Q And A With Multiple Exposure Photographer: Calum Heywood Photography

  • How did you get into Photography?

I started taking photographs when I was about 13 when my dad gave me his digital camera to try out. I just kept taking photographs from then on looking at new ways I could experiment, I shot a lot of nature-based work to start off with because I found it interesting and it was everywhere.  I tried out black and white film photography and darkroom work while I was at college and then dropped film photography entirely in favour of digital for a few years and now I shoot colour film and medium format photography alongside my digital work.

  • What kind of gear do you use?

I use Canon Eos systems for my digital photography and videography, with a Canon 6D as my main shooter and a Canon 100D as my secondary shooter. I try to mostly stay away from extra gear and shoot handheld wherever possible.

For my film/analog practice I shoot 35mm on an Olympus OM1 with a fixed 50mm lens and Medium format on my 6/4.5 Zenza Bronica. In terms of film I shoot Kodak Colour plus for 35mm and Kodak Portra 400 medium format. I shoot on a Petri 7s 35mm rangefinder and a variety of point and shoot 35mm cameras as well.

I’ve got my eye set on getting a Pentax 67 as an upgrade from my 6/4.5 but I haven’t found the right one yet.

  • Which is your favourite lens? Why?

Recently my favourite lens to shoot with is the fixed 50mm which I use with both my Canon 6D and Olympus OM1. I’ve been shooting a lot of portrait-based work recently and the prime lens allows the aperture to go extremely wide to about 1.8 which adds this amazing distance between the subject and background. Below are a few examples of my fixed 50mm work.

  • So, you like to use multiple exposure in your photography? How did that subject peak your interest?

My initial interest for the project came from the introduction sequence of HBOs true detective (Screenshots below) and the work of Swedish artist Erik Johansson. Both styles use image layering and altering to create surreal and intricate images. A key point of Johanassons work I wanted to replicate was the level of detail in the images contain so if you were to scale the images to A0 or larger you would be able to pick out tiny details in the images.

So, from there I kind of ran with the idea and just experimented and went with what worked and kept exploring and expanding my style of practice.

I have a new multiple exposure set which should be out by the time this interview comes out. The images are a joint project with Manchester based fashion brand For the Fly Customs which combines the multiple exposure style with leather jackets designed by For the Fly each jacket centres around one of five iconic creatures from classic horror movies made up by Dracula, The Mummy, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This is the first time the multiple exposures have been tied together with a set brief of creating a multiple exposure which not only looks good but ties into the theme of each creature and works together as a set of images which was an exciting and interesting challenge.

Calum Heywood, 2019

HBO, True Detective

HBO True Detective.

Erik Johansson

  • What settings do you typically use for your multiple exposure photography creations?

The portraits for the multiple exposures are shot in a studio environment as it makes them easier to work with in post. I try to work mainly with prime lenses and on the 50mm if I can, but I shoot on a shallow depth of field to make the images easier to lift off the background and onto a plan background in Photoshop.

When shooting I like to take a lot of shots from various angles so that I have a lot of flexibility. The aim is to create an almost 3D view of the model so that I can pick and choose which angle of the model works with the image I want to overlay with it. I try to use this technique when shooting the secondary images as well to give myself the maximum amount of flexibility in post. Then it’s just a case of playing around with the images in Photoshop until something clicks together. The process is more trial and error at first, but the more images come out of the style the easier it gets to tell what shots will work best together which speeds up the editing process massively.

  • Are there certain shots you need to get before you post process and make your creations doing multiple exposure style photography? Or do you just go with the flow?

There’s always the start of an idea, so with the mechanical portraits (the stuff around power stations) I knew I wanted to combine the industrial structures with the human figure but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to do it, so I just shot 4-5 possible locations and models and spend 10 hours or so in the editing process experimenting with ideas to see what would and wouldn’t work. However, the new set with For the Fly Customs had more of a focus as the images had a clear theme to work around. The Mummy took a more sand/desert-based approach for example, so this just meant I had to be more creative with my approach to the work often using more abstract ideas and working with shape form and texture.

  • How do you usually post process your work?

I do post process my photos, but I try to keep my process minimal, so I’ll only do basic editing and stick to exposure and colour corrections in either Photoshop or Lightroom.

The multiple exposures are a different story of course, with them every part and detail are planned and constructed I have even moved away from straight black and white and moved into adding colour filters as well. An interesting point to mention on the multiple exposures is that they look different depending on what screen you look at them on and this is especially apparent when they make it to print so I usually end up doing test prints and looking at the images on retina displays if I can to get an idea if any part of the images looks out of place or needs more editing.

  • What makes a good photograph in your eyes?

That’s a great question! It probably sounds cliché, but I’d say telling a story or making the viewer feel an emotion. I have a real love for street photography for this because you can play around with colour, space, light and movement to create stories out of street scenes.

For me personally a few Instagram communities I look at for inspiration are @Somewhere magazine, @Nowhere Diary and @Documenting Britain.

  • Are there any other styles of photography you enjoy?

There are a few styles which I’m really into at the moment I love shooting on film, especially portraits and documentary photography but I also have a passion for street photography and I’m branching out into fashion photography.

I’ve recently discovered a passion for shooting just stuff that feels boring and mundane but is interesting without its surrounding context so an example of this is that a few months ago I was in Manchester walking to the University and I wanted to finish off a roll of 35mm film, so I could get it developed that day. I saw a half-eaten Greggs pasty lying on the floor and without thinking I took a picture of it, so I now have this strange image which tells the story of a discarded pasty on the streets of Manchester and for me that’s very interesting.

  1. Tell us the story behind your favourite picture?

One of my favourite photographs is a street portrait I took a few years ago of a girl crossing the road through a beam of light in the northern quarter in Manchester. I love the moment it captures, it’s almost a nod to Cartier-Bresson idea of a decisive moment. The image has a sort of sentimental value for me because I was there for about half an hour photographing people walk across the same street before I got the right shot. It was very dependent on the right weather and being in the right place for the light to come through at just the right time for the shot to work.

  • Have you done any cool projects recently that you’d like to discuss?

I’m currently working on a few different projects the largest of these is a portrait and documentary photography project for my master’s degree which centres around socially distanced portraits and observations on the lockdown. All the portraits are shot on medium format film and document people from the area around me. I’m aiming to collect the project into a photobook once its completed.

I’m in the process of starting my own business as well which takes up a majority of my time so I’m working on shoots and collaborative projects relating to that which are mainly fashion and portraiture based.

  • When you do travelling what do you take with you and why?

When I travel try not to take anything digital with me to shoot on, this probably sounds a bit controversial in the digital age, but I feel like it makes traveling more of an adventure and instead of taking loads of photographs it slows the process down and makes me look close at the what I’m shooting. I came to this realisation near the end of 2019 when I went to Berlin for the first time. There was a strict bag size which I could take on the plane because I didn’t want to pay for extra luggage, so I was pretty limited on what I could take with me in terms of gear (unless I wanted to wear the same pair of clothes every day) so I settled on taking my Canon 100D for digital shots and my Petri 7S 35mm rangefinder to shoot film.

I decided not to take any film over with me because I didn’t want the hassle of taking it through security and I thought it would be fun to source some film while I was over there. I found shop near Alexander Platz about a 10-minute train journey from where I was staying where I picked up two rolls of kodak Ultramax 400 which I shot over the next two days.

I found that once I came back to the UK that I was a lot more interested in getting the 35mm rolls developed than digital photographs. I applied this same idea when I visited Edinburgh in March of this year and found the same result that I was a lot more interested in the film images than the digital ones. So, after that I decided that I’m going to fully commit to this process and next trip abroad the plan is to just take 35mm and medium format.

  • Is there any photographers work that has influenced and inspired you? If so who?

There are three inspirations which come to mind;

Australian Magnum photographer Trent Parke was a massive inspiration when was younger and to an extent still is today. His project Dream/live inspired me to shoot purely in black and white for a solid 2 years and to break into street photography.

I guess I could argue although not a photographic influence that Louis Theroux is one of my influences especially for the show work Weird Weekends peaked my interest in the strange. I have plans in the future to photograph UK subcultures through portraiture and documentary photography from an interest peaked by Theroux.

A large inspiration for my recent portrait work and socially distanced portraits work is a portrait from the Sleeping by the Mississippi series by Alec Sloth. The way which Sloth uses the camera and captures people in their natural environment is a huge inspiration and something I try to replicate within my own work.

  • Do you shoot both digital and film?

I’ve been shooting digital since I was about 13 and I started shooting 35mm black and white film when I was at college when I was 16/17 but then I stopped for a few years because I didn’t like having to developing the film and I found it kind of limiting because I didn’t always want to work in black and white and at the time I felt like shooting digital photography was easier than working with colour film.

In November of last year shooting colour film first on 35mm and later I moved onto medium format as well. I haven’t moved back to shooting black and white although I do have some plans for creative work using black and white film and darkroom printing in the future.

  • Where do you expand your photographic knowledge?

I gain a lot of knowledge from just doing new things and pushing myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible. I went on a photo walk a few weeks back with one of my friends to take portraits around Hebden Bridge which was a great experience and pushed me to work in a different way by approaching people and asking to take their portraits. I would certainly recommend working with others and collaborating on projects as a way to grow and expand knowledge and expand your comfort zone.

In terms of the business side of my practice I find a lot of inspiration from listening to podcasts and audiobooks a few are; the Creative Rebels podcast. Crushing it by Gary Vaynerchuk and Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley.

For more of Calum’s work visit his blog at https://pushedfilmmagazine.wordpress.com/, Website at Calum Heywood . You can also see Calum’s work on Instagram @CalumheywoodPhoto and Twitter @calumheywood .

I hope you enjoyed something a little different showcasing and discussing the work of Calum Heywood Photography: Multiple Exposure Photographer. Stay Tuned for the next installment.


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