We’ve come a long way from the picturesque in our visions of the natural world. Artists are no longer bound by reality when it comes to depicting nature in the digital realm and photographers today are digging deep to uncover new ways to picture the environment. One of 2016’s major creative trends predicted by Getty Images global creative team, Surreality is a visually compelling deconstruction of daily realities. More and more artists are choosing to express the world with a surreal lens, embracing both the personal and the subjective.

 “Hyper-immersive, psychedelic visuals appeal to a global audience by transcending genres,” Getty Images Art Director Lauren Catten said. “In an age where technology is removing the serendipity of discovery, quirky compositions reignite the pleasure we feel in experiencing the unexpected.”

A pioneer in the unexpected, Japanese photographer Hiroshi Watanabe’s conceptual photographs blend nature, culture and technology. Using 3D modeling software and images from Google earth, the Getty Images photographer conjures surreal digital land and planet-scapes skinned with marbled steak and pork. In these fantasy vistas the entire world is made from what comes from the inside.

Credit: Hiroshi Watanabe

“I must’ve been hungry when I saw pictures of Jupiter. The planet’s patterns looked like delicious bacon,” Watanabe said. “So then, this particular idea came to me: using meat as material, it could be interesting, and different, if I mixed the concepts of nature and adventure.”

Credit: Hiroshi Watanabe

In Watanabe’s Foodscapes series, the contrast of these ideas playing off each other makes a humorous expression of both fascination and revulsion.

Credit: Hiroshi Watanabe


Credit: Hiroshi Watanabe

More nature and tech hybrids are to be found in Watanabe’s kaleidoscopic flower images, where organic forms create architectural patterns that repeat with mathematical precision. To achieve the mosaic-like effect, he used a meticulous approach to get the look just right.

Credit: Hiroshi Watanabe

“I sampled images of colorful flowers from a spring flower bed,” Watanabe said. “I then used a 3 DCG application to make a surrealistic kaleidoscope, considering the combination of colors, forms and aesthetics.”

Credit: Hiroshi Watanabe


As a group, Watanabe’s photographs can be seen as reflections on the complexity of modern life, reorienting us in a new and strange landscape, where boundaries are markers, but no longer barriers.


Explore more surreal takes on nature at Getty Images