Even without modern photo-manipulation software, clever photographers from the 1860s were able to find ways to make their work interesting, eager to attract new customers and boost business. One of these techniques they developed was the simple yet fascinating portrait doubles, or what they called camera-created cloning!
As portraiture gained popularity in the 19th century, photographers became eager to find ways to attract customers with unique photographic work. During the 1860s, they devised a technique to duplicate their subjects in a single photograph, which eventually came to be called “clone portraits.” The American Museum of Photography cited an advertisement that even boasted, “Every Man His Own Twin!” which demonstrates the appeal of this quirky style that piqued the interest of the photographers’ clientele at the time.
Similar to how we lomographers do splitzed doubles, the photographers back then used rotating partial lens caps, special plate holders, and other similar tools to expose half of a negative at a time. If you enjoyed seeing some of the side by side Diana F+ doubles we recently shared, you’ll definitely be fascinated with the vintage portrait doubles below:
This slice of photography history only goes to show that this technique doesn’t require digital intervention and was “invented” even way before clone portraits started being done digitally!