Double Exposures: A DIY Project That Brings Friends Together With Photos!

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We love hanging out with our friends, and we’ve had a great summer full of lunches in the park, guests from around the globe, and days off at the beach.

With summer winding down, we have a lot less beach days in our future, and no out-of-town guests scheduled to sleep on our couch.

…That’s a problem for us.

Naturally, we tried to fix the problem with photos.

Were we successful? Of course!

Our solution is a fun project that you can make with anyone you choose, whether they share a dorm room with you or live halfway across the world.

How To Collaborate With Friends Using Double Exposures

p.s. We heard Facebook is a good place to make friends (and stare at each other’s faces). Sooo…“Like” us!

so, why double exposures?

beforeA double exposure happens when two pictures get exposed on the same frame of film. The result is a beautiful blend of both scenes overlapping.

We already love making double exposures solo, and this method makes it a special project to share with friends.

Do I need a lot of stuff or a fancy camera?

beforeNope! In fact, the ingredients list is pretty short and sweet. You’ll want:

  • A buddy to collaborate with
  • Two 35mm cameras (or one to share)
  • A roll of 35mm film (200-400 ISO is best)

If you don’t have a 35mm camera, no big deal! You can do double exposures digitally, too! (We have some tips and links for you at the end of this article.)

Step 1: Plan it out

Before you shoot, you and your partner should decide if you want your photos to follow a theme.

Choosing themes can be a fun way to see how you and your friends look at the same things differently.

A theme could be any rule for shooting the film, such as:before

  • Food
  • My favorite things
  • My city
  • Summer activities
  • Up side down, right side up
  • Textures & shapes
  • Ground & sky
  • Night & day

You’ll also get fantastic results just by shooting without any rules at all!

Step 2: Shoot!

Once you’ve made your decision, load the film in your camera and make some pictures!

You can shoot it just as you would normally, and you’ll be shooting all the way to the end of the roll (usually 24-36 exposures).

When you hand the film off to your friend, you’ll want it to have the film tab (called the “Film Leader”) sticking out of the canister for them.

If you have a manual camera, you might be able to control how far you rewind the film by carefully listening to your camera as you rewind it. Ater winding most of the roll, listen for the sound of the film releasing from the camera’s film spool. That’s the perfect time to stop rewinding!
(Many rolls of film have been light leaked this way, so be careful!)

If your film gets rewound all the way, any film lab can help you get it back out again and ready to go. Just tell them you need the film leader pulled out so that you can use the film again. They’ll know exactly what to do (and should do it for free!).

Step 3: Send it on its way

Pass the film on to your friend with a set of directions (or just send them a copy of this tutorial!).

Remind them of the theme, and stick a label on the roll with tape.

(If you’re mailing it: you might want to write: “Film: Do not X-Ray” on the envelope just to be safe)

Step 4: Getting it developed

We think it’s a good idea to get this film developed at a nice photo lab, (they’re usually more familiar with experiments) but the drugstore 1-hour photo is just fine too.

Tell the photo lab that it’s double exposed when you drop it off, so they know what to expect when it develops.

Because the exposures that you and your partner made could be overlapping in fun ways, you can request that the lab not cut your negatives. This way you’ll have more control over the finished product in case the lab doesn’t crop the photos the exact way you want them to.

(They can still make prints and scans of your roll without cutting the film)

Step 5: Enjoy & share with friends

You’ll be surprised how often photos line up perfectly even when you and a friend are both shooting without a theme!

We made all the double exposures on this page by trading a double shot camera and a roll of film without choosing a theme. Check out our Double Exposures flickr set if you want to see more!

Now you’ve got a photo project that not only looks awesome, but is also a true collaborative art piece. Share it online and get even more people involved!

Still want to do more?

  • Combine cameras like the double shot camera with other toy cameras. Shoot half of it underwater. Why not try out every camera combo you’ve got?
  • Try planning specific shots for an entire roll, and see how they line up. Shoot your favorite food on #11! Take a self portrait when you get to #24!
  • Don’t have a 35mm cam? Try arranging a special time or plan to take digital photos with your friend, then combine them using image editing software instead! Simply layer one image over the other and make it slightly translucent. A short instructional is here.
  • For some digital doubles inspiration, take a look at Phillip Maisel’s “A More Open Place” series. Phillip uses a digital camera and long exposures to make composites of the photos he sees as he scrolls through Facebook photo albums.
  • If you and your film swapping partner are far apart, try making double exposures that put you both in the same frame! Make rules like: “on shot #5, sit on the left side of a couch” and see if you can get your photos to line up when they develop!
  • Use color filters over your lens for unexpected colors in your results. Have both friends shoot with color filters for even weirder results
  • The flickr group Film Swap is full of great examples, the members swap film from around the world and share the photos in the group pool!
  • Still want more? These flickr groups are all full of great photos and helpful hints: Double Exposure, Fisheye Double Exposures, Cross Processed Double Exposures,
    Holga Double Exposures, and Digital Double Exposures
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    You love love, and you love it big time. So, go BIG this Valentine’s Day.

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    What are you waiting for?


    Three Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Using Photos

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    Check out four easy costume ideas that’ll get you all the best candy (full size only).

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