It takes a perfectionist to catch every minute detail on an image with a magnifying glass. Every pixel counts.

But Mike Campau goes beyond perfectionism. He takes a photographer’s picture and uses his imaging skills to transform it into frozen-in-time moments of virtual, altered, or heightened reality. His creative process begins with an idea that can evolve in unpredictable ways, and sometimes leads to surprising results.

“Some of my ideas unexpectedly pop up during the strangest times, like when I am jogging, driving or dreaming,” he says. “My mind wanders and the idea takes shape, is transformed and sometimes goes in a direction not initially planned. And many times, I have been known to scrap everything and start all over again if it’s not right.”

Yes, a true perfectionist.

In more than 15 years of creating powerful hybrid imagery that combines photography, CGI, and Photoshop techniques, Campau has become a bit of a chameleon. He may call on his large network of artists or work alone, depending on the mood, the project or his inspiration. “The objective is to come up with well-designed images that have impact and stay true to the brand we represent,” he says.

Campau, who lives near Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA), was previously creative director and lead artist at SeventhStreet studio, specialists in retouching and design, before venturing out on his own. He has worked with celebrities and collaborated with artists and creative agencies on advertising campaigns for well-known brands.He also creates images just for fun.

Campau transforms an already attractive image taken by a photographer into a captivating and eye-catching blend of fantasy and reality. Sometimes this means making subtle color changes. Sometimes it leads to wild transformations using complex CGI enhancements. Always, the result is anything but cliché.

In his work, Campau seems to break all the rules of conventionality. He does, however, adhere to some basic truths. “Never be afraid to try things; there’s always an undo button,” he says. “Trust your instincts. If your gut says it isn’t right, then it probably isn’t right. And most important, love what you do and do what you love.”


Visit Campau’s website to see a follow-up series to his popular “Motion in Air.” Combining the talents of famous sports and action photographer Tim Tadder with the fluidity of dancers orchestrated by choreographer Nathan Kim, the resulting images are virtual sculptures cleverly enhanced by Campau using Photoshop and CGI. Each shape is unique, based on the dancer’s personality, style, and movements in the air.

Motion in Air

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