“The Battisti Twins” by Frank Lepre

This photo was taken in Ottawa, Ontario at the home of an old family friend, Antonio Battisti. The two girls, in the photo are his identical twin daughters, Maria and Roberta. I stayed at there house while on holiday one summer and it was the first time I had met his children. He also had a little boy, Alessandro who was a bit older than the girls. I thought it would be nice to take a portrait of the children and give the photograph to the family as a gift.

They were playing together in the back yard one afternoon and I thought that would be a good opportunity. It was impossible to get the three to sit still or even together for that matter. The boy was a blur in almost every frame so I gave up on him very quickly. The two girls were a little easier since they stuck together most of the time.

My original aim was to get more of a conventional portrait with a simpler background however they were still a little shy around me so I knew it would have to be something more spontaneous.

They were being very silly and would, as cliche as it may sound, repeat each other. One would say one thing and the other would immediately repeat it. It was adorably funny. I was waiting for a moment with them together without them noticing I was taking their picture.

They had just finished eating a Nutella sandwich and had chocolate on their hands and faces. Their mom was getting a towel to clean them up and they were waiting at the door for her to come back out. This was a chance to get a good shot, I thought. Just as I was about to take the picture one of the girls put her hand in her mouth to lick off the chocolate, her sister noticed me pointing the camera and turned her eyes sideways almost as if to say, okay you can take your hands out of your mouth now, he’s taking our picture.

That’s basically how I got the shot. It wasn’t necessarily what I was after but I realized, once I made a print that it was pretty good.

The following summer I visited them again and gave them a copy of some of the pictures I took that day, including this one.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

I personally find it difficult to discuss such things about my own work however I would say that humour is the first thing here. It’s a funny picture that captured the essence of the sisters silliness that day.

The second thing is, that it’s unconventional. It’s a candid portrait of the twins made impactful by the expression on their faces and the odd compositional elements around them like the cropped arm on the left, the jug filled with clothespins in the top right and the off kilter framing.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I don’t think there is anything specific about this particular photo that I would change. However, given the opportunity to go back, it would have been great to have captured a portrait that was a little less silly.

Frank Lepre shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Frank Lepre, Toronto, Ontario


Equipment and settings

I used a very old old Rolleiflex TLR, my very first camera, purchased from a pawn shop when I was a student. The lens is a Schneider Kreuznach Xenar 75mm 3.5.

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