Photographer Anna Angenend spent the first few years of daughter Mia's life photographing the funny-but-stressful moments of motherhood. But, as her daughter began to move from the toddler years to become an imaginative pre-schooler, the Texas mom says she wanted to focus more on capturing her daughter's wild imagination.
"One morning several months ago, Mia said to me, 'My yellow monster is kind of scary,' Angenend told TODAY Parents. "Later in the day, she told me, 'He's not so scary, he just needs a friend.' This was the first time she had talked about an imaginary friend...at three years old, her imagination and creative play has really soared and I wanted a new photo series to capture this part of her childhood."
So Angenend teamed up with illustrator and mom of four Amy Snyder to create images of kids playing with their imaginary friends. The series captures kids taking baths with monsters, caring for baby dragons and making mischief with their made up pals, and is created with a mix of real-life images and Photoshop magic.
"I shoot the images first," said Angenend. "The background and furniture is all real...I pick the best shot and e-mail the file to Amy for her to sketch the monster and their accessories. Then, Amy scans her illustrations and e-mails them to me so I can sprinkle some Photoshop fairy dust on them. I'm not sure how else to explain it without getting too technical."
Angenend says she and Snyder plan to continue adding more kids and monsters to the series, and have even toyed with the idea of putting their monsters into a children's book.
"It is fun to show the children the finished photo and watch their reaction," said Angenend. "Of course, we'll never know exactly what the monsters look like in their imaginations. Mia was confused at first when I showed her the yellow monster. She looked at the image for a second with a 'How did he get there?' expression, then shouted, 'Yeah, that's my Zasby!'"