September 30, 2019

Greg’s Unforgotten Memories: a life left in China

Joined at birth, separated since. Greg Lin Jiajie and his identical twin brother spent their childhood together in Longwan in China before diving into the world in different directions. After years apart, Greg returned to his hometown to relive a life he left behind. Here, he talks us through that journey through pictures created using the new Polaroid Lab.

“Growing up with a twin is an interesting experience. We were lucky that we always had each other’s back. We were never lonely. 

But at the same time we had our own struggles. Being compared and being mistaken all the time was not very nice. We were being seen as ‘the twins’.

As we both grew older, our lives were never the same again. We had different friends, went to different schools, and I moved to New Zealand and then to the UK, while he remained in China. 

Since being apart and living separate lives influenced by different cultures, we now speak with different with accents. And although we are still the same height and have the same body shape, nowadays it’s much easier for people to tell us apart.

Shooting this project was not only for the pictures, but to recreate my journey growing up with my twin brother. I wanted to recreate the best moments with him from my memories and to bond with him once again.

My mom used to be a tailor and we used to play with her tools. We were recreating this memory in this picture, I guess.

My mom always put us in the exact same outfit every single day. I remember we would go out to the park and people would stare at us and they would say “Look: twins”. I felt like we were freak shows. I think the moment we were old enough to pick out our own clothes, we just never wore the same thing ever again.

We thought it would be funny to wear the same thing again, interestingly enough I thought we looked really cool in the matching outfits this time. I didn’t hate it at all. I quite liked it actually.

Behind this window is our dinner table. When we were little we used to fight over this window seat at dinner all the time. I don’t remember why, but we both really liked the window seat.

My brother is always a step ahead of me. He learned to ride a motorbike before me, and he learned to drive a car way before me. When we were about 13 years old to 15 he would take me on his motorbike if he felt like it. We weren’t really going anywhere, and he didn’t even have a license to drive, but it was really fun to just be on the motorbike.

We, Chinese people, don’t really hug. I don’t remember ever hugging my brother. When we were taking this picture I felt a little awkward around him. I’m pretty sure he felt the same way too.

People always ask: ‘do you ever feel the other one’s presence? Or share emotions or anything like that?’ I never do, but this time around, somehow I feel complete. Shooting this project back home was definitely one of the happiest times in my life. And from that, I realized how different we are now as two individuals.

Even though we look very similar, it was very interesting to get an insight into his life and his thoughts on things. I’m very happy with who am I now, and of course, I’m proud of who he is.

It almost felt magical being there with him. Everywhere looked so familiar, the place really hadn’t changed that much. It was like walking down memory lane. I definitely felt a lot closer to him after the trip. 

Sometimes a picture is just a picture; it’s the moment in the picture that makes it all special. And by having this moment of me and my twin brother together, it will always remind me who we are.”

– Greg Lin (@greg.lin)

Unforget with the

new Polaroid Lab