc. Models generally require more knowledge of light, posing, and interaction. These images, while I really like them, do not seem to be playing with light, angle of view, lens perspective, or any other photographic control, especially when taken as a whole series.
    Again, I would love to see the images, or even better, the original sets. And I would call these ART. Not sure if I would really call it photographic art…

  • Max

    You either use photoshop or you don’t. You don’t ‘whatsoever’ it.

  • Mark Faamaoni

    Well considering these images were taken by a camera, and that cameras take photos, it really isn’t a stretch to call this photographic art. If it were not for a camera: how would you know that this scene had even been created? Of course this is photography, what else could it be?

    On another note: beautiful images First look I wasn’t too sure how I felt, so I walked away then came back and took a closer look: and I love these images. Wonderful work.

  • madmax

    Very good. A lot of imagination invested in these pictures. My favourite: The silkworms.

  • Erik

    Looks like a little too much inspiration was drawb frim a certain renowbed photographer called Sandy Skoglund.

  • alireza

    pretty nice art