At April and John’s Wedding at Consall Hall we tried something a little different from our usual bride and groom portraits and combined two photos in Photoshop to create a cool double exposure portrait effect. Here is a brief tutorial explaining the technique behind the effect.
First of all, you need to choose your starting photos carefully. A portrait shot that is near-silhouetted against a bright background is ideal, and it will work best if your subjects are recognisable from their silhouette. You can place your subjects beneath a clear sky and get low to eliminate background distractions, or just erase the background clutter in Photoshop if you don’t mind the extra editing involved. Once you have your portrait shot, the second shot you are after is one with lots of texture and detail. Trees and foliage are ideal, in this example we’ve used a bride and groom photo that is mostly trees and grass.
The portrait shot needs some tidying up first, so we have erased the background clutter, converted to black and white and boosted the contrast a touch.
That’s most of the hard work done, all that remains is to layer the two images in Photoshop and set the blend mode of the upper image to either Lighten or Screen – both give similar results, Screen is somewhat lighter and smoother:
And that’s all there is to it! As you can probably guess, your starting images will determine to a large extent how successful the end result is. The key is to experiment and try all sorts of combinations, it may take a few attempts until you get something you are happy with but you’ll love the results of these double exposure portraits when you do!
JP Williams is a Wedding Photographer based in Staffordshire, England.