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What is a Composite Photo and How to Create One

Composites are also used everywhere today–but why? Understand the pros and cons of composite photos and learn how to create one yourself.

Combining two or more photos or images to create one new photo or image is defined as the process of making a composite. Creating a composite photo requires using imaging editing software. Today there are many different types and levels of imaging editing software.

Many people today have played around with common editing software programs. That includes everyone from the novice learning about a popular content editor program to professional graphic editors and production specialists.

While virtually anyone can create a composite photo or composite image, the difference between the hobbyist and the professional is quality. We have all been stopped in our tracks by professional composites. Often, it is because of some impossibly real-looking image that demands our attention.

Was that infant really riding on the back of that Tiger? Did you actually see a real photo of a man doing a one-armed handstand on the corner of a skyscraper? If it is professional composite photography, you probably couldn't tell.

Composites are also used everywhere today. We see funny, shocking, and creative composite images across virtually every medium and channel. That includes social media platforms, business advertisements, and marketing campaigns, among others.

What is a composite photo?

The most basic answer to the question, what is a composite photo, is the combining of two or more images or photos to create a new one. That rudimentary definition, however, is akin to defining a vehicle simply as a mode of transportation.

Yes, these are accurate descriptions, but they leave much to the imagination. These definitions also tell us very little about the subject of the question. So, what is a composite photo exactly? How do you use them? Why do you use them? And maybe more importantly - how do you make them?

Why should you use a composite photo?

On a strictly recreational level, creating composites can be a fun and entertaining activity. Many people have fun just spending hours playing with their favorite photos and getting creative. In the professional realm, however, composite photography is a big business and a big deal.

How you choose to use a composite photo or image depends on how creative you can get. Many companies and brands use composites in media campaigns. Others use composite images to drive their marketing campaigns, raise awareness, or get noticed. This also begins to shed light on the power of composite images and why you should consider using them.

Imagine the picture of the back end of a vehicle hanging out of the second-story window of a home. Visualize a truck climbing straight uphill plowing through three feet of snow as a lightning bolt cracks the sky just inches above the hood.

Why should you use a composite photo? How about using them to remind customers that home and auto insurance is important because you can never predict what's next? How about using composites to tell customers that your new shipment of trucks can tackle any challenge? Why should you use a composite photo? The answer is for any reason you want, like visual branding.

The pros and cons of using composite photos

There is a reason why so many professional marketers and businesses invest in using composite photos.

The pros of using composites

Here is a quick rundown of the pros of using composites.


Engaging customers typically start by getting their attention. A composite photo is another way of saying, "excuse me, ma'am," or "may I have your attention sir." If there is one thing composites excel at, it is at grabbing the attention of your audience.


It doesn't matter what kind of message or what the meaning and purpose behind your composite photo or image is, it is still an attempt to communicate. The saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and if that is true, can you imagine how much you can say with a composite?


Another benefit of composites is they can be used in so many ways. Composite photos and images can also communicate and deliver any message, or promote any product or service. If you are running a marketing campaign, then composite photos and images can help.


Aside from the initial cost of purchasing the software and tools to make composite photos, there is virtually no cost to create them. Many companies reach out to marketing experts or graphic design professionals to create these powerful marketing images within a Content Studio.

The cons of using composites

While there aren't many, here is a look at the potential cons of using composite images.


Using multiple photos or images can begin to step into the legal territory of copyright infringement. While these situations are easy to avoid, anyone without the proper experience or education regarding these issues may risk violating certain laws.

Mixed messages

The fact that more than one photo or image is used inherently introduces the chance of the audience getting more than one message. Skilled marketers and experienced artists generally don't encounter these problems.

Poor quality

Like any marketing tool, poor quality reflects badly on the message and the sender. There is a level of skill and talent to create winning composites. A poorly created composite photo is also a viable risk for any novice. Before you put a composite on the face of your website or social media page, be sure it is professional, polished, and worthy of representing your business and brand.

How to create a composite image

Now that we have discussed and looked at the good, the bad and the ugly of composite photos, you want to know how composite photos and images are made, right? Here is an outline of what goes into creating a composite image.

Plan the images you will need

While it is possible to search out and find the images you use as you go, it is always advisable to try and gather them first. This not only helps with defining and clarifying the message, but it is also helpful for the layout and design process.

If an image is added late and it isn't one of the image file types your software is compatible with, that's a problem. Although most professionals can work around this, it can make the process longer, less efficient, and potentially risk the quality of the final composite image.

Have the proper equipment

If you are adding photos or using a camera, it is worth ensuring you have the proper equipment. That includes concerns such as digital capabilities, attachments, and other necessary equipment.

In addition to the proper equipment, it is also necessary to have good software programs. Taking, collecting, and creating the photos and images you want is only one part of the process. Equally, if not more important, is the editing software that will transform your photos and images into a composite.

Learn composite editing software

The magic of creating composite photos and images typically starts in your imagination. The reality and creation of those images, however, begins with your composite editing software. Programs like Photoshop and Lightroom are common examples of composite editing software.

Professional marketers, graphic designers, and artists have spent years learning how to use the most advanced composite editing software. In the hands of the right artist or creative assistant, imagination is the only limitation to what composite images can create.

Upgrade your social media and website with high-quality photos

If you want to draw people to your website or get them to stay, high-quality photos and images are the most effective tool to accomplish that. From amazing composite photos to composite images that connect with your site visitors, every website is incomplete without engaging aesthetic appeal.

In most cases, you have about three to five seconds to grab the attention of your site visitors. Realistically, that isn't going to happen with great content or practical website designs. What your website needs to gather an audience is images like composite photos that demand an audience.

Another area where it is easy to get lost in the fray is social media. Businesses have the precarious task of blending in and feeling organic, while also finding ways to stand out from the crowd. Composite photos and images are great tools to help your business and brand do both.

Sites like Facebook and Instagram thrive on amazing imagery and photos.

Want to try your hand at creating composites? Could your business or brand use a facelift, makeover, or a splash of excitement? Mailchimp offers the tools, resources, and professional services you need to achieve your advertising goals.

If you want to learn more about how to make composites or would like to discuss Mailchimp's products and features, contact us today to get started. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it one to remember with composite photos and images.

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