Having a style that is recognizable is one of my goals as a photographer. Among the #believeinfilm community Jon Wilkening, Maite Pons, Chikako and David Allan have images you can spot a mile away. With David, aka DBloomsday, he's taken double exposures of buildings, people and scenes and woven them into great images. David is also an inspiration for me as someone who stuck to a style against normal conventions and praise. When you see tweets like this early last year and the success he's had since it's a cruel reminder of how being true to yourself and making images people like aren't always connected.
I wanted to try my hand at his style. There were two good reasons too, I had rented a Canon A-1 for a review and hit had a dedicated double-exposure mode and secondly I'd recently read an article about performing the technique that made it sound way too easy.
I loaded up the camera with FP4 and set the exposure compensation for -1. My goal was to overlay two similar images and have the overlaps create a geometrically double exposed area. Shooting was tricky and it took me a couple of shots to get comfortable with the double exposure latch on the A-1. I would shoot my first image, trigger the latch, advance the shutter but not the film, take a second shot and finally advance the shutter. I went for really simple geometric patterns: vertical overlay, horizontal overlay and a 90 degree flip.
Getting the images back it was interesting to see what worked and what didn't. Images that worked had a defined overlap that was more confined and distinct. When the overlap was total or incomplete the images came out looking flat. As a whole the roll was much more experimental and loose than my typical roll. The hard part is that I'm not totally sure how to recreate the images that worked other than to reverse engineer how those specific shapes and patterns worked. My limited successes were purely random.
David owns this style and technique and turned randomness into consistency. My attempts were a nice dip into the water but it will take many more roles and deconstructing to become proficient at it. That's going to be true of any style I want to learn. I appreciate David's work even more now after trying it. It's not a totally random process but you need to be ok with a lot of failure at first. And when it's that hard to pull off you gotta be really dedicated or really delusional to succeed. I'm pretty sure he's both.