The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Intimacy and Photography

Most years I completely forget about Valentine's Day.

This has nothing to do with not being romantic or not being deeply in love with my wife. Instead it has everything to do with the fact February 14th has been my daughter's birthday since before the turn of the millennium.

However, as a photographer, the lack of Valentine's Day on my radar means I'm quite probably missing out on a major marketing opportunity for couples photography.

Of course these days it's never been easier for couples to have photos of themselves via their phones, so if I want to offer up something different, I have to go where the iphone can't – to create the kind of photo that is not only really desirable, but practically impossible to do yourself.

Now I do actually do this fairly often, but it's not something I've tended to shout about.

Partly this is because all photo shoots I do for people are bespoke – tailor made to their hopes and desires. Every first meeting is about exploring ideas and possibilities and then we take it from there - so the approach to a couple's shoot is no different to any other kind.

Another reason is that often these photos are private. They are personal - for the couple only, and not to be spread across social media.

It's always been something of a promotional dilemma for me - some of the most beautiful, sensual, artistic photos I've created have never been seen by more than the clients and their closest confidants.

This year, however, I wondered if Carolyn and Ken would allow me to use a photo I took of them to show an example of what a couple's photo can look like.

I let them know that if they had any reservations at all then there is no way I would use their image, but they were insistent that they were perfectly happy about it.

What I love about this photo is the beautiful intimacy of it, that works on several levels.

The light and shadow create a world where nothing else can be seen – it is just the 2 of them.

They are clearly deeply in love.

It is not about youth and beauty, instead it is about the beauty and depth that only comes with age and experience.

And, of course, it is skin to skin, flesh on flesh.

If they had been wearing blouse and shirt, or knitted sweaters, or even t-shirts, then it would still have been a lovely photo.

But without the clothes, it becomes so much more intimate, so much deeper, so much more powerful.

I never fail to feel an immense sense of privilege when people have such a level of trust in me that we can cross the normal social barriers enough to create something truly special.

In these days of phone photography and selfies, the snapshot has never been easier – and I think it's great for what it is.

I love using my phone for the quick shot to share on social media that I'm hainvg a hot chocolate with my daughter, or am witnessing a glorious sunset while out for a walk.

But for the most part it's disposable photography – easily consumed, then quickly forgotten.

Photography such as this of Carolyn and Ken, on the other hand, reaches us on such a deep emotional level that it lasts forever.

If this is something you think you'd like to explore further, then get in touch and we can meet up for a coffee (or hot chocolate) to explore ideas and possibilities.


Pat said...

A day I remember with great happiness was when you took photographs of Alastair and me - not long before I lost him. It was such a happy, loving and intimate experience and we were both totally relaxed - rare for Al in front of a camera. They are a great comfort to me now. I shall always be grateful

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - it was a real privilege to spend time with you both, and I was so glad I was able to get photos you were pleased with. ((Hugs))

maurcheen said...

Having a portrait of meself and Annette taken by Kim is high up on my bucket list.

Kim Ayres said...

Maurcheen - we really are going to have to get past that channel of water separating us! :)

maurcheen said...


neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

It is such a rare treat to see older couples hold hands and walk these days. I wish you could capture them all, Kim. It would be a celebration of life, surviving, and love.

What an amazing project it would be.

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - society as always been obsessed with youth, and young love. And yet older generations feel everything just as strongly, if not more, with added layers of experience and nuance.
I do more photography of older people than I do younger - partly that's to do with the fact younger generations are more likely to think their selfies are all that really matters, or it doesn't occur to them that there are other, more interesting ways of photography.
But that just means I have access to a relatively untapped market :)

daisyfae said...

this is beautiful. like maurcheen, this would be a bucket list item for me. studley and i just booked a trip to the UK for May - we are starting/ending in Edinburgh, traveling by train and bus to Bowness-on-Solway, then walking Hadrian's Path to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. From there? About 10 days of whatever we feel like... will see if i figure out how to get in touch, and possibly find time to at least share a pint/hot chocolate while we're in the area, or perhaps try a couples portrait!

Kim Ayres said...

Daisyfae - it would be absolutely wonderful to meet up with you while you're this side of the Atlantic, and in fact less than 90 minutes drive away!
Let's make it happen :)

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