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Photographer Chris Capozziello takes a photo of his brother, Nick. (Chris Capozziello)

Brotherhood, Pictures And Life With Cerebral Palsy

by Coburn Dukehart
Dec 10, 2013

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Coburn Dukehart

Chris Capozziello was born first. And five minutes later, Nick arrived.

"Things seemed fine, but they were not fine," says Chris.

Nick had cerebral palsy.

The rest of the story unfolds slowly over time. Chris develops normally. Nick suffers from painful cramps that distort his body, and lives at home with his parents, rarely leaving his room. Chris becomes a photojournalist, traveling the country on assignment. They are now 33 years old.

Thirteen years ago, Chris started documenting his brother's life. He never intended to share the photos, but says they were a way of helping him to understand his brother's condition, as well as dealing with the overwhelming guilt of being the "normal" twin.

In graduate school, Chris started showing the pictures to friends, who encouraged him to share them with a wider audience. The result is the new book The Distance Between Us, which was recently released in the U.S.

The black-and-white images are an unflinching look at hardship, pain and guilt. They show Nick during his cramps, which can last for minutes — or hours. They show him undergoing brain surgery, with mixed results. They also show him getting out of the house and enjoying life as best he can. It's a story of brothers who are bound together both by need and by love.

Last year, Chris took Nick on a road trip through the American West. The last section of the book showcases both Chris' color images, as well as some of Nick's snapshots.

"The pictures aren't worth money, [but] they are priceless," says Nick.

Chris recently moved to a house a few miles from his parents' home in Connecticut so he can be near Nick as much as possible. He is continuing to document their life together.

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