Francesca Allen intimately photographs “every side” of her relationship with her sister, Alida

Shot over five months in their familial home in Devon, the photographer has compiled her sun-drenched and revealing imagery into a new book and exhibition.

13 April 2022


There’s something incomparable about the sisterly bond; the life-long, un-judged and unconditional love you have for each other – no matter what. Where even if the older sibling starts pointing a camera at the younger sister – documenting her growth into adolescence – the bond simply cannot be broken, instead forming a long-term collaboration between the two. Francesca Allen, a familiar name to It’s Nice That, has long centred her sister Alida as the subject to many of her inimitable photographic works to date. Her vibrant, yet soft style of image-making has garnered wide success in the industry for the past few years. When stumbling across an image of female friendship, womanhood or intimacy in any given scenario, you’ll be sure to know it’s Francesca’s.

And now, we’re pleased to present her latest release, a book entitled I’d Like To Get To Know You. A photo series comprising a publication and exhibition, the project compiles 42 images of her sister captured in the luscious and tranquil setting of their mother’s house in Devon. Shot in collaboration with stylist and friend, Claire Lemaigre, and taken over a five month-period in spring/summer, the resulting imagery has a freshness that cannot be mistaken for anything, other than a project devised during the better weather. In fact, the sun-drenched scenes and warm compositions only add to the intimacy found between these two sisters – that of subject and photographer. “I’ve always used photography as a way of experiencing intimacy, and it felt like a natural way to connect with my sister,” she tells us. “Although we’ve never been that close, I’ve always loved photographing Alida and I’ve been doing so since I was a teenager.”


Francesca Allen: I’d Like To Get To Know You. Styling by Claire Lemaigre (Copyright © Francesca Allen, 2022)

Francesca continues to cite the very early works made between them as being less “great” than the more recent; “It’s a shame”, she adds, otherwise they would have amassed to a rather wonderful long-form series. Either way, the imagery at hand in I’d Like To Get To Know You is equally as impactful as it reveals the honest synergy between siblings – the ups and downs, and the unwavering connection. It’s no wonder Alida has become Francesca’s enduring muse. “I think she’s the only person I don’t feel too shy to push boundaries with,” adds Francesca. “I wanted to show every side of Alida, and every side of our relationship. I think the images simultaneously show closeness and tension between us.”

This becomes paramount amongst the gentle, comfortable postures of Alida as well as in the more precarious – a frown or even concerning look striking through the lens. In one (somewhat phosphorus) image of Alida standing outside [pictured below], the sisters had just finished eating dinner and noticed a rainbow through the window. They got changed quickly, Francesca grabbed her camera, and had about a minute before the rainbow had gone. “I didn’t think I got the shot; it had happened so quickly and I kind of dismissed the photo when I developed the film, but the more I looked at the photo the more I loved it.” In such a simple pose, Alida’s demeanour and comfortability with her sister becomes so obvious. It’s with a true knack of her craft that Francesca is able to photograph women in this way, and hopefully there will be many more pictures like this to come. At least for now we have a whole book and exhibition to marvel at.

“It means a lot to me that Alida loves the project too,” she continues. “I think she’s taken it all in her stride and has handled it really well. I would be freaking out if it was me in the photos. She was a bit shocked when we first walked into the exhibition; there’s a floor to ceiling print of her covering a whole wall when you first walk in. She cried a bit. I don’t think she was expecting to feel that way.”

I'd Like To Get To Know You is available here. The exhibition is open by appointment from 24th March - 24th April 2022. Contact to book.

GalleryFrancesca Allen: I’d Like To Get To Know You. Styling by Claire Lemaigre (Copyright © Francesca Allen, 2022)

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Francesca Allen: I’d Like To Get To Know You. Styling by Claire Lemaigre (Copyright © Francesca Allen, 2022)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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