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Eric Mueller is particularly interested in family
resemblances—a little more than your average
person might be. “When you’re an adoptee,”
as this Minneapolis photographer is, he says,
“it’s something you crave. You want a physical
manifestation of the love you feel for your
family.” Some years ago when he tracked
down a photo of his birth mother, Mueller was
so taken by the resemblance he shared with
her that he couldn’t help but burst into tears.
That moment spurred “Family Resemblance,”
a no-frills documentary project begun last
August that captures genetics in all their
beautiful and occasionally amusing forms.
Starting with two of his oldest friends,
brothers, Mueller posted the photos he shot
in his studio on Facebook and delighted in
the requests that poured in. He decided on
a straightforward approach: Wearing white
in front of a white background, subjects are
asked to sit in specific poses to highlight
their physical similarities, as well as play
around together to observe their matching
mannerisms. “Often the photos where the
volunteers come up with the pose is the
strongest,” Mueller attests. “I had two rosy-
cheeked brothers who, when I asked if there
was anything they wanted to do, replied, ‘We
want to choke each other like Bart Simpson.’
For that photo, which is one of my favorites,
I was just along for the ride.”
After the 20-minute sessions, free
prints are handed to the participants—who
nowadays (for the most part) are people that
Mueller’s meeting for the first time. “Every
time I open up time slots for shooting, they
fill up within a day,” says the photographer,
who hopes to turn the project into a book
and exhibition once he reaches a “critical
mass” (he’s got 75 groups and counting).
Until then, you can find Mueller in his studio.
Go to rangefinderonline.com for Mueller’s gear setup as well as an extended gallery.