Discovering New Dimensions with Joe Pugliese, The Duffer Brothers, and Wired
It’s only been three days since Stranger Things 2 dropped on Netflix and thousands of viewers have already blasted through the whole season of television. And it’s surprising it’s taken even that long. When Stranger Things first debuted on Netflix last summer it was the breakaway hit, and with the second season only a few days old, expectations and anticipation for the third season are already becoming rabid. It’s all thanks to the Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross, identical twins and creative collaborators. All eyes are on the brothers as they bring us in their world, and Wired Magazine invited Joe Pugliese to photograph them for their latest issue.
The aesthetic of Stranger Things is unique and easily identifiable, but Joe wanted to avoid those tropes. “I didn’t want to freeze them in the show that they’re currently working on because I always feel like portraiture lives on long after the people we photograph are tied to a specific project,” Joe explains. “I wanted to allude to the work that they do which at the core is an exploration of dimension - different dimensions and things living on in other ways and in other places.” To reflect the idea of multiple dimensions, Joe had the brothers play with mirrors and then used those reflections as a kind of visual game with the camera.
Being identical twin brothers, there’s a lot of space to make visual jokes about reflections or similar looks, but Joe wanted to avoid all that. Instead, he found that all stereotypes about identical twins are completely absent from the way the brothers present themselves. As a photographer, it was his responsibility to present that in his work. “They don’t feel like identical twins in person. I actually wouldn’t guess that if I had met them, I would say maybe brothers or fraternal twins,” says Joe. “They don’t come off as really even the same kind of vibe.”
Those differences are crucial when collaborating. The two have known each other since conception and choose to work together every day, and their separateness ensures they better each other. But Joe is quick to point out that they’re perfect equals, and he wanted that to show in the imagery. “I didn’t want them to ever feel like interchangeable in the photo, but I also didn’t want there to be a lead and a non-lead in the image, so I took care to switch them around at will,” says Joe. “They don’t present themselves as interchangeable but they also don’t present themselves as one dominant, or one stronger personality than the other so I wanted to respect the fact that they are definitely on equal footing.” Luckily, Joe and the brothers were able to explore and try new things because Wired offers the creative freedom to get the right images.
“They are one of the few that gives me that much freedom to just guide it,” says Joe about Wired. The magazine, and photo editor Ruby Goldberg, support Joe in every way making it possible to create amazing photographs.