It’s funny how life gets in the way. This photoshoot is all the way back in 2015 as part of my European Love Story journey through Europe. I finally found the time to post this blog, and it is important, as this turned out to be the most important photoshoot I would conduct.
I am not someone that really believes much in fate, but today may have just changed my mind. I came on this journey to document stories of romantic love in some of the most romantic cities in the world. Being in Positano, I had organised to walk the famous Walk of the Gods high up with birds eye views of the beautiful Amalfi coastline. I had a couple booked for tomorrow as part of the ‘A European Love Story’ shoot and so my schedule for Positano was full, or so I thought.
My assistant and I waited for a bus to take us to Amalfi for 20 minutes only for it not to stop at all due to overcrowding, and an ever growing traffic jam that would have seen my assistant and I commencing the hike too late in the morning. Therefore we decided to reorganise the walk for the following day, leaving at a much earlier time to avoid the traffic delays. As fatigue of the last few weeks had begun to catch up with me, I decided that we would spend some time by the hotel pool, and I could catch up on the 17,000 photos that desperately needed my attention.
Then fate set in. While lounging on a deckchair we met Cinda and Alan, an American couple who were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to Europe. A simple conversation turned into hours of discussing family and our lives. Their son in law is in the military and having spent 15 years also in the military we soon began to discuss the reasons for this project. I told them that whilst I needed to grow as an artist, I really had hoped to find couples to document stories of love.
Love is a complicated topic, not one that could adequately be covered by a single blog post or even a two month journey through Europe. It is something some would link to romance and passion, and quite rightly. The couples that I have so far had the privilege to shoot for this documentary project have certainly been in love. They have ranged from couples dating to those married for a few years. Today fate delivered a truly unique love story.
As I began to hear the stories of their family and they heard the stories of my need to find love I decided to offer to do a casual shoot on our hotel balcony that afternoon, which they gratefully accepted. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much. I thought we would take a few photos for them and that would be it.
Something changed though. I saw a couple that demonstrated love, humility, humour, and genuine affection for one another and I suddenly realised that this was the shoot I had come to Europe to find. Cinda and Alan have generously shared some of their earlier family photos and the following Alan wrote on their Facebook page on the date of their 40th Wedding Anniversary:
Alan’s Facebook Post to Cinda on their Anniversary
The first time I saw her she was sitting at a piano.
The song was forgettable, the face was not.
Prettiest face I had ever seen.
But she wasn’t just another pretty face.
As I would discover over the next 40 years, behind the face was …
a FAITH to carry us through the valleys;
a SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE to embrace moving 11 times, to six states and 2 continents;
a SENSE OF STYLE that turned 6 mere houses into beautiful homes;
enough GODLY WISDOM to turn two children into responsible adults;
and patient, LOVING-KINDNESS to turn one ?overly confident young man into an adoring husband!!
Celebrating 40 years of marriage today in The Eternal City . . .
To say I was touched would be an understatement. Even now writing this post tears are beginning to well in my eyes. I had finally found a love story in the most unlikely of circumstances that would renew my faith in humanity and genuine self-sacrificing love that comes from a lifetime of loving another person.
I have seen enough heartache and tragedy to fill ten lifetimes through my military medical career, and today saw the beginning of healing a heart scarred by war and restoration of faith in humanity.
To Cinda and Alan, you had no idea how much your story touched my heart and began to heal a wounded soul. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing me to photograph you. I know that these photos will live on in the wonderful family you have raised. I am eternally grateful for our time spent together and the profound effect it has had on me. I wish you another 40 years of happiness together.
So today fate brought the story I needed. A story to inspire me to continue to shoot those that are at the beginning of their love story, whether it be a couples shoot, an engagement shoot, a wedding, or a newborn shoot. It also made me excited to find couples to shoot in the later years of marriage, as I would find a level of genuine admiration for love that can survive for decades in today’s world.
Often during a journey your destination is clear. Today I learnt an important lesson in life, the journey may change the destination, and that can be all the more rewarding.
I expected both the journey and destination to be readily clear. The journey I can say was nothing like I expected and the path often seemed unclear, but the destination has been achieved through a truly unexpected twist of fate.