lomo lovers tipster: 10 Film Swap Tips by James Butler (slimmer_jimmer / @slimmer_jim)

as you are prepping for the big lomo lovers film swap 2012, we thought you might want to swat up on some tips on how to make the most of your double exposures! We sweet talked lomo lovers regular James Butler into giving us his top 10 tips, we shall also be featuring this in our next vol so this is kind of a preview!


1. mark your film.

some people swap films without marking the first frame. This means the two passes are unlikely to be in sync. This can make for some interesting accidents. But personally I prefer pass 1 and pass 2 to line up as near as possible, so I always mark the film. I use permanent marker to mark both sides of the first frame. I also put an arrow showing which way is up (see #7). Loading the second camera and lining up again can be a bit trial and error, but using a camera that has a multiple exposure / MX button makes it much simpler.

2. think exposure

try to avoid burning out the image by over exposing, especially on the first pass. Try to avoid too much sun, lens flare or sky.

with simple toy cameras with fixed apertures/shutters, try and think about balancing the exposures between passes – if pass 1 is shot in summer in Mexico, there’s no point shooting pass 2 on a dull winters day in London, best to wait for a sunnier day (or else shoot a lot of neon signs or other bright objects)

some people underexpose the first, or both passes, by 1 stop (although I normally just stick to the box speed)

3. Don’t centre everything

the temptation with a lot of toy camera photography is to centre subjects, so they fit nicely within the vignette. But if both shooters do that it can create a messy double exposure. So think about the whole image, not just the centre. Offset your main subject sometimes.

4. If you see a good scene to shoot, shoot it twice, or three times.

the process is so hit and miss, you are doubling or tripling your chances that your subject will hit a sympathetic partner.

5. Think texture

– foliage, winter tree branches, flower beds, brickwork, grafitti, posters….they can all work really well.  Sometimes mundane things that wouldn’t make an interesting photo in their own right can make a fantastic layer for a double exposure


6. Anything on a black background will work well.

the black will disappear and the bright subject will overlay the second pass. Neon signs, large white-on-black billboard type, and fireworks all work well.

7. Which way is up?

some toy cameras load film right to left, whilst most SLRs and compacts load the film left to right. If you do a film swap between differing types of cameras, your two images will be upside down to each other. I’ve ruined lots of doubles this way…so either choose two cameras that load similarly, or hold one of the cameras upside down! This is why I always mark an UP arrow when I mark the film.

9. Choose your film.

my favourite film for double exposures is Cross Processed slide film. Be careful though, some slide films shift the colour too far in one direction which can make the double exposure a bit mushy.

It’s best to choose a film that doesn’t shift too much like Elitechrome or Lomography Chrome 100, they allow different colours to pop through. But also experiment with redscale film or Black and White film.


10. Mix up your cameras

– film swaps are a great way to use some of the toy cameras that people often have stopped using. So break out your unused pop9, your unloved actionsampler or your temperamental supersampler, your fisheye that you only used once or that strange 3-lens robot camera that you bought off ebay then didn’t use that much. They all can have a second life as a great double exposure layers (and experiment with masking some of the lenses on your multi-lens cams)

3 thoughts on “lomo lovers tipster: 10 Film Swap Tips by James Butler (slimmer_jimmer / @slimmer_jim)

  1. Great post! Thanks a lot! I’m wanting to do this with my boyfriend when we go to Greece in August. Hopefully, the photos will be “Greece through OUR eyes” when developed! 😀 I’ll be using HOLGA 120 GTLR (with 35mm adapter) and he’ll be using HOLGA 135 to take photos and swap the film. It’s our first time film swapping but we’re really looking forward to it! Will you recommend Lomography Chrome 100 films for us if we’re going to be taking photos in Greece? Many thanks!!

    • I’m glad we could help!
      I would say that should be fine, you need to be careful that you don’t overexpose when you are doing doubles somewhere so bright, especially when you can’t change the iso on either of your cameras! Try not to take too much sun/blue sky.

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