A Winning Combination

Delightful Series of Juxtaposed Images that Ooze Fun

They say the devil makes work for idle hands but perhaps the spirit of creativity makes work for idle minds. For advertising veteran Stephen McMennamy, it was in a moment of boredom that he found a spark of inspiration for his irresistible Combophotos. “I was just mulling through photos on my phone, specifically pictures of my daughter from her 4th birthday,” Stephen recalls.

“There was a photo of her with a big smile on her face and another photo of a pink balloon. I took both photos into an app called PicFrame (a photo collage app) and I just started to mess with what was there.” And so started a long-running love affair with splicing incongruous images together to make witty, crude and sometimes outrageous assemblages that ooze fun.

Stephen’s most successful pieces usually riff on ridiculous contrasts of scale, especially where food is concerned. “It’s no secret American’s love huge portions. I’m calling that out a bit, but doing it in a fun way.”

We tore Stephen away from his passion for a few moments to give us the lowdown:

The Plus: How did this all begin?
Stephen McMennamy:
The image of my daughter and the balloon definitely got me thinking in the combophoto direction, but my first concerted effort (that falls more in line with what I’m doing now), was of a banana and the empire state building. I just so happened to have those two things in front of me at the same time, I did the edit on the spot and it instantly got me wondering what else was out there that I could experiment with.

TP: You’re active on Instagram, what appeals to you about it?
There’s an endless amount of creativity to be discovered on that app. I saw a lot of people expressing themselves in so many unique ways. I’ve always wanted a more pronounced voice when it comes to my own creativity and I feel like that app has given me the voice I’d been looking for.

TP: How do you source your images?
If I need an image I just go out there and hustle, I find what I need and shoot it. sometimes I’ll find images in my photo library that wasn’t intended as a combophoto, that I can turn into a combophoto. I’ll also randomly shoot machines, tools, objects that I find interesting, knowing that I might be able to turn it into something later, but I’ll sit on the image until I find the right piece to complete the puzzle.

TP: Is putting them together laborious?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I’m amazed at the things that may look complicated and end up being easy, but more often than not, I’ll go into one of these photos thinking I can knock it out easily, only to find spending days working on something i thought would only take hours.

TP: Where do you see this going?
I just plan to keep it going as long as I can, and I’d love to have it turn into more than a hobby.