As the series progresses from year to year, the viewer becomes accustomed to the two familiar faces and in turn, the series transforms from a study of biologically identical twins shot amidst immaculately clear light and crisp focal aperture, to a series about subtle character differences and how these may change over time. Not only do we witness a change in the physical experience of the two subjects but also in Greg’s artistry as a photographer. In the latest edition of Longyan Boys for instance, he introduces more context to the relationship of him and his brother. The environment, the time of day, the careful curation of poses; each composition bears a symbolic whisper relating to the twins’ relationship.
The photographic range of works follows a fairly traditional narrative arc. The first series, originally published by i-D, acts as an introduction to the two protagonists. Greg describes it as “very straightforward and fairly staged;” “simple and cooke-cutter” with the majority of shots depicting the twins head on in a typical character profile. Series two however, the latest edition of the story taken earlier this year, is more spontaneous. “I tried to capture how we were in that particular environment,” says Greg. Touring locations from their childhood, he records the moment with an unforced ease. And though the photographs are undeniably mature – with a worldly point of view and cinematic technique – the images possess a childlike nostalgia. From the freshly laundered matching outfits to the photograph of the twins jumping into a cool lake, these moments take us back to the innocence of childhood summers and sibling playtimes. Greg’s photography is palpably visceral, the emotion is singularly present and captured with care.
For Greg, the photographs are grounded in a more personal linchpin. He recalls: “We didn’t really have the typical twin brother relationships anymore, so I started thinking ‘how do I repair that?’. Documenting pictures of us was a way to mend some of those fences.” As is customary, childhood is largely documented whereas adulthood less. And while Greg leapt at the opportunity to cement himself and Jia Hao in print, he also wanted “to use this project as a tool or an excuse to spend time with him and try to connect and get to know him all over again.”
In this way, he wasn’t trying to capture anything in particular but what they were feeling at the time; and that includes the far from picturesque moments too. “After series one, I thought our relationship had drastically improved,” says Greg, “so for series two, my plan was to show how we’d become friends again.” But like all relationships, there’s always a bump in the road and Greg’s plans didn’t go quite to plan. After all “we’re brothers,” says Greg, and “brothers fight!” Just like Jia Hao and Greg or any other relationship in life, it doesn’t just change overnight, “it needs time to grow and that’s where we are right now,” the photographer finally goes on to say. “I didn’t get the perfect relationship I was hoping to capture, instead I got to show the distance between us. How we’ll always be similar but different. I just wanted to capture that, and decided to keep that. I wanted to stay true to who we are.”