Couple, a noun, is defined by the English Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018) as:
1. two individuals of the same sort considered together. "a couple of girls were playing marbles"
synonyms: pair, duo, twosome, two;
2. two people who are married, engaged, or otherwise closely associated romantically or sexually.
synonyms: husband and wife, twosome, partners, lovers;
What is a couple? Why do two people form a union? This ongoing series is a visual exploration of couples I meet by chance on the street and who agree to be photographed. We make some small talk, I briefly explain the project, and ask them three questions:
1. Can I take a photograph of you both?
2. What are your first names?
3. How long have you been a couple or married?
I take two photographs, a couple, and use film so the subjects can not see the images immediately after. No posing is done besides having them stand in front of the camera, they can simply be themselves together.
For this series I am exploring the use of spontaneous unplanned portraits and looking at the dynamics of couples. Will the awkwardness of doing something quick and unexpected reveal something more about a subject? Can we really come to know anything more about these couples, or couples in general, from looking at the individual images? Or will examining the body of work as a whole reveal something about why we couple or why we don’t?
Black and white film is used as a metaphor for the dynamics of a couple, as film is not just made up of black and white but shade of grey. Just like things are not always black and white in a couple’s relationship, they are more often than not shades of grey, versions of the truth, rights and wrongs, and perspectives.
The choice of camera, a Mamiya C330 twin lens, is also intentional as it employs one lens to view and another lens to record the subject on film. I like this coupling as it speaks to the subjective and objective duality of photography. What can we trust about an image? What really can we glean from a photograph as they are split seconds plucked from reality and frozen in time. Do the images say more about the photographer, or does the viewer completely author their own meaning?
We all long to connect, to bridge a distance between others, one way we do this is to form relationships and one of the closest ones we can make is with a partner, a coupling. How much we give and take in that relationship is truly a reflection of who we are as people. A couple’s relationship is complicated and beautiful, thank you to all those who share a few split seconds of theirs with me.
English Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018) Definition of couple in English. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/couple. [Accessed 05 June 2018]
Machinski, J. (2018) Photograph of Mamiya C330. June 2018. Unpublished.
Machinski, J. (2018) Susan & Geoff 45 Years. June 2018. Unpublished.
Machinski, J. (2018) Vicki & Sean 2 1/2 Years. June 2018. Unpublished.
Machinski, J. (2018) Dany & Mike 32 Years. June 2018. Unpublished.
Machinski, J. (2018) Kate & Eamon 45 Years. June 2018. Unpublished.
Machinski, J. (2018) Conseulo & Laureano 34 Years. June 2018. Unpublished.
Mamiyaleaf.com (2010) Mamiya C330 Instructions. [Online image] Available at http://www.mamiyaleaf.com/assets/files/documentation/C330_Instructions.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2018]