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Portraits of Love: A Heartwarming Photo Project

Her grandfather's letters inspired Lauren Fleishman's book, 'The Lovers'

As Lauren Fleishman traveled the world photographing and interviewing hundreds of long-married couples for her new book, The Lovers, certain themes emerged about lasting relationships.

“It takes love and a lot of mutual respect for each other,” Fleishman, 35, says. “Also, their love deepened as the years went along. Many of them said they became one instead of two. They were OK with the idea of mutual dependency and identity.”

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Fleishman’s project started when she came across love letters her grandfather had written to her grandmother during World War II, before they were married.

“I’d never thought of my grandparents in those (romantic) terms,” she says. “That made me think, if we look at older couples in terms of their love, we can use it to connect the different generations. It’s about bridging gaps that exist.”

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Fleishman first met couples at dancing clubs where she lived in New York and would ask to photograph them. No one said “no.” Later, when she moved to England, she found more couples there; the project continues, expanding worldwide.

Early on, Fleishman remembers photographing one couple and noticing, when they kissed, “something about way their faces fit together — there was a comfort with each other that made a lot of sense.” It was, she says, a beautiful moment. The love she’s seen inspires Fleishman as she prepares to get married soon.

But there are not a lot of projects like hers out there. “You don’t see older people much at all, especially not pictured in terms of their love or in a romantic pose. But it is the most core thing to them,” Fleishman says.

“A lot of couples said, ‘I spent more time with this person than anybody else on Earth.’ And there’s something incredibly beautiful and important and worth recording, saving and cherishing about that,” notes Fleishman.

Below are some of the photographs and interviews from the book, which is available through Amazon and direct from the publisher.

Fleishman continues to seek subjects for her work, so if you know of a long-married (or long-together) couple willing to be photographed and interviewed about their relationship, email her at [email protected]

Mary: “Jake said to me, “Would it ever be possible for me to marry you?” And I said, “Possible but not probable! ”And that’s how it was. It wasn’t likely that I would ever marry him, and he knew that. So when he went home to Trinidad, my mother and father breathed a sigh of relief. But he used to write, and he said, “I’m thinking I might come back to England.”

Dorothy: “I never think of it in terms of years. I think of it in terms of good years. In love, hot romance doesn’t last forever. So I would say that yes, I think love changes. I would say we’re still in love. We still love each other. It’s focusing, doing little things. He’s an amazing man.

Moe: “Now I’m going on 88, my wife is 85, and I’m only wishing for another five or six years of life. This is all we want. We don’t want to live much longer. We’d like to see our grandchildren get married and be happy like we were. As a matter of fact, I always say to my wife, “I wish I could reach 94.” That’s the aim of my existence. And I’d hate to leave my little wife here. And she’d hate to leave me.”

Angie: “You really don’t think about getting older. First of all, you’re aging together, and when you see a person constantly,you don’t notice big changes. Like you don’t notice, oh you’re getting a little wrinkle here and tomorrow you say it’s a little deeper. No, those are things that just happen.You don’t pay attention to those things. I mean, I’m not thinking every day,“Oh my husband’s 83 years old, he’s gonna be 84, oh my goodness, I’m married to an old man!”And I hope he feels that way too.

Yaakov: “What is the secret to love? A secret is a secret, and I don’t reveal my secrets.

Yevgeniy: “We met at a dancing party. It was in January 1938. My friend invited me to the party, he said there would be a lot of beautiful young girls. Another cadet with high boots had approached her, but she didn’t like high boots and so she said no to him. I was the second one to approach her. I had a different uniform, but I’m still not sure if it was my uniform or my face that attracted her to me.

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