“The constancy of love makes it possible to overcome the difficulties,” writes Birmingham-based writer Rachel Segal Hamilton in Love Story. Positive interactions are fundamental to physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, with a 2022 analysis from The Lancet suggesting that poor socialisation leads to cognitive decline. Fortunately, an increasing number of individuals are forming long-lasting, supportive communities. In 2022, 86.8% of adults in the UK believed there was someone they could depend on in a time of need. But what do relationships look like in the 21st century, and how do artists document them?
These are the questions posed by Hoxton Mini Press’ latest artbook. Love Story showcases 23 photographers whose work records deep connections. Here, images become memories, experiences of closeness sealed within the frame like time capsules.International practitioners, from Jess T. Dugan to Lisa Sorgini, come together to challenge perceptions of modern-day relationships. This includes understandings of platonic and romantic attachments, reservations of online dating and caring for strangers. The collection is a celebration of love in all forms, navigating attachments “between partners of all genders and generations, friends, siblings, parents and children, and communities.”
The publication demonstrates how longing for bond is a disposition shared by humanity. British documentary and portrait photographer Curtis Hughes draws attention to this in Modern Love, which captures moments of intimacy between couples who met through the internet. In Lucy & Eduardo (2022), sunlight frames a pair hugging in a minimalist bedroom. Lucy stares down the lens, bearing witness to the documentation of this private embrace. In other images, couples hold hands or lean against one another, their eyes closed. There are 323 million users of dating apps worldwide, however, people are still hesitant to legitimise relationships forged online. In 2022, 46% of surveyed Americans thought that online dating was less successful than meeting someone in person. Hughes’ series counters these beliefs, becoming a testament to the strength of relationships that begin virtually.
Elsewhere, Andreas Reeg captures the joy of familial love. Lunch and Tidy Up depict 78-year-old twins Franz and Otto who have lived together since birth. The photographer highlights the brother’s link through images of their daily routine: gardening; making breakfast; washing the dishes. Moments of domesticity depict the simultaneous beauty and simplicity of their kinship. The house they have shared for almost eighty years is more than the quiet backdrop to their lives; it is the embodiment of their connection. Likewise, Paddy Summerfield highlights life-long commitment in a monochromatic candid shot of his elderly parents. In each image, Summerfield draws attention to small, everyday actions that are performed with an abundance of care, such as his father guiding his mother down the garden.
Several creatives in the book take an alternative approach, calling attention to fleeting moments of love. Richard Renali, for example, invites participants to show compassion beyond familial borders by posing with someone they’ve never met. The resulting staged portraits, such as Aaron and Ava, reflect an individual’s willingness to put themselves out for a stranger. Elsewhere, Erica Reade becomes an outside observer to a pair lounging on a New York beach in My Kind of Stripes (2022). Their lives remain anonymous – depicting only their entwined legs – to serve as a remind that a photograph is never a complete story.
Throughout, Love Story exposes the beauty and vulnerability inherent in relationships. Images reveal the universal desire to create accepting, inclusive and meaningful environments, leaving viewers to reflect on their own interactions with loved ones. Personal narratives are weaved into documents of tenderness, showcasing what it means to depend on one another, no matter what.
Published by Hoxton Mini Press | hoxtonminipress.com
Words: Megan Jones
1. Curtis Hughes, Lucy & Eduardo, London, (January 2022). Courtesy Hoxton Mini Press.
2. Lisa Sorgini, Camilla and Ellie, Far North Queensland, (2019). Courtesy Hoxton Mini Press.
3. Jess T. Dugan, Kelli and Jen, St. Louis, Missouri, (2017). Courtesy Hoxton Mini Press.
4. Deanna Dikeman, Leaving and Waving, (July 1991). Courtesy Hoxton Mini Press.