How Double Exposure Photographers Fuse Two Separate Worlds into One Dreamlike Scene

Digitally Producing Double Exposure

Digital tools have made it easier than ever to create double exposure images. Although they might be more accessible (there are smartphone apps that’ll produce the effect), there’s still a level of skill and artistry involved in creating them.

One popular method is bringing two separate images into software like Photoshop. By playing with each layer's opacity and digitally blending and merging layers, there’s no painting or erasing necessary. But for those that prefer to work within the camera, there are many DSLRs whose settings allow you to create multiple exposures on the same image.

Photographer Erkin Demir uses digital techniques to create his minimalist compositions. A departure from traditional portraiture, the human body is merged with elements of architecture and nature in one brilliant silhouette. “After shooting the portrait and the background,” he explains to us in an email. “I use two different techniques when creating my works.”

Multiple Exposure Photos

Photo: Erkin Demir

One technique involves negative space. “Basically, it requires a silhouette like portrait with some highlight parts on the face/body. The background image(s) should also have defined silhouettes, so when you blend them the background image replaces the portrait's darker parts. This is the most common technique when creating double exposure images.”

The second approach is more straightforward; Demir refers to it as gradient. “Basically, it's a portrait and the background with an elegant transition between them.” Both will produce unique images, so determining which one to use all comes down to personal preference.

Multiple Exposure Photos

Photo: Erkin Demir

Multiple Exposure Photos

Photo: Erkin Demir

When asked how he makes the different images work in harmony, Demir offers poetic insight. “I think they have to complement each other well. In a way, you are tearing apart the portrait by changing some of its parts with another image.” Continuing, “However, there are countless of ways to complete the missing parts. that's the beauty of it.” The process is largely trial and error—combining different images, changing their size, angles, and more. But, the longer you work at it, you develop a sense of what will work. “After spending some time, predicting the outcome becomes easier.”

In this video by photographer Sara Byrne, you’ll get an idea of how to create double exposure within your DSLR camera:

Here are other contemporary photographers creating digital double exposures:

Double Exposures

Photo: Doug Keyes

Double Exposures

Photo: Doug Keyes

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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