Two photographers, one roll of film, exposed twice — once of people, then of places. That’s the concept behind People vs. Places, a new double exposure photo series from Chicago-based photographers Timothy Burkhart and Stephanie Bassos. With a little ingenuity, a great eye and some luck, the result of their dueling effort is a more hauntingly beautiful view of the world we live in.
HOW DID YOU TWO MEET AND WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO COLLABORATE ON THE PEOPLE VS. PLACES SERIES?
We met at our full-time job. We have worked together for a little over a year as image designers for a startup company, and do freelance on the side. Naturally, we started talking about photography at work and realized we shared the same sort of passion/obsession with it. We’d share web links back and forth of photographers we loved, or cameras we were using, etc. We definitely admire each other’s style of shooting, despite coming from different photographic backgrounds. Tim shoots mostly landscapes with film, and Stephanie does mostly portraits, digitally. Since our styles differed so greatly, it was hard to figure out a way to work together on a project, until one day the idea came about.
THE DOUBLE EXPOSED PHOTOS ARE REALLY BREATHTAKING, CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT? HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT?
One day Tim was talking about how he had an old Nikon camera that didn’t re-wind the film all the way so he accidentally shot over an old roll and double-exposed it. Stephanie mentioned how she wanted a new project to work on and felt like she was stuck in a creative funk, and loved the idea of double exposures… but never really experimented with them. The idea just came together, as before we couldn’t find the right fit to bring our styles together and this just seemed like a perfect way to do that.
CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS? WHAT’S YOUR MINDSET WHEN YOU’RE PICKING PEOPLE OR PLACES TO PHOTOGRAPH?
We first started by passing Tim’s camera back and fourth. One of us would take it and shoot their “people” or “places,” and then when the roll finished, we’d rewind it and pass it to the other. The person that was last to use it would go drop it off at the lab. Eventually, to speed up the process, we found the same camera on Craigslist and now we each have one, so we are constantly shooting and switching rolls (not cameras) back and fourth. At first there wasn’t really a mindset because we weren’t sure how they would turn out… but through trial and error, we’ve discovered what works more or less. But there really isn’t a strategy so much because everything is so random and there’s no real way to know what’s going to work and what won’t. Tim adamantly won’t say where he’s shot, and Stephanie will never say who until it’s developed. We both have kept the camera on us for the past six months and we’ve both traveled all over the place. California, Greece, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Michigan, etc.. so the results have been so different and exciting. It’s hard sometimes because one of us will always stumble upon something we want to photograph that we can’t. For example, Tim will want to use it to take a picture of a person and he can’t, and Stephanie will want to take a picture of a landscape… but we don’t. We are very strict about that one rule.
OF THE PHOTOS YOU FEATURE ON YOUR TUMBLR, ARE THERE ANY FAVORITES OR ONES THAT STAND OUT TO YOU THAT HAVE A GOOD BACK STORY YOU MIGHT SHARE?
I think we each have our personal favorites, but can both agree that the ones that have been featured the most are our strongest: The girl in the pink dress sitting on a picnic table with the top of her face replaced by trees and a white sky… and the group of people at a crowded beach in Chicago double-exposed with bare tree branches from the Indiana dunes. We also really love the ones that create some sort of juxtaposition. There’s one of a baby jumping into her fathers arms from a sandbar in Michigan (a very relaxing and carefree environment) and it’s double-exposed with a parking lot full of Chicago taxi’s.
ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS WORKING TOGETHER ON PEOPLE VS. PLACES?
Well… we don’t really work together other than when we sit down and go through the photos. We are both so excited to see the results and we usually come in to work a little early to go through them. It’s always great when we both come across a photo we both instantly love, and we generally have the same taste in those.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE PROJECT? ANY PLANS FOR A PHOTO BOOK?
That would be incredible. It’s hard to say because we never want to stop doing the project, so we won’t know when to start making the book. We keep thinking the next roll will have something even MORE incredible on it. I think we would both love to have a show, make a book, sell our prints, etc. It’s wonderful to know that so many people stand behind a project that we love so much and have fun with.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS
Stephanie Bassos graduated from Columbia College in Chicago with a major in magazine journalism. She fell in love with photography her senior year in college, and has been shooting non-stop ever since. She specializes in portraits and has recently been doing more weddings, bands and album covers. She lives in Chicago.
Timothy Burkhart attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, and received his BFA in photography. He started shooting photos in high school, initially photographing his friends riding BMX bikes, and soon after discovered the fine arts aspect of the photographic world. He currently lives and works in Chicago, and loves to travel when the opportunity arises. He is interested in space and scape and also the relationships people have with the spaces they inhabit.
Timothy Burkhart | Tumblr