My Double Exposure Film Soup Process

My limited edition prints (and many of my recent Instagram photos) are shot analog, on film soaked in steaming foods and household cleaners, dried in rice for weeks, developed in my tub and printed in my bedroom.

Obviously I first need to choose my subjects and shoot some film. If it is 35mm I will shoot a full roll, rewind the film, pull out the leader, and shoot through it again. I enjoy the element of chance and seeing what life and my subconscious is able to come up with!


However if I shoot medium format film, my camera will allow me to shoot a photo, then immediately shoot a second exposure right on top of the first. So in this instance I am able to compose the double exposure fully.


With medium format I currently shoot both exposures from the same exact spot. Same patch of earth and height, but I allow myself to swivel the camera in another direction or to change the lens for a wider or more narrow perspective. I have my reasons!

The next step is to remove the film from the camera, boil some water, and make some film soup. I typically mix together the boiling water with some acidic fruit juice, old wine, hot sauces, chili pepper, spices, kitchen cleaner, and yes I have even put a drop of blood in there once! 


Insert film canisters, stir and soak for 12-24 hours!


Now that an assortment of my kitchen leftovers are trapped in a small film canister with my treasured images, I must attempt to dry the film. Which it turns out is darn near impossible. But I try. I typically drop the film into a canister of rice and silicon absorption packets, and leave it in a well-lit / sunny area for two to three weeks.


And when I take them out to spool them, to my constant amazement, the film is always still wet and sticky. But we must persevere!

Another day I’ll do a blog on how to develop film at home, but the first part of the process is to use a dark room or bag to remove the film from its canister (with a can opener) and to spool it and place it in a developing tank. 


I mention this now because I do not have a dark room, so I reach my hands into a developing bag (which is fun because I kind of feel like that robot from Lost In Space or maybe a scientist reaching into a sterile environment with those science gloves? Let’s call them ‘science hands’) and the film is slimy, sticky and did I mention you can’t see anything because your hands are in a dark bag?


Because they *are* in a dark bag, FYI.


I personally don’t mind because 1.) I like the word ‘moist’ and this feels super ‘moist’ and 2.) I like anything that gives the film character so if I scratch the film or imbue it with my finger prints (you are welcome FBI CIA and Interpol) well, all the better.

Finally I develop the film in my bathtub and hang it to dry. PRO TIP: take a shower first or invest in a big house with at least two showers. This is because the film will be occupying your bathroom for 3-4 hours. And it is a finicky guest so I just leave it in there. I don’t know what it does in the bathroom and I don’t want to know.


In future blogs I will be discussing scanning, and printing, and also hidden portals to alternative dimensions.