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Two of my favourite people in the world asked me a long time ago to photograph a particular tree for their loungeroom wall. It was a simple request, but sometimes I find complicated is easier than simple.

It took me 18 months, about 10 gigabytes of files and over 100 layers in photoshop just to photograph a tree, partly because I see that wall a lot and wanted to be proud of what I put there, partly because the idea took on a bit of a life of it’s own and sometimes these things are harder to stop than to start, but mostly because life gets in the way of these types of projects. It’s been a big 18 months in general for me and for the family and this image has been bubbling along in the meantime, but they’ve been incredibly patient, and I hope it’s been worth the wait.

They picked this particular tree because it represents their family walks in the nearby park, so I tried to play with the theme of family and eventually settled on … as simple as it now sounds … a “family tree”, including their close mates as part of their broader family. I wanted to give them something that their kids could enjoy and could keep finding something new in for years hopefully, so I’ll only know if it was successful when I ask the kids in a few years time. There are some parts of the overall image which are very clear and will make sense to a three year old, and hopefully the other more subtle parts will take the boys longer to find and will prompt a million questions for mum and dad in the meantime (like “Dad, what is that weird picture on our wall?”). hehe

To help explain the idea to Tom and Liz, I started capturing each step of the process so they’d know which pictures were used, and these steps became the slideshow below. I’m certainly not the first person to combine images in a collage or even to make a slideshow of the process, but I love how this has turned out, so I thought I’d share.