Zwillingsfestival in Twinsburg
Als Kind mag die Vorstellung, einen eineiigen Zwilling zu haben, der zum Beispiel Mathe-Klausuren für einen schreibt oder am Schwimmunterricht teilnimmt, während man selbst ein Eis essen geht, verlockend sein. Später allerdings kann so eine Doppelung des Ichs, die einem den eigenen Alterungsprozess vor Augen führt, ohne dass man dafür erst in den Spiegel schauen muss, unangenehm sein. Ganz zu schweigen von der Gefahr, dass der eineiige Zwilling womöglich die eigene Zukunft verbauende Selfies postet. Die fröhlich dreinblickenden Zwillinge auf unserem Foto scheinen derartige Gedanken (noch) nicht zu hegen. Getroffen haben sie sich beim Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, dem weltweit größten Festival dieser Art, das seit 1976 jeden Sommer stattfindet. Zugelassen sind sowohl eineiige als auch zweieiige Zwillinge, Hauptsache Zwillinge. Genau genommen gleichen sich auch die aus einem Ei und einer Samenzelle entstandenen Zwillinge freilich nicht bis aufs Haar, sondern zu 99,999 Prozent. Das ist zwar eine ganze Menge, aber eben nicht genug, um im Falle eines Verbrechens fein raus zu sein. Selbst bei eineiigen Zwillingen unterscheiden sich die Fingerabdrücke voneinander. Und wenn wir uns nicht täuschen, dann trägt das eine blaubeschleifte Mädchen auf unserem Foto eine Zahnspange, während ihr eineiiger Zwilling keine trägt.
First of all we’d be interested to know what you experienced during the photo shoot and what made you pick that particular theme?
I’ve been working on a personal photography project exploring community fairs. I’ve recently been documenting portraits at fairs in the UK such as at Appleby Horse Fair (The largest traveller community gathering in the UK).
When researching different community fairs I came across Twins Days and loved the concept of the festival, the history of it and the identical twins that come globally to the small town of Twinsburg in Ohio to celebrate their twin identity.
From my perspective community fairs create a space for people to come together to celebrate a unifying tie - and it is often a place where people who aren’t part of that community are also welcomed to join in. As a photographer it’s a way to collaborate with different communities without feeling intrusive upon someone’s everyday personal space. I also always ask permission from the person before taking a portrait.
At Twins Days it was amazing to watch twins, triplets and quadruplets from many different communities coming together, such as young twins from Puerto Rico to 83 year old Amish twins from Pennsylvania (one of the oldest Amish settlements). Some twins had sadly lost a twin who had passed away and still came every year to Twins Days to see friends and cherish memories from past years that they had attended with their twin.
It was a very important event for a lot of the twins, some had visited Twins Days every year for the last 43 years the festival has been running. It was also the first time I’ve experienced a true American parade and it didn’t disappoint!
When and where were you born, where have you been educated and what are stages of your professional career?
I’m originally from Southampton, England - I studied at Winchester School of Art and moved to London at the end of my degree.
My first job was as a photo assistant on the picture desk at Elle magazine, I then moved to Topshop where I worked in design and art direction for four years before moving to a fashion advertising agency. I joined Getty Images at the beginning of 2018 where I’m currently Senior Art Director and this has been a highlight within my career as it’s a very creative and collaborative space to work in.
Outside of my role at Getty Images I also work on my own personal photography projects as I have done throughout my career, although for Twins Days I did cross over. This is mainly due to the fact that I’m lucky to report directly into Guy Merrill who is the Head of Art at Getty Images and who has opened up many creative opportunities for me. For example it was much stricter then I initially expected to gain access to the Twins Days festival but through his support I was able to gain access and cover the event for the editorial news team.
Within my main role as an Art Director at Getty Images I get to work within a team of talented Art Directors and Editors split between London, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Day to day we are bouncing ideas between each other and share many creative resources and inspirations - we each have a select roster of brilliant photographers who we collaborate with on concepts and shoots for the creative department. These images are then available for full commercial licensing within Creative on Getty Images.
What is your standard camera equipment? Is there any special or favorite gear?
I generally shoot a mix of film and digital. When I shoot film it’s on a Mamiya medium format camera. As much as I would love too, I don’t have my own dark room and use a lab in London to process my film. When I shoot digital I use a Canon 5D.
These pictures were shot digitally as they needed to be delivered on the day for the US news team.
How do you process/edit your images? What particular darkroom technique, software or apps do you utilize?
I use Lightroom to do some slight colour adjustment to my Raw images.
Do you have photographic role models?
Photographer role models would include Dana Lixenberg, Nigel Shafran, Tom Wood and also some younger photographers such as Dean Davies and Nina Manandhar who I’ve been able to collaborate with on art directed projects for Getty Images since last year.
Is there a portfolio or photobook that inspired you?
Mary Ellen Mark made her famous black and white ‘Twins’ series at the Twins Days festival in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s - they are really surreal portraits made even more interesting by the passing of time.
Nigel Shafran’s ‘Teenage Precinct Shoppers’ has always been a favourite portrait series of mine. I am drawn to projects that give a glimpse into an earlier time but also hold nostalgic parallels to modern day.
Where can one find more of your photographic work? Website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter …
My website: josie-ng.com
My Instagram: Josie_gealerng