Photography has long been used as a tool to demonstrate the intimacies and complexities of relationships - whether that’s lovers, families or groups of friends. Our latest Reads explores one relationship in particular - sisters. London-based photographer Sophie Harris Taylor’s newest photo book is an ode to sisterhood, examining the joy, the tribulations and the differences from one sisterly pair to the next. It’s not the first time we’ve fallen for Sophie’s work; a previous subject on the journal, her raw photos capture life at it’s most sensitive and untouched. Her recent series, for instance, features beautiful portraits of women with acne - without an airbrushing tool in sight.
For Sisters, Sophie spent time photographing and interviewing over 70 sets of sisters from all ages and backgrounds, to paint a picture of the many different shapes and forms sisterhood can take.
“The project came about after I began reflecting on my own relationship with my sister” Sophie told the British Journal of Photography, “It has always been a tempestuous one, which has ultimately put some distance between us. I wanted to question and explore sibling relationships through the eyes of other sisters, hoping that it might shed some light on my own.”
Each page of the book features a different pair of siblings, captured in typical Sophie Harris Taylor style - in natural light, at home and untouched. Although the images include an accompanying quote from the sisters, the intimacy of the photographs lets the reader’s mind wander. Who are they? What are their personalities like? Do they get on?
Published by Hoxton Mini Press, the portraits offer an alternative take on the traditional family portrait, visually hinting at a mix of emotions from closeness to sibling similarity and, in some cases, rivalry or jealously. In a sense, Sisters is simply reinforcing the fact that family bonds are a complex and constantly evolving beast, and siblings (particularly female) probably get the worst - and best - rep of them all.
“The fact that they come from the same home, are usually born in the same era, are the same gender and spend a lifetime developing together make sisterhood a fascinating and unusual human development and dynamics” says Sophie.
The pictures manage to bridge the gap between moody and hopeful, avoiding appearing too obvious or the sisterly subjects looking uncomfortable. The portrait of six sisters piled on a bed, leaning softly on one another and staring into the distance is a particular favourite of ours - as is a composed-looking older sister clutching her crying baby sibling (who obviously wasn’t a fan of the camera). Sophie clearly has a true knack of capturing her subjects at just the right moment and Sisters feels like an accumulation of her genuine interest in humankind. It makes us reflect on our own sibling relationships - or lack of - and wonder what’s next from Sophie Harris-Taylor, who we reckon is one of the industry’s most exciting up-and-comers.
Words: Lucy Vincent
All images: Sophie Harris-Taylor