With our mobile devices always at hand, we have access to a plethora of photo-editing apps whose entire purpose is to create a work of art, on the go. Apps like Afterlight, Faded, and Visual Supply Company (VSCO) can all give you a sense of adventure and creativity that you may not have realized was possible with your phone.

One of the most fun results you can achieve a properly executed double-exposure image. When done right, the two images you use will weld into a finely crafted, singular, and new creation. Read on for some quick tips on how to make this happen on your device with a double exposure picture app, along with some amazing double-exposure examples from our collection. Afterward, click through to our full curated lightbox for some more examples of this alluring technique.

Double exposure of bearded man in forest by Sfio Cracho
Double exposure of bearded man in forest by Sfio Cracho

Find Your App

Whether you’re taking pictures for fun, or working on building a portfolio of smartphone photography, you’ll have to find an app that works for you. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t offer double exposure functionality (yet), but some of the abovementioned apps, like Afterlight and Faded, offer easy-to-use photo options, especially for double-exposed photo creations. For this example, we’ll be working with Afterlight (download it here) and it’s double-exposure functions.

Double exposure side profile of a woman by Annette Shaff
Double exposure side profile of a woman by Annette Shaff

Choosing Your Photos

You’ll see a great deal of portraits juxtaposed with nature in our collection, and that’s not just because it’s a cool trend. For portraits especially, the combination of a contoured face and a textured nature shot happens to work really well. But you don’t have to use nature — with that same application of thought, you could use an uploaded vector or a pattern of the same sort that you find in the wild. With your portrait, it’s easier if the subject is cropped and close up. Less distraction and movement in the background also mean that the focus is only on the main subject.

Double exposure of woman by Onigiri studio
Double exposure of woman by Onigiri studio

Combining Your Photos

Once you’ve decided which photos you’d like to use, you can begin combining them to create your final product. Open the portrait first by selecting it from your library, then edit it with whichever effects you choose in the app. You have the option to apply filters, use a photo editor for more specific effects, and change the size and shape of your photo. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, there are a few directions you can take.

If you want your portrait to be filled with the second image that you choose, make sure that you have areas of dark and light — specifically, dark in the actual subject of the image, and light in the background. If you don’t have those already, you can adjust them using the Contrast and Brightness scales, under the effects tab in Afterlight. Maybe you want to combine and image of your dog wearing goggles with two palm trees framing ocean that you photographed on the beach — it’s up to you. Just keep in mind that the overlay will fill in all the dark spaces of your image.

Double exposure of woman's profile, mountain landscape by patronestaff
Double exposure of woman’s profile, mountain landscape by patronestaff

Once you’re happy with your first image, tap the crop tool icon on the bottom bar (it’s a square crop with a curved arrow), and select the final option in the new bar that pops up. It should look like two pieces of paper laid on top of one another. This will give you the option to choose your second photo from your collection. You’ll be able to move and scale the second image on top of the first. Hit the check mark once you’re done, and you’ll have nine options to choose from that will allow you to lighten, darken, colorburn, and more. Each of those options has a scale, so you can increase or decrease the amount of each effect as you like.

Want even more inspiration for your new photo projects? Check out and and download any of the images from our double-exposure lightbox »


Top image: Woman in black gloves forming glasses by Victor Tongdee

What else can your smartphone do? Check out these iPhone video tips here.