"We pursue the same things," says Joseph, "not because the other one does it but because we're interested in the same things."
After both had married nurses and raised children (first-born boys and second-born girls), the next generation of Mainos went off to college, and the brothers found themselves with time on their hands. The passion they both discovered? Photography.
"We both like to take in what's around us and turn it into art," Joseph says, "and photography is a way to express our artistic side, as opposed to our medical and scientific sides."
Joseph's contributions to their upcoming exhibit, The Monozygotic Images of Maino², consist of work from the past two years -- mostly portraits and shots of architecture. "I'm calling it our coming-out party," he says, laughing. "It's the first time our work's been shown together."
It also will be the first time that both Maino brothers have seen their art side by side. "We meet up at least once or twice a year at an eye-doc meeting and go out and shoot for a day," Joseph says. But rarely do the brothers get to see the results from these outings. Dominick lives in Illinois, where he's a professor at the Illinois College of Optometry; Joseph photographs and works locally and is the chief of the optometry department at the Kansas City VA Medical Center.
Not surprisingly, both Mainos shoot with the same model of Canon digital camera (bought independently of each other). Neither has any formal art or photography training, but, Joseph explains, "As a doctor, I'm a trained observer. I see things people normally wouldn't see." This has quite an impact on his work. "A lot of times, my wife and I will be out shopping, or running errands, and I'll just fixate on someone or something, and she'll say, 'Stop staring!'"
Joseph's knowledge of optometry helps him understand the camera's similarities to the eye, with its lenses and refraction. It also inspires him.
During exams, he says, "We use a special drop called Fluress. It's a green dye that fluoresces under ultraviolet light and lets us check the pressures of the eye. I've always wanted to do a portrait with it, so I was able to con my daughter into being my model." The resulting portrait of his daughter's eyes shows them in eerie, otherworldly colors.
Not all of Joseph's pictures involve other people's eyes, though. One of his favorite subjects is the Liberty Memorial. "Depending on the day and the light," he says, "you get a different mood, and a feeling for what the memorial means and represents, as well as what Kansas City means and represents."
But what Joseph most gains from photography is simple. "I think everyone wants a way to express themselves -- and I have a basic tool to do that."