The bond between sisters is extraordinary. It’s a beautiful experience that had turned into an amazing documentary when a photographer Nicholas Nixon visited his wife’s family in the summer of 1975. There, he saw four young sisters and was impressed by the sisterly unity. He asked them if they would agree to pose for a few photos. And this is how Heather, Mimi, Laurie, and BeBe posed for Nixon every year for the next four decades.
Let’s check out a peek into the personal lives of these four sisters as time passes by.
20. THE SUMMER OF 1975
The first photo shows individuality. Hands inside pockets or folded across the chest, an arm slung over a shoulder and fiercer looks will be replaced in the years to come with more solidarity and reassurance. Out of 40 photos, 36 were printed and exhibited in Granada, Spain at a gallery, where the public started crying, looking at these sisters’ evolution in time…
19. HARTFORD 1976
A relaxed photo of the four sisters shows them filled with hope and ready to take on the world. They are standing casually, comfortable and confident, illuminated by the summer sky. The series of photos include historical moments from the American culture like this shot taken at Woodstock – #7.
18. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS 1977
One year later, the sisters appear more confident. The long dresses were replaced by other styles, and they all look like there’s a lot more on their minds than the past year. Heather, Mimi, Laurie, and BeBe never talked about what they were going to wear on the day of the photo. BeBe (Nixon’s wife) said: “We just wear what we feel like wearing that day.”
17. MARBLEHEAD, MASSACHUSETTS 1979
As you could see from two years ago, each sister appears to have established a dress style. One would go for a more formal style, and another opts for pants. The sister on the right appears to love sweaters, whereas the one on the left liked plaid shirts. What are they thinking?
16. EAST GREENWICH, RHODE ISLAND 1980
This thoughtful photograph shows how much the sisters love each other. They pose embraced, showing the world that age will not take them apart. The serious looks from the previous years have been replaced with shy smiles. What happens in the next year’s photo?
15. CINCINNATI 1981
The next year, during summer, the girls lean back from the camera, as if asking us to follow them. The light catches their features, showing that the sisters are confident, but also a little warier. It’s like they want to speak to the world, but they’re not ready to let us in yet.
14. IPSWICH, MASSACHUSETTS 1982
All bundled up, and in cooler temperatures, the sisters let the wind sweet through their hair and complete one more photo for the year to come. If you’re wondering why they don’t smile too much in the pictures, you’ll understand at the end why it was a challenging task for the photographer…
13. ALLSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 1983
As if being on a united front against the world, the sisters appear to cling to each other on the field, each having a look that shows something is going on. The sun and the wind play in their hair, and the mystery carries on.
12. TRURO, MASSACHUSETTS 1984
The grown-up look appears on each sister’s face. The young ladies from the last year still hide their past and their lives, and we can only look at them and imagine what they were doing at the tip of Cape Cod. Is there more behind this photo?
11. ALLSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 1985
The same position like the one in the previous years, and the same three matching outfits in white tops, with no smile, but a totally different air stun the viewer by showing a different, yet familiar photograph. The sisterly bond is still strong, a decade later! Let’s see them two years later…
10. CHATHAM, MASSACHUSETTS 1987
Twelve years have passed since the first group photo, but the fierce determination hasn’t disappeared. Each sister looks into the camera with defiance and makes us wonder what their thoughts were as they posed for Nixon. Their outfits have also changed, and the next photo shows a dramatic change!
9. WELLESLEY, MASSACHUSETTS 1988
Summertime with the four sisters appeared to be warm and light, but now one of them is wearing animal print ad the other one opted for a black top. What’s the most dramatic change is the smile they show, probably the nice day was reflected in the photo. We’ll never know…
8. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS 1989
The sister that was always on the far left appeared to go back and hide behind the one in the middle. Still a very impressive family photo, the four women appear with no smiles on their faces, with the one in the far right staring back into the viewer’s soul, daring us to ask them what’s wrong.
7. WOODSTOCK, VERMONT1990
Soft smiles across their faces reflect the happy times at Woodstock. Their close bond is still there, although one of them appears to slowly move away from the other, probably choosing a different path.
Check them out two years later…
6. CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS 1992
Time has passed, but the four sisters find time to gather for their yearly photo. You can see how their pose has changed. They appear more relaxed and happy together. The following photos will be from 2013 towards the present to show you more recent and unforgettable moments.
5. THE BROWN SISTERS SERIES: 2013
Nicholas Nixon presented his series of 40 photos stating that he would like to thank the Brown sisters themselves: “These pictures grew out of my curiosity about and admiration for this band of beautiful, strong women, who first let me into their lives, then allowed me to try making one picture…”
4. THE ANNUAL RITE OF PASSAGE, 2014
Nixon added that the four sisters joined him “in a tradition, an annual rite of passage.” He said he loved his sisters in law and thanked them for their patients and their love, adding that he is lucky and grateful to have a wife like BeBe: “my true love, my best friend, is the center of my life.”
3. 1975 VERSUS 2015
It’s been four decades since Nixon has shot the first portrait of his wife who was only 25 years old back then. Every year, the photo of the sisterly love was documented, showing their evolution throughout the years. These series are displayed in almost 15 institutions, and almost ten private collectors have them!
2. A WONDERFUL COLLECTION, 2016
The set contains 40 photographs, and they’re estimated to be $200/300,000 worth. The 41st annual photograph was celebrated at the exhibition at Fraenkel Gallery, where the photo of the series was taken.
1. TRURO, MASSACHUSETTS , 2017
The previous photo from Truro was taken in 1984. Thirty-three years later, the sisters are 58, 64, 66, and 68 years old and they’re still together. This is the last photograph taken, and we cannot wait to see the one from 2018. One thing is for sure, as Nixon said: “Everyone won’t be here forever.”