Introduction: Exploded Photo Collage

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
Make a photo collage from one single photo so that each little detail from the picture gets its own frame. This way you can turn what would be one simple view of something into a dissected view that encourages more visual exploration.

Thank you to Sony Style for providing me with a Cyber-shot TX7 to make the panorama photo.

Step 1: Take a Photo

This is a panorama I shot in San Francisco. The sculpture is called Human Structures and it was made by Jonathan Borofsky.

Unlike a regular photo with one exposure, this photo was made by stitching a series of photos together by panning the Cyber-shot TX7's camera view across a scene (other Sony cameras also have this feature). To be honest, I wasn't expecting much of the feature, called iSweep, since I'm a little bit of a lens geek, but the results are pretty good. The camera easily fits in a pocket and with this feature you can more easily capture the feeling of an environment. If the best camera is the one you have on you, this is a worthy contender.

The only problem: what do you do with a panorama photo? You could get it printed up, which is a small hassle. But then you'd have to find a custom frame for it, which is a big hassle. My solution is to explode, or break up, the photo into multiple pieces and reconstruct it later.

So let's destroy this thing.

Step 2: Plan It Out

I took the picture into Photoshop and planned out what sections of the photo I wanted to print out. My photo frame is the Ram from IKEA. They're cheap at just $2 for a pack of 3. I recreated the dimensions of the Ram frame and then copied this frame 11 more times for the dozen frames I have to use.

Now it's just a matter of moving the virtual frames around the picture to get good coverage. I set up three groups since I wanted to have three layers on the final collage.

Step 3: Export Images

I made two more files: one for the portrait pics and one for the landscape. Since the Ram frame cuts off 5/8" of the photo in each dimension, I set up guides to show the visible area.

Then I dropped in the picture and repositioned it so that it matched up with one of the pictures from the original layout.

Once the picture was in place I exported the resulting image.

Repeat for the rest of the pictures.

Step 4: Print Up Pictures

Print the photos on your own printer or at any other photo printer online. There are plenty out there and 4x6s are cheap to print.

Step 5: Layer It Up!

Start piling up the photos. Don't worry about making the photos line up. In fact, it's much better if they're off. It makes for some fun repetition of elements and a disruption in the image.

Step 6: Glue It Together

I used Gorilla Glue to attach all of the frames. With the pile the way you want it, carefully pick up one picture, apply glue to the bottom and stick it back down. Repeat until everything is stuck togther.