TED – Erik Johansson: Impossible Photography

Erik Johansson: Impossible photography

Erik Johansson creates realistic photos of impossible scenes — capturing ideas, not moments. In this witty how-to, the Photoshop wizard describes the principles he uses to make these fantastical scenarios come to life, while keeping them visually plausible.

1. Opening Questions:

What do you think of Erik’s photography?

Do you like surrealist art or photography?

What do you think he is trying to say?

Do you like comtemporary art in general?

Can you name a famous comtemporary artist that annoys you?

2. Vocabulary & Phrases.

Discuss the meaning of the following words and phrases:

1. Do you think Hugh Grant is witty?

2. Can you name the boy wizard series that recently just finished?

3. All Ikea products come with a how-to build instruction leaflet, do you need them?

4. The boss said my idea is not plausible, what do you think?

5. To open the bottle press down and twist. Could you show me?

6. The room has a secret trigger hidden in the bookcase. What do you typically do?

7. Every good Sherlock Holmes novel has an unexpected twist in it, what’s the best one?

8. Despite all our best efforts we didn’t manage to win the league.

9. Do you think Barcelona will retain Guardiola next season?

10. How long is a brief moment?

11. I can’t figure out the equation, could you help me?

12. What’s the trick with consistent motivation?

13. What’s your favourite puzzle?

14. In which classic science fiction film do they create an alternate dream reality?

15. His stitching is so good the line is seamless. (to make seamless, the seam). What can’t be seen?

16. They are looking foir the girl by the shore. Where are they?

17. Try to sketch the idea first. Why?

3. You are going to watch a full presentation.

This listening is for general comprehension. Please try to take notes.

Questions 2.

What is required to combine images?

Where was the fish captured?

Where were the shores captured?

Why did he turn the house red?

Where does it always start?

What is the only thing that limits us?

4. Discussion

Erik says that the picture “could exist, but at the same time we know it can’t”, what does he mean?

Do you like visually challenging images like this?

Is it photography?

Is photography just being at the right place at the right time?

In what other ways do we trick our brains?

5. Post class work

This presentation from Ted.com is available with subtitles and we suggest listening 1 time with subtitles and then another time with the English transcript on the right hand side. Make notes of unknown words and phrases and try to guess their meaning from context.

Email question: What was his first passion?

6.Using new vocabulary

Please use the vocab from sections 1 & 2 in the following sentences:

Group 1

Witty, wizard, how-to, plausible, to press, trigger, unexpected twist, despite, to retain

  1. I think it’s important for comedians to be actually ________ and not just use a lot of profanity and bad language.
  2. Pregnant women tend to _________ a lot of water.
  3. There was an fantastic ____________ __________ at the end of the film.
  4. Could you please _______ the button for the 5th floor?
  5. Another bail-out for Greece is simply not __________ .
  6. This weekend I attending a practical __________ workshop for photoshop.
  7. Insecurity in the European bond markets ___________ huge losses on Monday.


Group 2

a brief moment, to figure out, trick, a puzzle, alternate, seam, shore, a sketch

  1. The current system is broken, we really need to _____________ a new effectient system.
  2. Do you know the ______ to open this door?
  3. Is there an _________ route to work?
  4. Let’s go for a long walk along the _________ .
  5. For a ________ ___________ I thought that you were someone else.
  6. My favourite ____________ is a jigzaw.
  7. The policeman showed us a __________ of the thief.

7. Using the new vocab, discuss the following statements:

  You can’t believe any modern photos as being real? Especially in the newspapers.

8.. Post class revision for the week after.

An adjective that means intelligent and funny.

To apply pressure to something, sometimes to flatten.

A male witch

A term that tells you how something is explained.

Seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance

A mechanism that fires a gun or initiates another action.

An unforeseen and unusual change in a story.

In spite of

To maintain possession of something

A very short time

A phrasal verb that means to find a solution to the problem, something a math problem.

A piece of magic or a skill.

A type of game that requires thought or skill to resolve.

The line where 2 pieces are joined.

Where the sea meets land.

A basic drawing of something, verb and noun.

About Author

Justin Donlon

English Teacher & Content Developer Over 15 years of experience in engaging educational content

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