My love for photographing weddings and engagements has grown exponentially these past three years. I still find my heart leaping at the first kiss and my eyes tearing at the first dance. I’m guess I’m really just a hopeless romantic. It’s an unbelievable honor to be able to photograph these marriages in the springtime of their love. So much so, that I’ve recently begun thinking to myself that it would be just as much an honor and so beautiful to photograph marriages in their winter as well.
My grandparents were married for 50 years before my grandfather passed away in 2002. Their story, their history, and their marriage have always been a curiosity to me. It’s an accomplishment, being married that long, but it’s not merely the longevity that I admire so much. I think it’s the love and caring that I still saw in their eyes. It’s not the devouring, fevered love that you see in a newlywed couple, but a peaceful pairing that makes it unimaginable to picture them apart. My husband, Andy and I are still relatively new at this marriage business by comparison. This Thursday, we proudly celebrate 15 years together and truly look forward to our years to come. And maybe that’s why this is so personal.
Recently, I read that only six percent of marriages make it past 50 years. They are the true six percenters. After reading that, I wanted to know who they were and what they looked like. Are they still in love like my grandparents? Are they weary? Are they endlessly challenged by each other? Or do they have it all figured out…
That’s why I’ve begun this journey. I want to tell their stories, show their faces, and to honor their marriages.
My first couple, Gil and Carolyn, married on January 26th, 1944 when Gil served in the Navy in World War II. He still proudly displays her picture given to him the year before they married on the antique mirror of his dresser. Even 50 years together is an accomplishment to celebrate and Gil and Carolyn have been married for 69. The way they look at each other, touch hands, and laugh together, their love almost made me feel like I was intruding. It’s personal and deep. Their humor and playfulness with one another moved me greatly. I came away from photographing them with a deeper love and appreciation for the road Andy and I are on and with an excitement to meet more of the six percenters.
Gil and Carolyn generously offered this advice to me… and I pass it along to you.
Carolyn said, “Never go to bed mad. We’ve stuck to that pretty well. Respect each other’s feelings. Just say I forgive you and get on with it. So much is insignificant.”
Gil went on to say… “I never thought we would live this long. We just go together. I wouldn’t be much good without her.”