Photographer Captures His Twin Brother’s Cerebral Palsy Through Breathtaking Images

For 13 years, Christopher Capozziello dealt with the grief and guilt of being the “healthy” brother by photographing his cerebral palsy-afflicted twin.

Christoper Capozziello, a Connecticut-based freelance photographer, started taking pictures of Nick, his twin brother who has cerebral palsy, when they were 20. Now, 13 years later, Christopher wants to tell their story through a book, The Distance Between Us, which is being funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Christopher spoke to BuzzFeed about the experience of capturing his brother and their relationship through the years.

3. “I first began making pictures of my brother at a time when I was trying to understand the kind of photographer I was becoming.”

“Without any intention of telling our story, it emerged years later out of a steadily growing archive that chronicled his experiences and unknowingly at that point, my grief.”

5. “In the very beginning he didn’t like it, so I would sneak one or two pictures and then he’d realize what I was doing, and he’d turn his face away from my camera or flip me the bird.”

“One of the earliest pictures was of him in bed, waking from a cramp. I walked into our bedroom, and the sunlight on him looked beautiful. I crouched to make a picture and the shutter from my old Nikon was so loud that it startled him. He punched me in the face.”

7. “I am the brother who survives and has choices and he is the brother who suffers and has less.”

“It’s hard enough to voice that to my closest friends and family. Talking about these things with a larger audience is even harder.”

9. “I think the image of Nick with the cigarette hanging from his lips is my favorite.”

“When he leaned against a fire hydrant trying to relax from a cramp, a passing woman glanced at me, and then down at Nick, who looked up slowly and grinned. She fleetingly returned his smile, and he took another drag with the fading smirk still on his lips. I laughed then, and I’m laughing now as I’m typing it again.”

10. “Nick’s favorite picture is the one of him with this woman named Rachel, the two of them dancing in a dive bar in San Juan Capistrano.”

“While visiting some friends we ended up at The Swallows Inn, where he was eyeing this woman all night. She was the prettiest woman in the bar. My friend’s sister approached her and asked if she’d mind dancing with Nick. At first she declined, but then for some reason, she obliged the request. At one point during their dance she tells him not to look at her feet. Afterward, he confessed to me with a grin as wide as ever, ‘I wasn’t looking at her feet!’”

11. “I think, like with many brothers, there is a pushing apart and a coming back together.”

“I remember feeling relieved when I left for college, that in some way I was getting out from under the shadow that our twin-ness cast. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve come back together.”

13. “For me the beautiful part of this story in images, is that I never treated it like any of my other stories.”

“I never spent time with Nick in order to photograph him. Most of the time, I have a camera slung over my shoulder and when something was happening, I would make a picture, or two, or three, and so, one image lead to another until our story emerged. It’s humbling and beautiful all at once.”

14. “Recently I read the book to Mom and Dad, and Nick for the first time. He didn’t make it past page 25.”

“He began to tear up, and then couldn’t stop crying. He left the room and afterward said he has to live with this everyday, and that sometimes, it’s hard for him to hear me talk about it.”

16. “Through the questions in the text and the photographs themselves, I hope the book to be a testimony to family, and struggle, and love.”

“It’s humbling to have made these pictures for years without ever wanting to acknowledge the possibility of this as a story when it’s been right in front of me.”

18. “We’ve talked about why I’m sharing some of the harder pictures, and he’s come to understand.”

“The first time I shared our story in a public setting, I created a short multimedia piece. Before leaving for the festival where I would show the work, our family stood around my laptop with everyone looking on. Nick hugged me afterward telling me he was proud of me. But now, he’s asking why I’ve written some of the things in the book.”

20. “I think if I treated ours like any of my other projects, where I show up and it’s understood that I’m around in order to tell some sort of story; it wouldn’t feel right.”

“This is different, not less difficult, but different.”

21. “I hope that through this book people will sense the tension between my love, my hope for Nick, and the deep grief I’ve dealt with being the healthy twin our entire lives.”

Rick Gershon/MediaStorm

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