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D A N I A N D B E N I
Dani and Beni were born on November 16th, 2012—exactly fourteen years after I was. I have known Dani and Beni since they were tiny little babies in the NICU in south Mississippi, but our stories go back even farther than that. Their mom, Lisa, has been in my life since I was seven years old - about the same age as Dani and Beni are now. I met Lisa when my family and I moved from south Florida back to the Mississippi coast after Hurricane Katrina gave my whole family a scare and led my parents to want to move closer to home. I was introduced to Lisa while staying at my aunt’s house and would later know Lisa as a family friend (and sometime babysitter) for my sister and me while she was pregnant with her first son, Caleb. When my family eventually returned to Florida, I no longer saw Lisa and her family as much as I did before... not until my freshmen year of high school, when their whole family came to Orlando as a part of the “Give Kids the World” gift offered to her second child, Emma, who was born with a Congenital Heart Defect.
I was invited to come along with them to Universal Studios one day to help watch the then two-year-old twins. As time went by, Lisa had another beautiful daughter, Hannah, in January 2018. We reconnected in November 2018, at our first photo shoot together. I had always wanted to photograph Dani and Beni—-not for how much I adored them and shared a connection to them, but because of how fascinated I was by their identical nature. The first time I went to photograph them, my intention was to use the photos for my bookmaking class at SCAD for a project on twins, but later I realized the photographs of Dani and Beni would take on a life of their own.
After seeing the final photographs, I knew I had to come back often to document the connection between them and the progression of their lives. A year after we took the first photos, we planned to shoot again and were able to get even better results. In 2020, I had the chance to photograph them both in the summer and again in November, right after our birthdays.
These girls are absolute naturals in front of the camera, and I have been fortunate to build a portfolio of them over the years. They were the first twins I photographed, which sparked my love for photographing children. For that, I will always be thankful. I cannot wait to photograph Dani and Beni in the coming years, building a deeper connection with each of them and eventually publishing a book featuring these documentary photographs as a gift for them on their 18th birthday.