Sunshine on My Mind by Amamak Photography
Photographer Michelle Karpman’s and model/photoshopper Aviva Artzy’s worlds collided to create the awesomeness that is Amamak Photography, a joint effort in which the pair have created a series of the dreamiest of double exposures.
Double exposure photography to me is akin to seeing two worlds collide. It’s kind of like a peek into two dimensions and before I start spouting ideas about quantum physics, which I know very little about, let’s enjoy a fun interview with the talented duo.
Share a little bit about each of yourselves.
Michelle: I’m from Montreal, Quebec, and I take pictures for fun. I first got into photography when I won a photo competition in high school and thought I was really cool and talented and then slowly accumulated a small army’s worth of cameras over the past few years. My room is now more reminiscent of a camera museum than a livable space and my free time, once spent doing ordinary things, — procrastinating, having friends — now consists of shooting, scanning and talking about myself in interviews.
Aviva: I, too, hail from Montreal! I grew up in a family almost entirely composed of artists and photographers, so I’ve always been interested in drawing or photoshopping or futzing with something artistic, somehow. Through Michelle I pretend to be good at photography, too.
How would you describe your artistic styles?
Michelle: While I’ve often heard of the many merits of developing a distinct style, I’ve never really actively considered fostering one of my own. More than an artistic style I think I have an artistic genre; I like my pictures to be ethereal and light-stricken and sweet. I don’t edit them to have a given, consistent feel or angle them to get a certain sentiment, I just take them so that they’re appealing.
Aviva: Style? I think my/our style is sort of “If it works, it works!”
Share a little bit about your collaboration, Amamak Photography, and also about your double exposure mixed project series.
Michelle: Aviva and I have been friends for about six years, before which we were archenemies. I used to bug her very consistently (and annoyingly!) to be my friend and she used to be mean and evil and generally uninterested in me which somehow organically evolved into us being mean and evil (and annoying!) together. Sometime during that period I got my first medium format camera and she became my pseudo-muse-best-friend-partner-in-crime/whine. And thus Amamak was born! I think all photographer-friendships get to a point where it’s either take pictures of each other in states of undress or move on.
Then some years later Aviva started combining our pictures in Photoshop and, well, I’ll just let her handle this part solo because I secretly already read what she wrote and it pretty eloquently sums up this whole Mixed Project venture.
Aviva: Our ‘collaboration’ (which some might just call a friendship?) basically stems from our mutual love of portrait photography, beautiful places, and combining the two. We’re two girls who like to take pictures together and have fun while we’re at it, without putting too much pressure on the whole thing. You could pretty well say the same of the mixed project, which started as an accident, which we quite liked, so we went with it! We created a set of double exposures that were, quite literally, combinations of portraits and beautiful nature shots. In portrait photography in general, and particularly our own, there’s a lot of focus on the model, usually associated with a sense of intimacy. With this project, it’s less about a photo of my face and more about a really magical combination of person and nature, where I’m more of an aesthetic prop than the real focus. If anything, the emphasis is on how the two elements, sometimes in complete opposition and other times quite complementary to each other, look when combined. Also we just like them because they turn out pretty!
Describe your process of creating the double exposure.
Michelle: WELL, I actually do all of the work the whole thing was my idea and since I’m so proficient, artistic and naturally skilled with Photoshop I had absolutely no problem bringing the ideas which I already had and did not randomly stumble upon to life on my computer screen. Aviva will explain the details of my skill which I do have and understand but wish not to share myself.
But really my job chiefly ends after the whole buying film, taking pretty pictures, getting them processed and scanning adventure.
Aviva: This is actually my domain! (Michelle stop trying to steal my thunder not cool)
As I mentioned earlier, this project started completely accidentally. I’d dragged a photo (nature- themed) on top of another photo (me-themed) and hit ‘screen’ and it just sort of … worked. I’d like to say it was a pretty special moment but I don’t actually remember it at all. I just saw something I liked and decided I must recreate it. So I did! That’s about as conceptual as it gets. The actual ‘creation’ of a double exposure in Photoshop is pretty simple stuff, there’s no secret we’re hiding on that front. You open two photos, drag one on top of the other and change the ‘top’ layer’s mode to ‘screen’. Sometimes I make other minor adjustments, possibly insignificant details to suit my fancy on a case-by-case basis. About 90% of the “process” really comes down to choosing which shots to superimpose, and there’s a lot of trial and error involved until we get something that we really love.
So far, which of the installments in your mixed project is your favorite?
Michelle: My definite favourite is Fading. Just love the silverness and colour scheme as a whole.
Aviva: Yes, I concur. I also have love for pretty much all of them, partially due to aesthetic pleasure and probably partially due to familiarity.
Can we expect to see more in the mixed project series?
Michelle: I can’t possibly see why not! They’re easy enough to make and just require the right combinations of nature and Aviva-human. Also they’re lovely.
Aviva: Yes! We’ve only posted a handful online, but we’ve got many more we’re saving up. Michelle knows nothing.