Bruce Gilden on His Famous Photo of “Twin Brothers”

Bruce Gilden is often a man of few words. Over the years, his work has brought on criticism from some in the photo community while being adored by various collectors. I highly doubt this photo from his “Lost and Found” series would bring any criticism. I think everyone can easily see the unusual but amusing scene as quite a lucky capture.

“…I like it and it still makes me smile,” says Gilden in a short interview with the Phoblographer. “These guys look like twin brothers, and they’re visually interesting.” Trying to get some of the more senior and golden Magnum photographers to talk about their work can sometimes be difficult when considering the typical who, what, when, where, how, and why that we stick to. However, artistically speaking, there’s a lot to dissect here.

What makes this photo so appealing is some of the following:

  • The gentlemen are dressed nearly the same.
  • They have nearly the same body type.
  • They have nearly the same hairstyle.
  • Their expressions are pretty much the same.
  • They’re interacting with the same car.
  • They’re almost facing each other when you consider the flat space of the photo.

This image is also only possible when you stop the lens down. Lots of modern photographers like to shoot wide open, but depth of field is a major part of telling the story of a scene. Manufacturers try to push that lenses should be shot wide open and unfortunately that makes the image making process suffer quite a bit.

Bruce Gilden most likely underexposed this photo and then pushed it in the darkroom: our theory on how we’re getting such big grain. It could’ve also been shot with a specific film and developed with Rodinol to get the grain you see.

Most of Bruce’s photos construct a cinematic scene that’s idealized and romanticized. I’m not certain where this is from, but it looks like classic Americana. There’s a bit of the risque in the background with the adult shop added into the American ideals of excess.

A photo like this, in my eyes, belongs in an old-school diner or pizza slice joint. It would easily help convey the aesthetic of the American Dream. I can imagine it in the Skylight diner on 34th street and 9th Ave as easily as I can see it at the Paulie G’s slice joint in Greenpoint. This, for lots of folks, is a very romanticized vision of America when times were simpler.

Is this an image you’d want on your wall? Why would this photo by Bruce Gilden be important to you? Do you think it’s one of Gilden’s better photos? We’re curious to hear what you think of it, so be sure to let us know in the comments.

The Magnum Square Print Sale

The Magnum Square Print Sale takes place on their website and ends on October 23rd, 2022. You can buy this image from Bruce Gilden and more. The Square Print Sale is a fantastic opportunity to get your hands on some wonderful Magnum Photos prints from photographers you love. In previous years, we’ve had an affiliate relationship tie in. This year, we’re just profiling a few photographers we really like. 

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