The bond of sisterhood is an unbreakable force. She’s your best friend, your companion, the one who’s there in the saddest moments as well the happiest. She will sit by you through change, through big decisions and big relationships. She will bring laughter to almost any situation. There’s nothing quite like having a sister. This is the theme that Dutch-Canadian photographer, Maxime Carol, explores through her new series that aptly goes by the name Sister.
“My drive is to tell intimate stories,” says Maxime, whose work is heavily inspired by the women around her. In her words, she best describes her work as a harmonious blend of “authenticity and naturalism”, and she’s not wrong – her subjects are undeniably at ease in front of the camera, a technique and strength that she ensues in order to gain trust and assurance in her subjects.
The project, Sister, began around a year ago, when Maxime met a woman named Alice. She hadn’t realised Alice had a sister at first, until she stumbled across a picture of them together on Instagram. “From that moment, my fascination began,” Maxime tells It’s Nice That, before explaining how this was the moment where she did “everything” she could to be able to photograph them. As it happens, gaining permission to shoot was “pretty easy” – the photographer sent a message to the sisters, then within a few weeks she had met the entire family. “The whole process was very relaxed,” she says, “we chatted about their lives, studies and their relationship.” After the photoshoot had been finalised, this ignited something in Maxime; a spark had been lit and she had a profound drive continue her project, “so the search for sisters started”.
GalleryMaxime Cardol: Sister; Grace and Hope
Turning back the page to her past, you’d be surprised to hear, then, that she wanted become a vet. But after high school her plans had changed, and she steered towards journalism. This, still, wasn’t quite the right path, but the experience most certainly gave her an eye for narrative. “I soon realised that I was more interested in telling stories through images,” she says of her reasons for trying out the medium of photography.
Maxime’s mother was also a great influence creatively. “My mum took pictures when I was a kid and kept many photo albums,” she says, reminiscent of a time in college when she had bought her first camera. Then shortly after her graduation, she began to assist other photographers and work on small assignments. “It’s been eight years – I’ve learnt a lot, and I’ve taken the time to grow and find my own style.”
Now flourishing in her medium, a typical shoot day for Maxime involves starting off in a relaxing manner, making sure that she arrives on set with plenty of time to prepare, to drink a coffee and have a catch-up with the team. “I think it’s important to be well prepared for a shoot,” she says, although much of her equipment set-up is minimised due to the fact that she’s works predominantly with daylight. “It gives me the opportunity to do light testing for different spots.”
So when embarking on her project Sister, this relaxed and easy-going process becomes evident; the lighting is soft and tonal, while her subjects are positioned in gentle and comfortable postures, deeply gazing into the lens. When asked about her favourite image, Maxime has an obvious photograph in mind. “It’s definitely the one where Alice and Lucy are laying on their bed, holding their heads on top of each other,” she says. “I shot this beautiful portrait on film and still remember the moment very well. We talked for a while and I felt this indescribable connection, which made me feel like a part of their sisterhood. But don’t get me wrong, all sisters are very exciting and so welcoming – that’s what makes this project so special.”
With plans to keep going on this project, Maxime notes how it will take time for it to reach completion. But for now, Maxime hopes her audience will deeply relate to the series and find someone relevant within it. “I hope people will recognise and feel the love I felt when I was around them. In the end, I think we should all take care of one another and cherish the friendships and family we have in life.”
GalleryMaxime Cardol: Sister; Alice and Lucy
GalleryMaxime Cardol: Sister; Ayesha and Sadiyah
GalleryMaxime Cardol: Sister; Anna and Naz
GalleryMaxime Cardol: Sister; Van Hooff
About the Author
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 became online editor in 2022 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.