Needles and Pins

My Sister and I look identical. Born within minutes of each other it was as if I sent her ahead of me to scout the unknown terrain. Still to this day I rely on her to lead the way. She’s beautiful and I love to watch her-I look for the differences. I rarely look in a mirror- I don’t like what I see.

I’m a photographer-I love to observe people and watch for the exact moment that a true image of who they really are sits on the surface. At that point I capture them forever. I don’t particularly like to have people pose for my shoots-I much prefer when they’re happy for me to hang out with them. It can be time consuming-capturing that exact moment only happens once they have forgotten that I’m there. I’ve perfected the art of looking through people. They don’t see me and they don’t see the camera. Often my customers are stunned by the images I present them with-it’s as if they see themselves for the very first time. Don’t get me wrong, not all of them like what they see.

I enjoy watching Rosa work. She’s a tattoo artist and my enjoyment of her art has resulted in me recently having my twenty-fourth tattoo. I like to watch her face as she engages with her subject. Once the preliminaries are over, she says very little as she gets down to work. I like the way she sticks her tongue out when she’s concentrating-it’s not a trait we share.

A few years ago we staged a piece of performance art. It was just the two of us on stage with an antique dentist’s chair. Rosa sat in the chair and I pretended to ink her. I had set up my camera to take photos at regular intervals. We remained silent throughout. We had recorded a selection of sounds from our everyday lives and edited them into thirty minutes of noise. The reviews had been fairly mixed-we didn’t care. We attended a bit of a meet and greet after the event and it intrigued me that people kept on referring to me as Rosa. Could they not see the differences between us?

I once asked Rosa if she would take some photos of me-I wanted to capture that exquisite moment when I reveal my true face. I’ve looked at those photos so many times-often for hours, and I cannot see what I’m looking for. I’ve attempted to take my own portrait and it never works because I know that I am watching and I’m unable to forget that I am there. In every photo I look as though I’m searching for something.

One of my favourite pictures is of the two of us and it was taken during our indulgent performance. Rosa is looking up at me-my camera caught her at the moment where she truly sees me. The expression on her face tells me all I ever need to know-sometimes it’s the similarities that make all the difference.

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Amanda Bird

Amanda Bird

Amanda has always thought of herself as an armchair traveller, and since early childhood books and stories have provided the portal to other worlds. Her love of reading sparked a passion for writing and she has been writing stories since... a very long time ago! She now lives in Hove, and the view allows space for her imagination to roam.
Amanda Bird

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