Sarah Lee’s intimate, iPhone XS-shot series captures Duke and Joe on holiday in Ibiza
Sarah Lee is a London-based photographer who, after several months working on commercial jobs – for clients including Transport for London, the National Theatre, and The Guardian – found herself on holiday in Ibiza with her friend Pippa Brooks and her two identical-twin sons Duke and Joe, who are about to turn 18.
Lee has photographed the boys for much of their lives, citing them as “incredibly photogenic”, and decided to do so again while on holiday, capturing them basking in the sun, jumping in the pool and looking out to sea.
Using her iPhone XS instead of her usual camera, the result is a beautiful black and white series which documents Duke (who is studying music production) and Joe (who is training to be a hair stylist and make-up artist) at an especially interesting time in their lives; when they’re transitioning from boys into men.
“The boys are 17 so are at that specific time in life when they are nearly grown up but haven’t quite finished yet,” Lee explains. “Sometimes they want to be immature, and other times they want to go out drinking and clubbing. I find it fascinating – because they’re not my kids so it felt almost like a study of watching these people at this very certain moment in their lives.”
While her choice to shoot on her iPhone wasn’t planned – Lee usually employs Leica, but dropped the lens on the first day of her trip – it did have unexpected upsides.
“It’s totally unobtrusive, it’s quick, lightweight, and that’s what I loved about it,” she recalls. “A Leica is quite unobtrusive, but a phone is even less so. We have them in our hands all the time so they are like a language. When people see a camera, people tend to put up a barrier and that’s even less so with a phone, and even less so because I know the boys so well.”
Lee also commented on the rapidly improving quality of phone cameras – once blurry or “throw away” as she says, many phones now have a quality that rivals that of professional cameras, while still maintaining the lightness and practicality of a phone.
Quietly beautiful, Lee’s series represents an intimate and honest study of two boys reaching the end of their adolescence – a pivotal and perhaps romantic time in human life.