It all started with a spontaneous photo request. Photographer Nicholas Nixon, who was married to one of the three sisters, asked them to stand in for a quick family photo. What was supposed to be a one time photo opportunity, became a yearly tradition these women, and now us, cherish.
One year later, once again, the sisters found themselves taking a similarly styled photo. We are not sure what prompted the field setup but it’s a beautiful one at that. It also may only be a year later, but the sister’s style is already evolving into a more lady-like manner. We will see throughout their evolution, that the sisters are very similar in their style, we guess it runs in the family.
This snap was taken in Harvard, Massachusetts. Yes, at THE Harvard University. We aren’t sure if only one, or all four, of the sisters went to the prestigious university, but either way it’s a very impressive feat for anyone’s family, especially for the year this photo was taken, when most of the university’s students were male. Their serious faces gleam with scholastic aptitude, or perhaps there was a sisterly quarrel right before the photo was taken? We will never know.
Summer in Harwich Port, Massachusetts; also known as where the wealthy go for summer rest and relaxation. The ladies look comfortable in their short sleeved shirts at the beach resort. We assume they come from a well to-do family seeing as only those kind of families were the ones who vacationed in such a place. The reputation of this summer location preceded it, hosting many a famous people of the 70s.
The end of the 70s are upon the lovely set of sisters. This is the fifth year the photo had been taken so far and the tradition seems to be keeping. We can now see a true change in the girls from the first photo. They began this photographic journey as young ladies, when at this point they are becoming full-grown adults. Just wait until you see the remaining photos, the transformation is astonishing.
Ah the 80s. The sisters got together for this years photo in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. East Greenwich is also considered as a very upscale place to hang out in, again, making us assume these ladies were on the wealthier side of the spectrum. We can only assume it is still summertime, since the four are wearing short sleeved shirts. This years photo shows their ever-growing bond, even a hint of a smile!
Seven years in, we aren’t sure why they decided to keep the tradition of taking a yearly photo, perhaps it was a joke in the family by this point, or they really did want to document their lives as the years go by. It seems as though they like to take these photos in the summer too, the girls are all wearing shorts and have a rather agitated look on their faces; the heat maybe?
So much for our summer theory. The sisters decided to go for a winter theme in their ’82 yearly photo. Which we find to be a very refreshing and endearing change on their part. Apart from the seasonal change, the normally blonde sister has changed her tune to brunette to accommodate the winter feel. Again, their style is ever-morphing into a very up to date version of their young selves.
Aaaand back to summer. The sisters should have thought to start a band or something, this yearly photo looks almost like a cover photo for a CD (or cassette a the time). The middle sister even has a bit of a Joan Jett vibe going on! There is a sort of pattern with each individual sister though, the short hair on one, the blonde hair on the other, yet all four have a similar dressing style.
This photo is taken in the same location as the winter photo from two years before, except that it’s summer this time. Be gone giant sweaters and look of frost! What we do have, that’s a first for these photos, is Nicholas Nixon’s shadow in the background, it’s almost like we know him at this point. We are not sure if it was an artistic choice to finally be a part of the photo in some way but his added shadow does add another dimension to the photo.
Anniversary photo! It has been ten years since the original first photo had been taken. The girls are now women, more confident and stylish than ever. The photos only differ in their location in the photo and perhaps a few lines here and there. They are still as beautiful as ever. So to those who worry about aging quickly, just take a look at these photos, year and year, the difference is not as prominent as you would think after ten years!
Back in 1986, color film was already available. However, for some reason, which we choose to love in this series of photos, the images remain in black and white. Not only does it keep the collection unified in its artistic style, but it gives the photos a more serious and meaningful tone. Even today, when we snap a photo with our smart phone, the black and white option always makes the photo more special.
We’re beginning to see the difference in the sisters. Their facial expressions range from serious to a slight smile, and their age is beginning to show a bit. It has been over a decade since the first photo, so it makes sense that their appearance would begin to (finally) alter a bit. Either way, the sisters must take very good care of themselves considering their appearance, although has changed, the difference is not as distinct as we thought it would be.
Smiles all around! The first photo where all four sisters are smiling, quite a vision. Their look is looking pretty feathered, keeping up with the times, it was the 80s after all. This year was the end of the Reagan years, and change was bound to make an appearance in the United States. We wonder if there was also a total change in how the sisters would look? Maybe there was…
Another photo, another decade gone. Closing out the 80s just as they did the 70s, the sisters look almost the same. You can tell who is the eldest sister and who the youngest, though. The four of them seem as inseparable as ever. The location of each one in the photo is also the same almost every year, making us wonder that when they are in a different formation, perhaps it was for a reason. So mysterious. Are we reading too much into this?
The sister’s yearly photo to kick off the 90s takes place in Woodstock, Vermont. Even without color we can tell it’s a beautiful Fall afternoon, already chilly, but not yet winter temperatures, otherwise the clothing would show us some seriously bulkier coats and sweaters. It’s quite a sight to see these sisters grow in front of our very eyes. Year after year, photo after photo. By this point the photo taking tradition is one they can’t stop.
Once again we find the sisters near Watertown, Massachusetts, which is a very well off area to be found in, since the sisters are now adults, we can continue to assume that they also married well. It seems as though the sisters have each found economic comfort as their lives grew farther along. Runs in the family. Each photo we go farther into it makes us more and more interested to know more about these sisters.
The first pregnancy in a yearly photo! We aren’t sure if this is the first sister to get pregnant, although it is the youngest one, but it’s the first we see of it. The touching moment of a sister pressing her hand to other’s belly seems very emotional in the captured moment. See now we are REALLY interested in the sisters lives beyond these photos; what they did for a living, who they married, how many kids they had…
1993 was the beginning of the Clinton administration. Just thought we’d refresh your memory, as it was an interesting time for the United States, and for the sisters. The 80s fashion is slowly going out of style as the 90s kicks in (whether a good thing or not). Baggy jackets and sweaters has always been the sister’s fashion choice for the cooler weather, and they are showing no sign of changing their ways any time soon.
Talk about a close up. This photo is the closest one to the sister’s faces, interesting how of all the photos, the photographer decided to do a closer one in 1994. We aren’t sure the reasoning behind the decision to make this one so close, but the sister on the center left side is not having it, her nervous look giving her away. We all would be a bit skittish about having a photo of us taken from that close up.
Twenty years later! The sisters finally look much more relaxed in front of the camera (only took the twenty years). The sisters on the outer ends of the photo almost look like twins at this stage, we wonder if they look more like their mom or their dad. We can’t believe it’s been twenty years since the first photo was taken. We’re sure the sisters didn’t think this photo tradition would last this long. Amazing!
Another photo with the photographer’s shadow in the image, this time right on the four sisters standing there. The year is 1996, and so it is officially the mid-90s, that means there is plenty of tweed, knit wear and big hair. Each sister is different in her own right, but all four possess the 90s fashion characteristics mentioned before. Somehow though, they make it all look great. Where was their advice when we needed it back then?
Twenty two years of yearly photos and not one sister has missed the opportunity to be in one – now that’s commitment. They must share a bond that most sisters would die for. It surely is an important yearly occasion at this point. We are thinking that they must all live nearby to one another, considering that back them airfare was much more expensive. Then again, we did guess that the sisters are also pretty well off.
This one must be at the beach. No idea what season it is, each sister is wearing a different shirt! One is with a sweater, another is with a short sleeve shirt. Their hair is flying away in unison and the look on their faces is as classic ‘them’ as ever. We wonder what it’s like to see photo after photo, year after year when you’re the one in the photo. Such a digital timeline.
Black and white photography, although a classic style of photography, is not the most forgiving camera feature. The sister’s lines and creases are enhanced by the use of it, each one at her own pace, but nevertheless, they look downright regal. The sense of respect and awe towards the eldest sister is shown in this photo, the sisters coming around her in a way, forming her as the focus of the photo.
Bring on the 21st century! To ring it in, the sisters’ took the yearly photo on yet another beach. Their wind swept hair is blowing so wildly that the camera had trouble focusing on their hair (hence the blurriness). The chilly weather on the beach was a good excuse for the sisters to cuddle in for the photo. The beach seems important to the girls, we think it has to do with where they grew up and spent the majority of their time.
This seems like Fall, and in the Fall of 2001, America was struck with a monumental tragedy, with the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon. The sisters serious look is the usual one but it takes on a different vibe for some reason, a more distressed vibe. They are standing in a stance that is similar to one of a moment of silence. This is the first photo that shows so much of their bodies. Artistic choice?
Hawaiian shirts and tank tops? Interesting fashion choices for the sisters this time around. Let’s be honest though, the early 2000’s were not the best time in terms of fashion trends for anyone in the world. The sister’s look pretty great in comparison. Here we also see the sudden difference in the sisters – their heights, body type, style, and age. Somehow though, they always put up a united front, making their differences less noticeable.
The sisters sure love the coast. We wonder if they live there as well. Either way it’s summer again, and the sisters are once again at their yearly photoshoot. Such consistency, so admirable! Notice that they are always with their backs to the water, making sure there is no home or landmark behind them, the choice was probably for the photos focus feature, the girls, rather than anything else. We’re sure they never thought their photos would be an internet sensation.
Interesting one, this one. One sister is looking away, one cut her hair very short and another has her wild curls on display. Unique side note – the photos are still being taken with an old fashion film camera, rather than the already existing digital camera. Many photographers preferred film to digital at this stage because of the quality of the image, the type of control they had in development. This was before the age of the smart phone, so filtering and editing were not what they are today.
Thirty years. It has been thirty years since the first photo had been taken. The trend of one sister looking away is still there and the youngest one still as tiny as ever! These four are a true inspiration when it comes to sibling love and rivalry. The scenery behind them is different for once though. They are not at the beach or by the woods, they are at what seems like a lakefront or reservoir. Maybe a new and special location for the thirtieth year photo.
One looking away (again) and the rest have smiles on their faces. It’s 2006, and the sisters are showing their age little by little. In this case the wrinkles are showing the lives these sisters live when not in front of this camera once a year. They are back at the woods area, sitting rather than their usual standing. These subtle changes from photo to photo are not just about the sisters, but about the locations and positions as well.
Back to basics. The four siblings are looking directly into the camera, all seem relaxed and cheerful, while showing us what graceful aging looks like. The black and white really seems like it stops time altogether, a true moment frozen in time. Like we said earlier, the black and white photography method is not forgiving, showing the wrinkles on each of their faces, but they aren’t old somehow, just wiser.
Changing up the scenery for the first time in a long time. The sisters took this photo in Dallas, Texas. The departure from the Northeastern part of the United States almost changes the way the sisters look in this photo. Just goes to show what different lighting and background give to an image. Once again, the eldest sister is the focus of the picture. For some reason it looks as though they are comforting her in some way, it’s the way the other sisters hand is on her maybe.
Back in their familiar Massachusetts, the sisters take their photo in their usual bunched up positions. The older the sisters get, the more they seem to look like one another. It’s amazing that they all manage to meet up every year, as we are not sure where each of them lives; hopefully near-by. It would be a very neat idea for the sisters children, assuming they have them, would also do this kind of yearly photo; it is such a keepsake.
A few more grey hairs and lines, but these sisters are still the same ladies they had always been. Main difference is that the sister on the right is closing her eyes, seemingly relishing in her sisters company. Each year, the poses change slightly, the weather is a shade different, the clothes, the hair, the background – they all change. The one constant are the sisters, they are all always there.
Two sisters looking away and two sisters looking right in front towards the camera. The composition of the photo is also slightly different, from the side rather than the front, giving the impression of division between the sisters. We’re sure it was only an artistic choice, rather than sibling rivalry. Amazing how this photo captures the difference and similarity of the sisters at the same time. Man was he one talented photographer!
Hugging it out like never before. Each year the sisters seems to change up their hand placements. This year they opted for the cuddle session. We’re loving their close knit vibe in this one. With age comes wisdom, and their wise thinking is all about family. We would take each photo and frame it along a wall in our house if this was our yearly family photo. Maybe this is inspiration for other to do this kind of tradition too!
Age is definitely showing, but their eyes have the youthful sparkle they always possessed. The photo itself is darker than the others, using the lighter parts of the photo to show the sisters’ faces very clearly. They stark appearance of this photo is very deep, as are the women in their more mature form. It seems as though they are trying to deliver a message through their look. We wonder what they would tell us.
Emotional, raw, intimate, and loving. These sisters show more solidarity to one another than every before. In this photo we see the sisters stand in the same way with one another, there is no one standing out, just total union as a family. We followed their lives through their yearly photos, seeing them as though they were a part of our own family, or maybe as if we are part of theirs.