American Museum of Photography -- View Great Photographs



Seeing Double, Double Vision, Double Exposures, Trick Photography, Special Effects

L. Wallak (Vienna, Austria)
Double Portrait: Barber and Customer
Albumen print carte de visite
(2.15 x 3.5 inch image on imprinted card mount 2.25 x 4 inches)
circa 1885


In the second half of the 1800s photographers formed trade organizations, attended conventions, and read professional journals. The trade press often offered practical technical articles as well as advice on international trends and fads. Thus, double exposures of the type shown in this exhibit could be made in galleries around the world.

This double portrait of a barber and his doppelganger customer demonstrates both creativity and sloppy technique. Note how the two sides of the image fail to match at the center; both the painted backdrop and the pattern on the floor are out of kilter. (The likely cause: slight movement of the camera between exposures.) A line roughed-in by pen along the center of the photograph may have been intended to obscure the poor registration between left and right images, but succeeds instead at drawing the viewer’s attention to the very area where the problem is most easily seen.

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