This tender side-by-side image of Anna Christine Larson’s two daughters, Semenesh, 5, (left) and Haven, 3, (right) inspired a photo series showing that love knows no boundaries. (Photo: Anna Christine Larson/Anna Christine Photography)
As a family and birth photographer by trade, Anna Christine Larson is always snapping candid photos of her own young children happily at play.
But it was an especially poignant shot taken last December of Larson’s two daughters lying on a bed facing each other with soft smiles that really struck Larson in a new way.
“I took the photo while they were playing on the bed, and in it I noticed they had such a strong resemblance to each other, like they were twins,” Larson, of Olympia, Washington, tells Yahoo Parenting.
In many families, two daughters who resembled each other wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. But Larson’s two girls aren’t related to each other by blood. Younger daughter Haven, now 3, is Larson and husband Kelly’s biological daughter, while Semenesh, now 5, is the couple’s daughter by adoption from Ethiopia. (The family also includes Larson and Kelly’s 9-year-old biological son, Judah.)
Considering the girls’ physical features, you’d expect them to appear very different. But as the photos reveal, they almost are like twins, mimicking each other’s expressions and radiating the same gentle sweetness.
After thinking about it for several months, Larson realized this photo and others she had taken of her girls over the past two years could convey something about race, love, and family.
Haven, 18 months, and big sister Semenesh, 3, are best friends and sisters (Photo: Anna Christine Larson/Anna Christine Photography)
So last week, Larson went to work going through her collection of family photos and put together a series called Barely Different, which can be viewed on her website and Instagram and Facebook pages. About 50 photos of Semenesh and Haven are included in the series, each showing the girls to be the best friends and sisters they are.
“They play together all day and are full of imagination, and they get along so well,” says Larson. “They are just as the photos reveal them to be—most of the shots are candid.”
Larson hopes Barely Different makes a statement about how little physical differences matter, and that people of all different races and ethnic backgrounds can bond after realizing how similar we all are beneath our skin.
“When we grow beside one another, our similarities bloom—it’s not skin that makes us different or that causes separation, it’s lack of unity,” says Larson. “We’re all individuals, but at root we’re all human.”
The bathtub is just another place to play for these two girls (Photo: Anna Christine Larson/Anna Christine Photography)
So far, the reception Larson has received for her photo series has been overwhelmingly positive. She considers Barely Different to be an ongoing project; she’ll add new photos of her daughters to the series as she takes them.
As for Semenesh and Haven, these two girls from different parts of the world absolutely love looking at the photos of themselves having a blast, and some even hang in their bedrooms.
“They remind the girls of the fun times they’ve had together as inseparable friends and sisters,” says Larson, who hopes viewers embrace the girls’ spirit and accept others as brothers and sisters as well.
As Barely Different reveals, “the more time we spend with each other, the more our similarities come out,” she says.