Long a source of fascination, identical twins have often been a theme of myth and legend. The founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus is one of the many instances that spring to mind. Even when separated at birth, identical twins can have uncannily similar tastes, habits, and life experiences.
Photographer Martin Schoeller uses his distinctive close-up portrait style to examine sets of identical twins and multiples in his new book "Identical: Portraits of Twins.” In capturing every subtle aspect of their facial structure, myriad similarities and seemingly miniscule—yet significant—differences are revealed, leaving one to ponder how appearance and identity is defined in individuals.
Schoeller sees a photographic close-up as perhaps the purest form of portraiture, “…creating a confrontation between the viewer and the subject that daily interaction makes impossible, or at least impolite,” as he describes his work, “In a close-up, the impact stems largely from the static subject’s expression or apparent lack thereof, so the viewer is challenged to read a face without the benefit of the environmental cues we naturally use to form our interpersonal reactions.”
One needs to look close to examine sibling individually as they sit side-by-side. The pairing gives the reader a moment to consider his or her own individuality as well as the sameness in all of us.
“The proximity of apparent sameness, identically framed and supported by our drive to recognize and emphasize patterns, gives us a chance to carefully consider how we look at a face—unfamiliar, unforgettable, detested, or adored. We make these assessments constantly, without thinking. I would like us to slow down and consider the countless small associations and fine distinctions that make up each of these casual appraisals,” says Schoeller.
You can purchase the book here.