An Interview with Surreal Photographer Jason McGroarty


Your work ranges from the whimsical to surreal. Which represents you best?

Both my whimsical and more serious/surreal projects mean a lot to me, however my more surreal images tend to have a much more profound concept behind them.




Can you walk us through the “A Place to Go, Please” series?

The original concept was that of Communications Designer, Karen McDermott. She had the idea for some time and when she explained the concept to me I offered my skills.  We wanted to visually communicate the relationship between various drinks cultures and the personalities that are associated with them. In Paris, a lipstick-stained wine glass conjures up a dreamy date night in the French capital, while London pays homage to the typical afternoon tea, enjoying a butter scone over a light read.





Tea - Small

What is your typical manner of producing a project or image?

The concept for an image or project may take me by surprise or could take weeks, months, years to come to fruition. Once I have an idea I tend to break it down into layers, The Concept, The Emotion, The Subject, The Style and The Don’t Over Do It layer….as there is nothing worse that realizing that you’ve over cooked an image, I try my best not to break any of these layers. The most important is normally the emotional layer, I think  photography should evoke some emotion in those who view it and when working on a project of many images, consistent emotional response is key.


The technical skills behind most of my projects are the longest and often the most laborious however I wouldn’t have it any other way. When manipulating an external image onto another, lighting, texture and tones are absolutely key as they must make sense. The moment you view an image, if you are led to question its authenticity or skill, you lose the emotion.

Are you formally trained or self-taught?

I suppose have formally trained myself. There is such a vast pool of information online so I could see no reason to do otherwise. I would spend hours researching information on photography and photographic equipment. I had no camera and no money so I would work really weird jobs just to get my hands on some gear for a few hours. I would research the equipment I would be using so that I knew what I was doing before I even held the camera in my hands. An old friend asked me to take his portrait to give to his family and in return he gave me an old Nikon film camera and some rolls of film. I would venture during various times of the day and night taking photographs, tracking the film reel and the stats of each photo, this gave me a great understanding and respect for the shutter button.  When I finally had my own camera I was ecstatic!

I still shadow other photographers work and spend hours perfecting camera and editing techniques.




Name two major influences in your style of photography.

Kyle Thompson’s extremely expressive nature and Tim Walker’s visual storytelling abilities have inspired me a lot, however to chose only two influences is very hard as I have a huge amount of respect for a lot of photographers out there.


The floral portraits series are decidedly different in black and white. Did you have a particular reason for shooting a very colorful subject in monochrome?

I am a little bit obsessed with making things look balanced in my images, I have spent hours and hours trying to compose perfectly balanced images. Nature seems to have the ability to create objects of symmetric brilliance with such ease and I wanted to capture this by removing the distraction of colour in the images. The Floral Portraits Series is not the only time I have tried to capture this wonder of nature, I have spent days taking pictures of symmetry reflected in nature in an attempt to highlight its impact on man made objects today.








Where do you see your artistry 5 years from now?

I am currently working on a new project combining  surreal image manipulations with fashion portraiture. In the next year I want to move from the streets to the studio and behind the lens full time.

In “Totem”, how did you manage to manipulate the animals’ posing to suit your vision?

I didn’t have to manipulate the animals at all, I wanted them to be seen as they would be in the context of each image and so the hard part came when I had to manipulate the surroundings to suit the unique symbolisms of each animal. Some of the animals featured in Project Totem are looking at you, placing the viewer in the image and others take a more candid approach with the animals acting as they would in their natural surroundings.

Fox - Small

Raccoon - Small

Owl - Small

Buck - Small

Can you run us through your gear?

I was given a Nikon D3200 with a standard 18-55mm for my birthday one year and as my skills increased I dreaded the thought of spending so much money on new gear, so I wanted to prove that you can create amazing images on a budget. During most non-studio shoots, my gear consists of my trusty old D3200, a tripod, h/c reflectors, tape, tinfoil, a flask full of coffee and some music. During bigger shoots I usually work with dual 400w Gemini’s, a tall softbox and some black card here and there.


Your work would indicate that you are a relatively serious, introspective person. Do you have a playful side that you will be revealing through your work?

Sometimes I like to Photoshop my cat floating in space or in various other weird situations…… It may seem crazy but I have discovered some really unusual image editing techniques through this weird past time.



My name is Jason McGroarty, I started as a self trained photographer and swiftly moved into surreal photographic art. With the use of intricate image editing techniques and creative editorial photography my work depicts the ordinary in a new light. I love creating high impact photography, I want my images to grip observers at a glance. Many of my images are location based, making for interesting background content in my projects.


Working on location based shoots has given me a great respect of light and space, I have found myself in strange situations while scouting for these locations. From listening to the clap of my shoes in abandoned hospice wards to trying to cover shutter sounds with a cough during a mass reading, I never really know what to expect from shoot to shoot, I guess it makes my work interesting to watch.

Attila Kun

Attila Kun

Attila is the founder and editor-in-chief of Exposure Guide. He is an avid photographer, graphic designer, bedroom DJ and devoted Mac addict. Attila got his first DSLR camera, a Canon 10D, back in 2003 and he has been hooked on photography ever since.