Photographer seamlessly combines unlikely items into one cohesive picture


Two is better than one -- it's true when problem solving, when ordering scoops of ice cream and in this case, when combining two unlikely items into one cohesive image.

Stephen McMennamy has worked in advertising for nearly two decades and one day discovered himself missing the "making" side of the business and that's how his clever "combophotos" came to be. He was inspired by the content he was seeing on Instagram and ended up honing his unique technique seemingly by accident.

"I was playing with a collage app on my phone and I took two old photos from my daughter's birthday -- her face and a balloon -- and I combined the two. That was the start of it all and after that I felt like the flood gates opened up," McMennamy said.

McMennamy combines everything from a pineapple and a grenade to a bowling ball and a cherry into images in which it's often difficult to discern where one item stops and the other begins. The process begins with tests on his iPhone. He then transitions to his camera and Photoshop to make the final product. While many of the combinations could be made from stock images, the majority are all shot by McMennamy, which is an aspect of his art that he goes to great lengths to accomplish.

"Last fall I really wanted a shot of a bridge (to pair with the body of a guitar), which I'm sure I could've found through stock, but I thought it would be a hell of a lot more fun to dangle out of a helicopter rather than searching for photos online," McMennamy added.

There's much to be said about seeing the world through a child's eyes. Combing a paint brush and spaghetti or headphones and donut may seem farfetched to an adult -- but to a child, that likely sounds more feasible. That's one of the things McMennamy taps into when creating his combophotos.

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The combinations are all fun to look at, but some can also take on a bigger meaning -- like the vices of fast food french fries and a pack of cigarettes. McMennamy says the overall message is mostly about connections and once the combinations are out there it's really up to the viewer to interpret them as they wish.

"Some connections can be totally abstract, some can reinforce the notion of overindulgence, some suggest we are out of control with food and portion sizes, some call out how much human design is inspired by nature, but mostly it's fun to try and look at the world through the lens of connecting things that otherwise would never be connected," he said.

McMennamy would love to one day turn his combophotos into sculptures. But until then, there is still a long list of combinations he wishes to tackle.

"I'm chasing after images all the time and I get whatever I can get," he said.

Make sure to check out the slideshow above, which includes unique stories from McMennamy about how specific combophotos came to fruition.