In 2010, I stumbled across Dan Mountford‘s stunning double exposure portraits. These images hold a certain mystery and wonder. But who were these people? What was their story? These questions aren’t answered by Mountford. Five years later, I set out to capture and create my own portraits. My subjects are not models, friends or family; they are strangers I meet on the streets of Toronto.
And that was terrifying, at first.
With a desire to connect with my community in an artistic and meaningful way, I posed the question:
“Is there a place in Toronto that you feel connected to?”
The ‘place’ is superimposed on the subject’s image. These places are the unifying spaces that tie us together. The places form the basis for story. They are a launch pad for conversation and are presented through interview and visual story telling.
What is your process?
I spend a weekend exploring the city, photographing strangers and capturing their ‘place of significance’. Each interview is recorded and transcribed. Each portrait is edited (Adobe Lr / Ps). And to bring it all together, the ‘place’ image is double exposed on the portrait.
Why ‘Double Exposed’?
Double Exposed holds double meaning in this project, playing with themes of vulnerability and the art of superimposition.
By opening up to a stranger, such as myself, a subject is exposed. They share their struggles, nostalgic moments and aspirations.
Who am I?
I grew up with nights at the baseball game, afternoons at the ROM and day trips to the zoo. Curiosity can’t die in a city like this, a playground like this. Downtown Toronto keeps you on your toes and you can’t help being swallowed up by the constant movement. I’ve learned to find places of peace, and each neighbourhood holds its secrets. It’s up to you to find them.
- A brief history of double exposure photography
Double Exposure, multiple exposure or superimposition is a form of photography that dates back to the 1860’s when spiritualist photography emerged. William Mumler was the first photographer to become famous for using double exposure in his portraits, but this practice was not understood by the public. Instead, Mumler used double exposure to deceive his clients:
The visual medium of spirit photography was able to access the spirit world, offering spiritualist believers the possibility to receive a post-mortem portrait of their beloved.
— Simone Natale, 2012, p. 126
Mumler’s portraits were characterized by a ghostly figure that appeared in the background of an image.
P. T Barnum took Mumler to trial 1869, declaring him a fraudster. The case was dismissed because “prosecutors failed to explain with certainty which procedure Mumler used to perform the trick” (Natale, 2012, p. 129).
Still want more? See the Natale (2012) citation below:
Natale, S. (2012). A short history of superimposition: From spirit photography to early cinema. Early Popular Visual Culture, 10(2), 125-145. Retrieved from here.