Cloning Photography Through Layer Masking in 3 Easy Steps

Like any other art form, photography uses deception to captivate its audience. A photographer uses technical knowledge to control and capture ambient light from the angles they see fit.

Software algorithms have developed to such an extent that even with basic knowledge of photo editing software, photographers these days are able to create surreal effects in their images.

One such simple effect is called cloning. This is a lovely effect and it usually gets amazing reactions from people who see it.

How does it work?

Cloning photography is the process of capturing duplicates or doppelgangers of a subject in one single frame. Best part about cloning photography is that it can be used in many creative ways to create even a complex scene with many characters involved in it, where all the characters are just one subject.


You will require to setup a few things to make your cloning shot.

  1. Camera: To get started, just about any camera will do. Even a simple point and shoot will work just fine.
  2. Tripod: It’s a must, no compromise here. If not a tripod, make sure you have some hard stable surface on which you can position your camera.
  3. Photoshop: This or any other software where you can work with layer masking.


All set? Great. Let’s get clicking.

  1. Visualize your scene: A lot of amateur photographers create successful cloning shots but they fail to create a scene. Rather than shooting your subject standing or sitting next to their doppelgangers, cloning photography will create a better impact on your audience if a candid scene is created with your subject. For example, a group of friends having a conversation. Also, try to get your subject to pose in such a way that the positions overlap.
  2. Set up your tripod: Once you have your scene ready, compose your frame and fix the camera on your tripod. Take a few sample shots of the scene to dial in the right settings for desired exposure on your camera.
  3. Click images: Ask your subject to take their first position and then take their picture. Now, ask them to move to their next position. Then without disturbing the position of the camera or the tripod, snap your second picture. Again, wait for the subject to move to the next position and then click another picture. Repeat this process until you have all the pictures that you need to complete your scene.


We will start with importing our images in Photoshop. It’s ok if you have shot them in JPEG but if you have shot them in RAW, import them all at once to simultaneously make RAW adjustments in Photoshop.

At this point it’s best if you only make basic adjustments. Once you are done with the cloning part, you can move on to other editing steps like split toning or black and white in the final image.

For today’s example we will try to create an everyday living room scene. So first, I will take different images of the subject, keeping him seated at various positions doing various things.

cloning, photoshop, irfan, hussain, shaw academy

With these 4 different images, we will try to create this cloned image with all the doppelgangers of the same subject all present in the same scene.

cloning, shaw academy, irfan hussain, photoshop

Layer masking

You know how a mask works, right? It has holes in it through which it allows the wearer to see and breathe. These holes also let you see the eyes, nostrils and in some cases, t