The idea for my “Bloom” series came to me by accident. I had used the multi-exposure technique with my Nikon FM2 camera for a long time. I would shoot one exposure and then follow it immediately with the second image. With this technique, I could control the process and keep in mind which objects or stories I connected in the single frame. But I was always interested in creativity and pushing my process further.

So later, I took a very simple, old Soviet LOMO camera and loaded it with film. I reasoned that there are two ways to create multiple exposure work on 35mm film—either by using a special mode on your camera, or just load and shoot one film roll twice. With the LOMO, I used the latter method because it had no multiple exposure mode. Working like this was different from my Nikon—I had to shoot the whole roll and then go through it again afresh, meaning I lost control. As it was impossible for me to remember what I had shot in each frame, the resulting combinations were a consistent surprise.

It ended up taking me several months to finish exposing one roll twice. After developing it, my risk was affirmed. Some of the pictures were completely new and far divorced from the objects I shot.And for many of the combinations, I felt that they could not have existed in any other variation. Really, in the end, I felt that the best combinations had occurred.

I also soaked the film in various substances to increase the surreal feeling in the images. My technique was very spontaneous, I would use whatever I could get my hands on: lemon juice, detergent, wine, etc. Again, the results were a pleasant mystery. Even when I found a combination I liked, I chose to mix the ingredients without marking down my recipes—part of the continual experiment and the surprise.

I suppose the process for “Bloom” could be seen as unprofessional. But I prefer to look at it as risky and thus exciting. I never could have imagined that my images would look like this. Soaking the film could destroy it all—but if even one image came out well, it was worth it. As they say: the battle is worth the blood.

Technical aspects aside, “Bloom” is about colors and forms, about the subtle matters that surround us. It is about feelings. I believe that we “see” only the tiniest part of the whole world—we are not taught to see “deeper.” All the unseen forces—their vibrations and energies—affect us and our lives. Tuning into these forces is a necessity if we want to be a part of the world.

—Polina Washington

Editors’ Note: If you enjoyed this article, you might also like one of these previous features: At Night, a series on the numerous facets of the human personality expressed through multiple exposures; The Sun Room, an homage to the artist’s workspace filled with saturated colors and optical aberrations; and Denis Yakovlev’s nostalgic—and occasionally unsettling—multi-layered platinum palladium contact prints.

You can see more of Polina’s work on her Flickr and Instagram accounts.