“Fault Line” is a story about my family. The protagonist is my younger cousin Adam. It takes place in Brooklin, Maine, where he lives. I have been working on this project intensively since 2013.

It was then that I went to visit Adam and was overwhelmed by his intelligence, humor, and vulnerability. I couldn’t help but feel connected to him. We understood each other in a way no one else in the family did. I felt like he was my stand-in, my double. When we started taking pictures, we both wanted to make the same images; I didn’t have to explain anything.

In 2013, I had already been estranged from my father for seven years. I wanted to return to a family base to understand what had happened. I wanted to make images that expressed moments from the past: moments of conflict, isolation, and despair. I also wanted to express our desire to connect to our family and to belong to something. I chose the surreal landscape of Brooklin, sandwiched between the coast and the dense forest, to begin exploring these fragments from my childhood. I used Adam as my model. Over the years, I also began to incorporate myself, my brother, my aunt, my cousins, and finally my father into the images.

From the series “Fault Line” © Sophie Barbasch

Growing up, there were many things I was not allowed to express: saying things out loud caused conflict. This is, in large part, why I turned to photography. In my images, I refer to this, but it is indirect. Faces, especially eyes, are hidden in many of my photographs. In this sense, the images contain duality, at once showing the subject and keeping the subject ambiguous, distant, and separate from the viewer.

In this way, I hope to disrupt photography’s indexical nature; I hope that the images are more about what is not shown, about the unknown, than what is known. I am trying to develop a portraiture that is more about hiding than revealing. I want the images to function like a dream that hints at the truth without disclosing it.

—Sophie Barbasch

If you’d like to see more work like this, we’d recommend these previous articles: Maiden Voyage, a unique photobook filled with “gilded tableaux of pure delightful uncertainty”; The Prevailing Winds of Hills and Heritage, a personal look at the deeply rooted heritage of Appalachia; and Universal Experience, monumental landscape photographs that address our universal need for authenticity in an increasingly manufactured world.