Have you ever noticed a pattern in photography? ... And by a pattern of course I mean the same technique done by tons of photographers? Maybe I'm just living in a bubble, and I only really see images that are in my "niche" (if I have such a thing), but very often I see the same thing done over and over and over again. Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn't mean you have to do it too ... BUT it certainly does not mean that you can't or shouldn't do it!
Earlier this week I was having a lovely chat with one of my long time internet-photo-friends Sarah Allegra, in which we were discussing our love for the opening credits of True Detective. If you haven't watched the show GET ON IT! At least do so much as to watch the opening credits, because they are a god damn work of art. Essentially they consist of a series of wonderfully crafted double exposure shots. If you haven't already gathered where I'm going with this post, allow me to clue you in. It seems as though SO many photographers are doing double exposure images these days. (I don't necessarily think there is a direct link to the awesomeness of the True Detective credits, but it's definitely what made me want to try it!)
Sarah and I were discussing how we think it would be a really fun technique to mess around with, but it just seems like everyone is doing it and wouldn't the image just get lost in the sea of double-exposure-heads-fading-into-cityscapes-or-forests? We both wanted to take a stab at it, but didn't know if it would be a "hack" move, like we were just going along with the crowd. Finally I said, "Screw it, I'll do one if you do one!" So we took on the challenge together and I couldn't be more pleased with what came of it.
Now, if you are reading this and thinking, "Hey there Robert, I've done a few double exposure images ... I'm not a hack, am I?" Nope, my dear reader, not in the slightest. Here's how I see it. If EVERYONE and their mother (hi mom!) is doing something, then guess what ... it's probably something really fun to do!! Plus, if images produced using the double exposure technique weren't gorgeous visual poetry, then people would probably stop making them. Sure, maybe it's one of the "in things" to do right now, but who ever said you shouldn't keep up with the current trends? Trends are trends for a reason, people like them and they want more...so give it to them!! (You know, if you want. No pressure if double exposures just aren't for you.)
Last I checked, girl standing in nature with her hair majestically blowing in the wind and a giant expanded flowing dress was one of the "in things to do," but you don't see that stopping me from creating that very image all the time. The thing is, if I'm going to try a technique that I've seen dozens of times, I'm going to do my best to put my own twist on it. You can do whatever technique your heart desires no matter how "overplayed" it might be, as long as you enjoy the process and create something that is uniquely you. The final product from my little experiment, "The Fall and the Flames," isn't the typical double exposure shot (at least I don't think so?) and I'm totally fine with that.
I had been working on this other picture (one that involves a girl with flowing hair and a huge dress, go figure) for a long time, but it had been giving me lots of trouble in editing and I was getting rather frustrated with it. Trying out a double exposure picture was the perfect excuse to "set my other image up on the shelf" for a bit and try something totally different. (Don't worry - you'll see that shelved image at a later date.) I'm so very pleased that Sarah and I challenged each other to take this on, because I had so much fun playing with the double exposure technique. (Also, I can't wait to see what Sarah comes up with!)
If you haven't done one already, I highly recommend you give this technique a try. It really is cool how easy it is, and it's quite entertaining to mess around with all kinds of different images - experimenting with what looks cool laid over what. Essentially you are just playing with blending modes - I mostly used "screen;" it's pretty darn simple. I'm not going to go into much more detail on how to do it other than that, because there are already countless videos out there that explain how to achieve this look perfectly. So do yourself a favor, flex your googling-muscle and see what tutorials and videos you soak up before you give this a try.
One last thing before you're off to overlap some pretty pictures and create your own totally awesome double exposure shot ... Take a look at some of the astoundingly awesome double exposure masterpieces created by my buddy Chris Rivera. He really nails it every time he does one (or any kind of image really). The way he uses texture, color and light is ... how you say ... on fleek ... ? (Yeah, I said it.) If these don't make you want to try out your own double exposure, then I don't know what will. (Oh and be sure to follow him on instagram where he's a total boss and is constantly uploading all kinds of awesome images!!!)
(All images in the slideshow are by Chris Rivera.)