Love in the Hills

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An excerpt below from an Atlantic article by Emily Esfahani Smith covering the new book by Barbara Fredrickson and the changing idea of love.

“Fredrickson, a leading researcher of positive emotions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents scientific evidence to argue that love is not what we think it is. It is not a long-lasting, continually present emotion that sustains a marriage; it is not the yearning and passion that characterizes young love; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship.

Rather, it is what she calls a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.” She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store. Louis Armstrong put it best in “It’s a Wonderful World” when he sang, “I see friends shaking hands, sayin ‘how do you do?’ / They’re really sayin’, ‘I love you.'”

I read this article and found that it resonated with me, I mean what is photography but trying to create those micro-moments with the people you are covering? When I chose to visit the Love in the Hills put on by Sami’s Fine Jewelers I didn’t know what to expect aside from a marketing event for the company but I was hoping to see something of love on Valentines Day and hopefully see so many “micro-moments.”

It surprised me to find something that resembled a pilgrimage for married couples who wanted to share their love with strangers, which after reading this article, made so much more sense. They struck me as apostles for love, sharing their stories and personal secrets of maintaining love to those who might listen and were receptive to their sermon. Toni Minndeci dressed in red with a cream colored veil, going 63 years strong with her husband, told me “Honey, I pinch his ass every night before bed,” and her husband Sam just smiled while her family exclaimed. They are pictured below.

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I met another couple, Sarah and Shawn Eversole (picture center above), who had been together just a few years but watched them stare into each others eyes the entire time the officiator spoke during the ceremony and connect on a deep level that even now I’m not sure I have ever experienced. Others brought their wedding veils, wedding day photographs and shared it with those who asked. I met the Erdos, together for 46 years, and they said it was the adversity of immigrating to the states and raising their children, that helped them move through life together.

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It was at a basic level a confirmation of love, along with an opportunity win a free round of golf, but it also struck me as people who wanted to make positive connections with strangers, who in turn were attracted to the event because of the possible connection they could make others. It was probably one of the most surprisingly positive events I’ve had to shoot in the past few weeks and reminded me of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez quote, “There is always something left to love.”

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