For a digital manipulation class I had this past fall, we were assigned to create a surreal portrait.
To start the project I came up with an idea for an image and photographed a plate. In this case, the plate ended up being a composite of four different frames.
In order to keep things easy, I placed the camera on a tripod and a large beauty dish in the right corner of the room on another tripod. This would then make the background and lighting uniform for all the images so when I started piecing the images together they all would match lighting wise.
After the plate was finished, I went onto compositing in the hat, books, and typewriter. Each element was photographed individually then manipulated either with size and/or direction to create depth and realism.
Next was the atmosphere. I started off using a fog machine, but the fog wasn't dense enough and just created a haze. As a result I went ahead and ditched that idea and went ahead and did it in photoshop. If you want to know how I made the fog you can watch this Phlearn tutorial HERE.
After the fog was done, I just played with the levels, curves, and gradients to create the final feel of the image.