#RITphoto is excited to share a post created by one of our students,
Amber Estherpeace Doerr
You can see more of Amber’s work on this link

What is the Collaborative Composite Image?
Composite is a term used to describe a digital manipulation or combination of elements. The collaboration in this course teams photography and three dimensional digital design (3DDD) students together. In short, the photography students photograph an image that will be merged with a computer generated (CG) 3D elements.

RIT’s distinguished photography program helps to give students the skills needed to execute their ideas using photography, but what happens when their imagination exceeds what is possible in a camera? Working with computer generated images, the options become expansive. Susan Lakin, program chair of advertising photography, recognized the importance of exposing photography students to alternative means of visual communication and the realm of computer graphics. She partnered with David Halbstein, an associate professor in 3DDD to create this multidisciplinary class.

I enter this story as the course’s teaching assistant! My primary job was to organize the interdisciplinary teams and help things run smoothly. From the beginning of the course, many students came to me with questions about the assignments and the course that was incredibly open-ended. The joy of the class, I told them was that it allowed an incredible amount of creative freedom…..let your imagination go wild I shared!

Photographer Taylor Monteleone and 3DDD student Tish Khan collaborated to create this image for the movie assignment. I really love this image but I’m biased because I’m the model and that is my dog!

In the beginning of the semester, the students came to a class where “speed dating” was used to make introductions. Of course it was a little strange at first, but questions such as “would you rather be a fish or a bird and why?” got people talking about ridiculous scenarios and soon the room was loud with talking and laughter. The photo students began talking about photographic ideas they had, but never had the ability to produce and the 3DDD students shared some of the models they had created that could be used in a photographic image. I remember one student asking me “what are we actually learning in this class?” I answered “how to communicate your ideas and collaborate with others to reach your intended end goal.”

After everyone became familiar, teams of two or three students were formed and asked  to brainstorm about possible concepts to illustrate. The teams were given a minimum of two weeks to complete their project. The first week was used to photograph the idea and the second week was used to add the 3D digital aspect.

The 3DDD students were encouraged to go to the studio or on location to accompany the photographer during the photo shoot and likewise the photo majors often joined in on the 3D render process, offering feedback and learning software such as Maya.


One of the best questions posed by 3DDD student Victoria Lake when working on her collaboration with Ross Deater, photo student (photo below….yes, that’s me as the zombie wife!) to professors Susan Lakin and David Halbstein that term was: “Would zombie skin be more realistic rotting or hacked?”


Other Student Work:
Photography: Austin Depalma
3DDD: Jared Athias



Photography: Kanghong Zhong
3DDD: Cody Pugliese and Cory Spado

In the past, this class worked with different forms of new digital media, such as augmented reality. The results of this course are as diverse and versatile as the interests of the students.


As the TA, I enjoyed watching the artistic and collaborative process take place. The outcome was only limited by the imagination, skill, and determination of the team. Of course, the teams did not always get along perfectly and there were problems along the way, but I felt that this class was the most helpful in terms of getting “real life” experience in having to sacrifice one’s personal vision for the benefit of the team/end result. This class is a wonderful exploration of artistic communication, collaboration, and imagination.