For three years I have been photographing and interviewing couples who have been married for over 50 years. The project was inspired by a love letter that my grandfather wrote to my grandmother during World War II. The letter spoke of a young love, the type of love filled with joy and hopeful expectations for the life they were about to embark on together. It connected me to my grandfather, and his 59 year marriage, in a way that I hadn't been able to connect to him in life. By seeing his youth, through his love of my grandmother, I was able to more clearly see him.
I photograph these couples as a way to preserve their stories and to illuminate our universal experience of love. From the very beginnings of my career, I've sought out society's unseen population as a way to break down our own perceptions. I learned that photography, with it's unique ability to capture very intimate moments and details, could allow me to challenge perceived barriers between the viewer and the subject.
Most of the couples in my project were photographed in their own homes. They were asked questions like, Where was your first date? When did you know you were in love? Does love change over the years? You see them in their mirrors, standing in their living room, sitting on the antique couches that have been in the family for decades. The environment establishes a connection to the story. The quotes, which come directly from their own interview, give the photographs a voice and speak to our own collective histories. I am the photographer but it's they who are writing their own love stories through the recorded interviews.
We sit down and have the interview first before I take the photograph. I wait for the right moment. Maybe it's the way the husband looks at his wife, the way that she holds him, or maybe it's in the way one rests on the other's shoulder. This is the language that speaks of fifty years of marriage. This is love that can't be forced or faked. It is the connection and the portraits become evidence to support it.
"You really don't think about getting older. First of all, you're aging together and when you see a person constantly you don't notice big changes. Like you don't notice, oh you're getting a little wrinkle here and tomorrow you say oh it's a little deeper. No those are things that just happen. You dont pay attention to those things. You dont realize it.. really . You dont realize that you're.. I mean I'm not thinking everyday, oh my husband's 83 years old he's gonna be 84. Oh my goodness, I'm married to an old man. And I hope he feels that way too."
--Angie Terranova, Staten Island, New York (pictured above with husband Gino Terranova)
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