Recently I had the opportunity to fulfill a little photographic dream of mine: taking pictures of identical twins.
Twins (and people with albinism) are two of my photography obsession and apparently I’m not the only one being fascinated, as the history of photography is constellated by iconic pictures of twins, the most famous probably being Identical Twins by Diane Arbus, one of my favourite photographers of all time.
Recently the fashion industry has showed a similar interest for models with albinism (for example, Shaun Ross and Diandra Forrest) and I would love to take portraits of people with this condition, but I am a bit worried about approaching them on the street, because I don’t want to offend them.
Going back to twins, Mary Ellen Mark, another one of my favourite photographers, has made a whole book on the subject, travelling twice to the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, with a giant Polaroid camera to take absolutely beautiful portraits of twins (you can read more about the project and see some pictures here on her website).
I never approached a couple of twins before and my shooting came up by coincidence: I asked Basil (the first twin I’ve met, while he was working at WHSmith) if I could take some pictures of him, because I like the way he looked and I was planning to experiment with studio lights on a black model, and he told me that he has an identical twin!
At the time, I was reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, a wonderful book about her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and I was thinking of shooting only black and white film to pay homage to his stunning work, that I just discovered thanks to her biography.
I bought tons of 120 black and white film to test different kinds (Fuji Acros 100, Kodak T Max 100, Ilford Pan F 50) and I ended up shooting only a roll of Kodak T Max, because I changed my mind and decided to try colour gels with cross processed slide film (yep, I’m definitely not good at sticking to plans).
Anyway I’m pretty chuffed with the pictures and the twins were lovely, so I’d love to organise another shoot with them, this time shooting more black and white.
My good friend Sarah Brimley assisted me on the day and I’m very grateful, she is an amazing photographer and she is way more experienced than me, so having her there to help was very useful and reassuring.
I have definitely learned a lot from this experience and I can’t wait to shoot in the studio again!
[EDIT] I recently got some pretty honest reviews from people about these pictures and I’m changing my mind about them. The pictures with the colourful lights are pretty harsh and tacky, they look like a typical photography student failed experiment, so I’ve decided to get rid of them. Apparently the pictures with the strings are cheesy, but I like them anyway (I do love some pretty cheesy stuff), so they’re still here 🙂