When the word photo illustration first came up I was confused and not able to put a specific picture in my mind of what one would look like.
My first thought was that they looked something like a cartoon, then my brain traveled to the pictures of a toy in the corner with a lot of shadows to represent sadness in the child’s life and then I found out what it actually is.
Photoillustration is a made picture constructed to make a point.
Sometimes story topics, such as child abuse, can be difficult to photograph so photographers set-up the scene and paint the picture for the reader without using anything real.
Another reason to use photo illustration is to make a picture of something that would be hard to capture, like people being hassled by telemarketers. Instead of frantically watching someone answer the phone and hope for an angry face you can show someone with an angry face and tons of phones around them.
Photo illustration can be subtle or blunt, it just has to get the point across.
A great tool for photo illustration is Photoshop, and I just happen to have some great tips for using it.
While taking the pictures for your layers keep light in mind, it will look pretty odd if your person has dark lighting and in the background there is no cloud to be found.
When photographing singular objects it is easier to photograph them with a white background, for cutting out the shape.
There are no ethical issues with illustration except to keep copyright in mind at all times.
Now you too know a little bit about photo illustration.