As the sun began so shine down the narrow stone streets of the small town, the smell of fresh croissants and ground coffee wafted out of café doors. The streets were empty but the start of the morning energy was slowing making its way through each passageway. The scratch of café chairs on stone and muffled voices getting kids out the door echoed off colored shutters while the neighborhood cat relocated to the next sun spot. It may sound like the line from a storybook, but in Valbonne, it's real life. And in my opinion, it's what the dreams of Portraits in France are made of. Walking into Valbonne was like walking into the French town of my dreams. It's idyllic town square with a café on every side opened slowly in the morning and stayed bustling into the night. The pastel stucco colors were that perfect balance of vibrant yet soft and I could have spent hours photographing it's less-than-a-mile-radius town center.
They say they don't like to have their photo taken, but you give Mimmi & Pelle 20 minutes alone and they start giggling like it's their first date. It's not their first date. Far from it in fact. There's a comfort there that only 30+ years of marriage can bring. There's an admiration for knowing more about each other and having done this thing called life together. Sharing in each other's challenges and struggles, and integral to how the other has grown. They adore each other like teenagers, with 3 decades of strength behind it. That's nothing short of a beautiful anniversary in France.
But here's the catch: I didn't take these photos for Mimmi & Pelle. The entire time I was photographing these lovebirds, I wasn't actually thinking about what they
would want to see (sorry!). Instead, I was thinking about their daughters. Women who have only ever known these two as Mom & Dad. I'm sure they've witnessed the laughter, but I wonder if they've ever really seen the young 20-something's that are totally head over heels for each other? I hope they have and I hope they see those crazy kids of 30 years ago when they see these portraits.
That's the power of photography. We get access to fleeting moments that so often get swept up into the every day. Spouses can see what they look like after their beloved kisses them. Couples married for decades can be reminded of the butterflies from their first date. Daughters can see their mother's on their wedding day, when Mom was simply a young woman in love and not yet the woman who set her curfew. Photography gives us access to freezing our personalities and the current spirit of our relationships. We can be reminded of feelings we ourselves felt, but we can also grant insight to someone else who didn't yet exist to feel them in the first place.
Mimmi & Pelle, thank you so much for indulging me! I hope you love these as much as I do.