These Magical Photos About Sisterhood & Home Feel Like A Fairy Tale

Anyone who grew up near the countryside will agree that the landscapes of home have a special meaning – there’s magic in the fields and forests they roamed as a child, spending countless hours getting lost. This is especially true for Russian-born photographer Turkina Faso and her sister Alice, who grew up in a small town in the foothills of the North Caucasus, surrounded by vast expanses of rugged natural beauty and wilderness in the shadow of dramatic mountain peaks.

Faso is significantly older than her sister, so much so that she was already away studying by the time Alice was 2 years old, and so they found themselves having grown up in the same place – a place that fundamentally connected them – but nearly a whole childhood apart. "Both of our childhoods were full of love, surrounded by nature and with lots of freedom in this place," Faso says, "and we had both been instilled with this sense that you could find magic in the simplest of things, but our relationship was developing at a distance, which made it difficult."

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Wondering how to bridge that emotional gap between them, Faso turned to photography, and began making pictures of Alice as a way to connect with her. "Immediately, this made us closer in everyday life, we bonded over it, and it gave us a reason to spend time in this place that was important to each of us, playing with ideas for pictures and having fun."

Faso has now been photographing Alice regularly for over 10 years. Some of her images look like snapshots, as if she’s caught her sister in the middle of doing something; others are more in tune with glossy fashion editorials, no doubt inspired by Faso’s recent training as a fashion photographer at London College of Fashion. Now based in London full time, Faso has gone on to work as a photographer for brands and magazines including Bvlgari, Dazed and Vogue. Here, she talks to Refinery29 about capturing sisterhood, the beauty and tension of female adolescence, and the collaboration that made her.

Photographed by Turkina Faso.
Faso began to photograph her sister on trips back home, when she was already a student living away. "I was a teenager, she was still a very little child, and we just couldn’t interact normally. We wanted to spend time together but struggled to find things to bond over, so taking pictures became a sort of bridge between us – something we could do together and our thing to have in common."

She says she realised right away that Alice is a natural born model. "When she was just 2 years old, my boyfriend took a few pictures of her too, and we were blown away by how focused and concentrated for the camera she was, with this intense gaze. I’ve always felt like it’s been in her blood from the beginning, and I’ve just been there to capture it as she evolved."
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
One of the most interesting things Faso has found about photographing her sister is witnessing their differences and similarities as the years have unfolded. "When I was a teenager I loved going out with my friends, socialising, running around, drinking alcohol and being crazy. I was too fast and too much, generally, like I was in a rush to try and see and do everything as quickly as possible," Faso remembers.

"Alice is different. She’s more focused and she knows her goals, at least for now. She’s already worked as a model in Moscow by herself and she studies at college. The level of responsibility she has at her age is much higher than what I had. In some ways I feel like it’s possible to say that about her whole generation." She describes their photo shoots as a spontaneous character and a stable mind coming together to create something beautiful.
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
Though the girls grew up at different times, the landscape that surrounded their family home became a playground of endless potential they bonded over. The pictures Faso takes really capture this spirit, and often her sister is seen embedded in the flower fields or rivers they have explored together across the years.

"A lot of this was about capturing this essence of time passing by, of memories and nostalgia and our family heritage in this place," she explains. "I was aiming to capture moments of transformation, remembering myself as I was when I was Alice’s age, and imagining her once she got to mine."
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Photographed by Turkina Faso.
The pictures of Alice sit somewhere between film stills, candid documentary moments and high end fashion editorials. "When I began taking my first pictures I realised it was something akin to magical realism I was going for," she says. "The pictures are simple, but in small ways they transform reality. I take basic objects or scenes but show them from a new perspective, or in a new light. I do particularly love fashion, and that will often feed into the ways we stage pictures together." Faso has since used her sister as a model in her professional work, too.
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
That magical, mythical quality Faso speaks of carries through the pictures; often we’ll see horses roaming fields of flowers and ethereal glowing lights. Alice sometimes wears a red cape or holds roses – symbols that are gently reminiscent of fairytales, too. Faso says she was partly inspired by local legend and folklore and the stories they grew up being told, as well as elements of the personal family history that binds the girls together. "Some pictures are based on individual and shared memories of our grandmother, and we use things to relate to her in the pictures. The colour red always comes from that place and her memory, for example."
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
Faso points out other times this bright red appears, including an image of a scarlet cape flying off across the grass, which works as a sort of visual marker for the spirit of their grandmother. Elsewhere, we see it in the clothes Alice wears, the objects she holds, or the paint on her face.
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
When asked how she dreams up her ideas and makes them reality, Faso says: "I’ve always liked to plan shoots in advance – I love making sketches, recording voice memos, writing ideas down and putting together mood boards. I call it 'fake documentary', because it’s documenting my memories, but they’re in a sort of parallel reality because I’ve partly constructed them." As her sister has grown, she says that the dynamic between photographer and muse has evolved. "My work with Alice became much more of a collaboration when she hit 13 or 14, I think. Before, she was just posing and having fun with me. Now we work a little differently, and we plan projects together."
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
There is always room for spontaneity though, and sometimes, Faso explains, she will photograph her sister just to see how the light will hit her face, or how her body will look in a certain way, or how a candid moment between them will translate into a photograph. Some of her most powerful and evocative images are headshots of Alice staring straight into the lens.
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Photographed by Turkina Faso.
Faso says her main themes are "memories, nostalgia and explorations of reality" and some of her pictures of Alice tell whole stories in just one frame. We look at this one, and note how Alice looks like a character from a slick psychological horror film, so different from some of the other images in which she laughs playfully for the camera.
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
The period of female adolescence is particularly interesting to Faso, as she watches her sister grow up in the same place she grew up, and compares their experiences. "I’m really interested in the transition and transformation between girlhood and womanhood – that uneasy phase where you’re no longer a child but not yet an adult, and you’ve got whole universes swimming about in your mind as you look towards the future. Everything changes, your body changes, but you’ve still got doubts and dreams you haven’t worked through yet," she says. "I feel really privileged to have been able to capture some of that experience in Alice as she’s grown."
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
When asked to pick out her favourite picture, Faso points to this one. "This is Alice in the blue water of our local swimming pool. Both of us spent so much time here in our childhoods, and each of us has floods of memories of happy family times spent there, so it’s a really special place." Alice’s face is lit up in almost cinematic style as the water glistens around her. It’s another one of those images that seems to tell a whole story.
Photographed by Turkina Faso.
It is now well over 10 years since Faso has been taking pictures of her sister, and she credits it with bringing them closer together in ways she doesn’t think would have been possible otherwise. "This has been like our friendship tool throughout the years as we’ve both changed – it’s held us together." Faso can’t see her collaboration with her sister stopping any time soon and says they still shoot together almost every month. Each time they get back together – now both young women – they still run through the landscapes they grew up in at different times, talking ideas for pictures and playing together in front of, and behind, the lens.
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