The Story of Two Identical Twin Photojournalists

Photojournalists and identical twin brothers David and Peter Turnley travel around the world covering news stories, from the Middle East to Africa to China and beyond. Between the two of them, they cover almost every major event and have been present at many of recent history’s wars, tragedies, and victories, including Tiananmen Square, the Gulf War, and Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Featured in a 60 Minutes segment entitled “Double Exposure” that aired in 1996, the Turnley brothers describe how they got their unlikely start in photojournalism and their parallel journeys to success.

“For many of their colleagues in the media, the true measure of a story’s importance is whether it’s a one- or a two-Turnley story.”

The brothers discovered their passion for professional photography in almost accidental manner when they were 17, after Peter got a camera, seeking a new hobby after a football injury expelled him from the sport for a season. Both David and Peter took to the pastime quickly, taking turns shooting photos of their friends and neighbors. Within a year and half, they had compiled a professional portfolio, so David hopped on his first plane, spontaneously flying from Indiana to New York to try to present their photography to some of the industry’s leading publishers. Some of their early photography can be seen below:

photojournalism in Indiana

The Turnley brothers often work together, and are not above using their identical looks to their professional advantage, but also have successful careers in their own right. David has received a Pulitzer Prize for his photography and Peter (though exempt from winning a Pulitzer because he works at a magazine) has had his photography featured on more than thirty Newsweek front covers.

photojournalism Newsweek covers

“Confronting war, famine, and human suffering on a regular basis is the most taxing part of the job. What keeps them [the Turnley brothers] going is the belief that their pictures can make a difference, that the world needs to know about the places they’ve been, and that photography is a voice to scream about everything they’ve seen.”

photojournalism, Middle Eastphotojournalism, Africa

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