The Dreamy Dissonance of @echosight

@echosight
@echosight
Danny Ghitis and Daniella Zalcman include quotes with each image to help define the mood.

"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." —Leonardi da Vinci

Every day, across all kinds of media and all sorts of pursuits, creative minds are reinventing the ways we collaborate with each other in the second decade of the 21st century. Photographers, for instance, no longer need to physically exchange negatives, prints, contact sheets or other “analog” materials in order to work with each other; all we need is an internet connection — a new reality that helped inspire @echosight, a joint-Instagram account between photographers Danny Ghitis in New York and Daniella Zalcman in London.

The two met at Eddie Adams Workshop in 2009, but never really interacted despite both living in New York City for years. Zalcman moved to London in late 2012 and began making multi-layered images that combined her new home with her old one. The result, New York + London: A Collection of Double Exposures, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, also led to the formation of @echosight.

Unlike most collaborations, @echosight has taken shape without the artists ever working together face-to-face. While they’re divided by oceans and continents, Ghitis and Zalcman are free to collaborate on their own schedules and share the results on social media.

In a way, the project is an evolution of each photographer’s personal work. “I’m kind of allergic to my SLRs outside of newspaper assignment work,” said Zalcman, who shot most personal photos on medium format film before exploring phone photography. “One is as old-school as you can get and is slow and laborious,” she said. “The iPhone is just the opposite of that. It’s fast and easy and quick.”

Ghitis said he never had a problem with phone photography, but had not fully explored it until getting an iPhone. “I have this thing and I can carry it around in my pocket and it allows me to take pictures casually,” he said.

@echosight is like a “puzzle game,” according to the pair. The entire process takes place on a phone: Images are uploaded to a Google Drive folder, each pulls photos from the other and creates the final piece in an app called Image Blender. Each photo is uploaded to the Instagram account with a quote, something that Ghitis initiated in order to communicate the feeling being conveyed. “Photos are very abstract and words can be very literal so I didn’t want to go too far in one direction,” he said.

The resulting images are at times elegant and at others chaotic. Some have an edge of darkness, like a nightmare; others are meant to be more lighthearted. Ghitis describes an image of a hippo’s open mouth blended with a beautiful spiral staircase as a joke on their shared architectural backgrounds—both studied it at one point in college. “Daniella was making this lovely comment about architecture and I totally made a joke out of it, but that’s kind of what’s fun,” he said.

The game of @echosight is not limited to two players. In the future, the duo hopes to become a trio, quartet or something larger to create more complex and deeply layered images. As each photographer travels, so does the project—Vietnam has been in the mix during a recent trip by Zalcman.

“It would be great to have someone else join our ‘pictures with friends’ game,” Ghitis said.


Tanner Curtis is an associate photo editor at TIME.com.


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