5 Tips for Shooting Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller

How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film
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Written by Melese Miller

There are a lot of reasons why I love shooting film, but one of the biggest reasons is the ability to make double exposures.

It really feels like painting with film, where you can come away with something 100% unique.

Want to learn how? Let’s jump in.

How to Shoot Film Photography Double Exposures
How to Shoot Film Photography Double Exposures
How to Shoot Film Photography Double Exposures
How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film

Metering for Double Exposures

There are a lot of people who suggest underexposing by a half to a full stop when shooting double exposures. However, I don’t like the muddy shadows that come along with underexposing, so I shoot my film the same way I always do.

This typically includes some overexposure so I can keep those shadows looking nice and the colors popping. Try out both to see what you like best!

How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film

Not All Cameras Have a Multiple Exposure Setting

It’s a sad reality, but some cameras don’t have a multiple exposure setting.

Most rangefinders as well as TLRs require you to advance to the next frame which doesn’t allow for the fun of layering different images together.

However, many 35mm cameras and most 645 cameras do, so if you’re not sure if you’ve hit the jackpot or not, check your camera’s manual to find out.

If you’re shooting 35mm on a camera without a multiple exposure setting, check out this tutorial on how to reload a roll of already shot film into your camera. The tutorial is for adding light leaks, but the same technique can be used for double exposures.

Essentially, you’ll run your film through the camera twice, creating a whole roll of double exposures. It’s a great hack for shooting double exposures on any camera!

How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film

Which Image Goes First in a Double Exposure?

When you’re shooting double exposures, one of the most important things to think about is which image you take first and which image you take second.

If you shoot randomly, you might get lucky here and there, but if you want to consistently create the double exposure image in your head, it’s important to think about how double exposures works.

Double exposures are created by layering one image on top of the other. The first image you take is going to fill into the second image’s shadows…let that one sink in.

A good rule of thumb is to remember that whatever you want to come through most in the photo should be shot second. The texture or secondary image should be shot first.

It’s a little counter-intuitive, but, by thinking of your doubles in this way, you’ll be able to systematically create double exposures just as you’ve imagined them.

A Note About Image Order

If you are using the hack to shoot a roll of film through your camera twice for double exposures, you’re not really able to plan out the double exposures.

The best way to handle this is to shoot an entire roll of textures or secondary images. Shooting a whole roll of flowers or nature works great for this.

Then, you can reload that roll into your camera again and shoot a whole roll of primary images, such as portraits. This will give you a better chance at having images that work well together.

How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film

Shoot One Full Roll of Double Exposures

Here’s the thing about double exposures – – they’re experimental. If you only shoot one double exposure every ten rolls you’re never going to be able to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Try shooting a full roll & take notes. You’ll learn more about them and have a lot more keepers!

How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film

Find Inspiration

The only way we get better as artists is by immersing ourselves in the work of other brilliant minds. Dive into Pinterest & Instagram to think of different ways to create doubles.

Here are a couple of my fave accounts on IG that are sharing incredible and interesting double exposure work:
@doubleexposurefreak
@doubleexpomagazine

Also check out my Pinterest board or the Shoot It With Film Double Exposure Pinterest board for even more double exposure inspiration

How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film

Film Mentorships

Melese Miller is currently accepting clients for mentorships, and is always talking film & sharing tips and tricks on her IG account. If you’re looking to up your game and take your film to the next level, you can check out her film tips or book a mentorship here: https://www.melesemiller.com/mentorships

How to Shoot Double Exposures on Film by Melese Miller on Shoot It With Film

Thank you so much, Melese! You can find more of Melese’s work on her website and Instagram.

Leave your questions about double exposures below in the comments!

And if you want more double exposure articles and inspiration, check out all of our double exposure posts here!

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Blog Comments

A method I learned a long time ago was:
1) Do NOT touch the rewind release button
2) Rewind the film until it is snug. This keeps the film from wandering.
3) NOW press the rewind release button, and use the film advance. With the release activated, the film advance will cock the shutter without advancing to the next frame.
4) Take your second exposure.

–Rich

Will have to try this method. Thank you for sharing!

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