Hayden Williams is a fine art photographer based in Frederick, Maryland who is known for his dreamy and surreal double-exposure photography.
When creating images, do you usually have a project/series in mind, or do you just shoot things that interest you?
Typically, I get an idea for an individual shot and try to create that. I’ve never intentionally tried to make a series because I think making individual and independent pieces is much more fun and interesting. However, I do have a few series in mind.
What gear do you use?
At the moment I only use a Canon AE-1. I shoot with the 50mm f/1.8 lens for most shots and the 50mm f/3.5 Macro for others. I also frequently use a multi-image filter over the lens that creates a slight kaleidoscope effect.
Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
I do have some, but you’ll have to wait and see :)
How has double exposure photography allowed you to see the world differently?
It’s changed my view in a lot of ways. Everything I see, I try to imagine how I could incorporate it into my shots. I’m constantly looking for things with intense contrast or dark portions that I could combine with other pictures. I’m also looking for things that give off brilliant colors or strange displays of light. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with crystals and water because of the colors and light they give off.
Who/what are your influences in creating images?
I’m definitely subconsciously influenced by a few of my inspirations. Hayao Miyazaki is a huge influence of mine; everything he makes is so rich with nostalgia and emotion. I also admire the work of Cinema 4D artist, Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), a lot. I play around in that software frequently, and it definitely influences my photography.
What’s your favorite photograph that you’ve taken?
This photo has been my favorite ever since I took it, mainly due to the anticipation behind it. This was my first time shooting with LomoChrome Purple, and I shot through it very slowly and carefully. After I got the idea for the shot, I took the picture of the flowers first. I then planned to take the hand silhouette at sunset, but I was cursed with a week of rain and clouds. After impatiently waiting a week, I finished the shot, but still didn’t finish the roll until a few weeks after (the whole roll took more than a month to shoot). I’ll never forget how my heart jumped when I saw the shot for the first time.
What is the most challenging aspect of double exposure photography?
The patience it requires and the disappointment it creates. My shots are only successful because I wait and plan the shots carefully. I’ll sometimes go a few days before completing a double exposure. That said, they quite frequently turn out terrible. I of course try to recreate and improve the failed double exposure on my next roll, but due to the nature of film, it takes a while to see the results of your experimentation.
Where do you hope to see your photography take you in the next 5 years?
I’d like to make a living off of it. My lifelong dream has always been to have the freedom to just travel, explore, and create. Much of what I think about is how to achieve this; it’s a difficult thing to make a living off of art, especially photography. These days it seems like the success of your art correlates entirely with how much of a following you have, rather than its actual merit.
I think over the next five years my photography will change. I’m constantly experimenting and trying new things, and I’ll continue to put my dreams on film. But I’m also trying to adapt.