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Can You See What’s Special About These Portraits?

Take a look at these portraits and see if you can tell what you’re actually looking at.

In an age saturated with aspiring digital photographers, you’d be forgiven for insisting you were looking at the works of one. However, each and every one of these images is, in fact, a painting!


Artist Yigal Ozeri - hailing from Israel – is responsible for painting these incredibly detailed yet totally surreal oil portraits. To the casual viewer, there is nothing to signify that these were painted rather than photographed. In fact, many of the images look like they’re taken straight from a gypsy travel photographer who frequents the #wanderlust hashtag on Instagram.

The lifelike element of his paintings is absolutely fascinating. They look exactly like digital images – complete with shallow depth of field. The attention to detail is really quite mind-blowing; he has managed to capture bokeh, overexposure on a blonde subject’s hair, and motion the way a DSLR would. Huffington Post even praised his work to be of "cinematic scale […] capturing ethereal women who’d seem more at home in some distant, cosmic utopia."

And here's the man himself at work...

The man himself at work

Be sure to check out his website if you’re still in disbelief!

All images courtesy of Yigal Ozeri Studio.

[via Messy Nessy]

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Dec Murphy's picture


Andrew Strother's picture


Will Gavillan's picture


robertc's picture

Only two of them struck me as slightly "off" but I was looking for it and never would have noticed otherwise. These are absolutely amazing.

filmkennedy's picture


Bert McLendon's picture

These are awesome! Would love to check out the exhibition some time. There is another guy that goes for hyper-realism in his stuff, his name is Dru Blair. It's insane a the level of detail he gets. He also teaches at his own school with his main focus on his color theory. Crazy stuff.

Sergio Tello's picture

Lots and lots of patience.

Tom Lew's picture

wow. completely got me... they're incredible. Also i was definitely looking for signs of alcoholism at first when you said "see if you can tell what you’re actually looking at."

Christos Dikos's picture


Ben Perrin's picture

That is a lot of talent and hard work! Kudos Yigal Ozeri!

B In SEA's picture

I read an article recently about Star Wars Rogue One and how the computer renderings of young Leia and Tarkin are very good, but still look artificial. I understand the intricacies of movement can be difficult to replicate, but even in stills from the film they look fake.

So why is this painter so much better than the experts with billion dollar budgets and supercomputers?

And T's picture

In terms of the stills, the computer rendered images from Rogue One is produced for 24 frames a second so 10 seconds of film needs 240 images, the way this guy works he must spend ages on perfecting each image. Looking at the image of him working, it looks like he's just copying directly from a photograph instead of building from nothing. (you can see it taped to the painting)
But for me, the biggest issue when watching the film was the movement. It adds a whole new level of subconscious clues about how skin moves, the weight of the person, the movement of the eyes, etc. (also, I think billions is a bit of a exaggeration.)

Zach Werner's picture

Sort of reminds me of Chuck Close's early work. Incredible.

Charles Gaudreault's picture

Mind blowing

Eric Schwab's picture

They're all amazing except for the last one of the old man. It clearly looks like a painting.

james johnson's picture


romain VERNEDE's picture

Great but what's the point doing paintings to replicate reality?
photography use to mimic painting (see early portraits) and now painters mimic photographs...
Do they paint after their own imagination or do they replicate a photograph?

Deleted Account's picture

Having the ability to paint hyper-real images of reality is very helpful in painting imaginary things that look real as well. Creating fantasy worlds, people, etc. In general, it's the ability to really see and understand the detail of light, shadow, and color and to use it. That takes some practice...

romain VERNEDE's picture

I agree , but it look likes this paintings are the final product here and not a "draft" or pre work sketch..
Do you think you go further by copying a photograh? You take what's in it as the job is already done

Deleted Account's picture

How do you propose that a hyper-realist painter practice and learn the techniques necessary to actually perform this work except by doing from reference? This is a skill and a skill requires dedicated practice. Are you assuming that the sum total of his work is displayed here?

romain VERNEDE's picture

I don't assume anything, I just ask myself questions about hyper realistic paintings... Are thoose paintings practice work? Do I have to show all my practice work as a photographer to show my skill or value? What if your art is difficult to do but the result is as good as other artistic means would have rendered but more easily?

Deleted Account's picture

Does it matter if they're practice work or intended for sale? Almost any art form might be achieved through other means. I could, for example, use computer guided machine precision to sculpt stone from 3D images created through photographic work. Does that mean that a traditional sculptor using chisels and hammers is wasting his time? How about computer generated music? Why learn finger movements on a guitar when a computer can do it for you?

What you can't do with a camera is create realistic-looking images of something that does not exist. He can and, to go back up the thread a little, I don't know that all of those images are created from photographs as precise replications. Many artists use reference photos to help with light, general form, etc, without exact copying. Even if they are precise copies, the ability to recreate that precision in paint allows for doing the same for other subjects that aren't photographs.

In the end, though, if you don't see the point, then you don't. I've tried to explain it, but then again, I enjoy painting, drawing, and other fine arts as a hobby, so maybe it's more obvious to me as a result.

romain VERNEDE's picture

I don't want to know if it's hard to do...Only the result counts for me...Here paintings don't show anything a camera wouldn't easily do...Girls posing, looking away...
I do wet plate collodion and it's quite hard to achieve, but if my image is boring then it's just a boring image done with a complicated technique...
Don't get me wrong, his paintings are nice, nice girls, nice pose, nice surroundings...

Deleted Account's picture

There's a lot of fine art artists who would dismiss your use of the camera as not being art. They're wrong, but I think you're wrong also. You may see his work as boring, but given the sheer scope of the interest his work garners, there are quite a lot that don't see it that way.

For me, being able to examine the brush strokes, the layering, the color blending are anything but boring. I can appreciate the skill, the challenge of mixing colors and medium, and the many layers that are needed to bring these images to where they are. This, to me, is art and it's quite spectacular.

So, again, I ask the question... Why do any art when technology exists to do it easier? When you realize the answer to that, then perhaps you'll get it. Until then, I guess you'll not find this kind of work interesting. To each their own.

romain VERNEDE's picture

layers, brush strokes, color blending...are juste technical stuffs.
As long as you focus on good technique you (he)may be a good or even a Master craftsman, when you get over technical aspects you touch art...Artisan VS Artist. but again it's just my opinion and it doesn't lower his qualities...

Deleted Account's picture

Yes, and computer programming is only typing...

romain VERNEDE's picture

you're stuck in technique, I as said I don't care about the means, I just look at the result...

Deleted Account's picture

Sorry, this discussion has become pointless.

David Reece's picture

Simple...what he is painting does not exist. He is creating something from his mind that a camera cannot capture...the subject does not exist. He is an artist that paints what is in his mind. He is not a photographer, and even if he was, his results are pure fantasy. That is the beauty of it. He is bringing images to life that otherwise could not live.

Kirk Darling's picture

And that is also why I prefer photography for portraiture. Even when heavily retouched, people still feel a measure confidence that the person they see in a photograph was actually a living, breathing human.

Will Rogers's picture

It is still a skill. Perhaps the photographers ask him to replicate their photos?
Also, it might be a one off project for an exhibition, and then he goes back to painting original work?

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Remarkable work.

jon snow's picture