By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/5/2020
Topics/Keywords: #Photography #Fauxtography Page Views: 1817
Twins run in our family.

Twins Run in Our Family

…sort of. Actually, no one runs in our family. And we don't actually have any twins at all, in fact, as far as I know. But, growing up, I was fascinated by the idea…and, after watching The Parent Trap and The Patty Duke Show, I decided to make twins photographically.

Or, as we now say, "fauxtography". That word has been coined to describe Photoshopped efforts such as the child with a fork stuck through his nose. But it applies as well to these in-camera effects, and those accomplished via zliteral "cutting and pasting".

Twin Grammas have an evening cocktail.

This photo, taken in the summer of 1966, was my very first attempt at creating "twins". The subject is my step-grandmother, Dorothy Weems Brown. I used a Kodak Brownie Twin Lens Reflex, because I knew I could take double exposures with it. The camera was mounted on a standard tripod. I ran a black thread down the viewfinder for reference, and hand-held a sheet of black construction paper over half the field for the first exposure, then, after Gramma had switched chairs, over the other half to complete.

Twin Mary Joans enjoy a good book.

This shot, taken with the same camera setup, was actually taken in fairly dim light, as the sun had set about twenty minutes before. The subject was my sister, Mary Joan. Because it was so dark, I had to make the photo a short time exposure, as well, and overexposed the right half of the shot.

Mary Joan's guardian angel provides good advice.

In this shot, I decided to make one of Mary Joan's doppelgangers an angel—minus wings, but with a white sheet-as-robe and a little transparency. That required the right half of the frame to be double-exposed (once with her present, once without) to make the "angel" transparent. Unfortunately, I had neglected to take the brightness of the white sheet into account; so the transparency effect is barely noticeable.

Twin Moms discuss newspaper articles. (This is science fiction!)

I especially appreciate this short time exposure taken in our living room. Note the flood of light from the window. I did have to digitally enhanced Mom-on-the-left's face, which was washed out by so much backlight.

Twin Moms agonize between "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price Is Right".

This photo was my first attempt to create "twins" in color. Same camera setup, plus I had to make this a time exposure, since the photo was taken by ambient room lighting. The subject was my mother, Edna Mae Cilwa. She had a little trouble holding still for the time exposure, but the twin effect is certainly there!

In 1968 I created a series of "twin" photos of myself. This technique involved taking two separate photos, with the camera on a tripod, and composing the picture as if the "two of us" were present. Originally I cut-and-pasted the elements together and re-photographed them. However, with the negatives digitally scanned, I was able to complete the job digitally.

As a senior in high school, and under the expert tutelage of Mr. John Jackson, father of my classmate Thomas and himself a professional photographer, I began to experiment with taking two separate photographs and combining them via simple (though tedious) cutting and pasting.

I also discovered the odd phenomenon of an "inner self" who did not wear glasses and was far more relaxed than my "normal", reserved, self. This "relaxed Paul" only revealed himself in twin photos, at first (but, years later, I hope, took over completely).

Paul, and Paul. Christmas with the Pauls.

Shortly before her 1971 wedding, I captured my sister, Mary Joan, trying to decide whether or not to go through with it.