Love has many faces. The following is my attempt to exhibit some of what I have found in my travels and in my own neighborhood.
All photographs Copyright J. Mark Porter Photography 2014
Love helps us to survive. A mother's touch is one of the first proofs of love that most of us recognize and perhaps the most powerful. My twin nieces Elizabeth and Katharine were born early during the winter of 2009 and needed to be held in the NICU until they were stable and strong enough to face the big bad world. I was immediately taken with (right after the beauty of the babies) the soft pink and blue lighting that surrounded the girls and took a number of shots - all without flash, due to the fragile nature of the environment - and I am grateful this is how I was able to capture one of the first moments of this girl's life.
|Baby Niece - 2009|
|Blue Mass Procession - 2012|
Love is often exhibited in how we honor our fellow man. Every year at my church, St. Patrick's, in Washington, DC, a "Blue Mass" is held to honor the previous year's fallen American law enforcement officers. The church is always filled with representatives from many states and various arms of the law, including Border Patrol, Secret Service, Sheriffs, local police, etc. Love is showing appreciation for those who earn it and showing solidarity for a shared purpose.
|Family Surf - 2013|
Family love is a unique natural bond that has no equal. There is a lot of talk about what in fact a "family" is, but there is something special about the gift from God that is a team of blood ties. Oftentimes, family love is the most unbreakable. I love the beach. Pictured here is a family of surfers at Huntington Beach checking out the surf before heading out. Obviously, the dad is sharing his passion with his kids and it's something they all will be able to enjoy and have in common for a lifetime.
|Dominicana and Child - 2009|
Two major components of love are protection and dedication. "To love" could also mean "to care for." When we watch over another life and take responsibility for their welfare or success, we love. On a trip south, I was honored to learn about two countries on one island - Haiti and Dominican Republic. Without going into too much detail, there is much poverty on this island. While not far from the United States, it seems a world away in some ways. While I meandered through the city of Santo Domingo on a very hot summer day, I came upon this woman and child, both sleeping on the side of the road. In the US, we might expect see this scene with shoes on feet and a hat seeking spare change. Here in the Dominican Republic, I think they truly had nothing... except each other. Scenes like this always make me nervous as a photographer, because I hate to intrude, however I think it is in instances such as this that we see the the raw humanity of being human. With nothing else, there is still love.
|First-Time Mom - 2006|
I find it hard to think that the love between a mother and her child can be overstated. Here is a candid moment of a woman who is taking in the realization that her life is forever changed by this new life in her arms. As a first-time parent there must be a million things that pass through the mind, from thinking of simply how to keep her alive through the next few moments to what she might look like in her wedding dress. Pictured is my favorite sister-in-law Jennifer and my niece Alexandra in the summer of 2006. I remember holding my niece in that very same chair and thinking about things in this world that she would eventually have to face - such as a crazy dictator in North Korea launching missiles. While love comes with its own kind of heavenly peace, it certainly gives you a compass for what is truly important in this world.
|Family Fourth - 2011|
Far from the only species of animal to do this, but when we love, we want to impress. When we love, we give reasons for why we ought to be together. Basically, love is why we try. This photograph was taken from a patio of one of the US House office buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Fourth of July.
|Grandma's Birthday - 2014|
Love is in the moment. While we all hope that love lasts a lifetime, eventually we learn that all things change, and all things end. Love is not in a book or somewhere far away, but it is in the moments that can present themselves to us every day. Far from a grandparent's consciousness are the minute details of worry, and maybe even the frosting on the cake, but the simple joys of a life well lived during precious moments. Pictured is my godmother on her birthday with two of her grandchildren on her lap. Even with one child making a sour face and the other not even paying attention, in her eyes I see that everything is perfect.
|Inaugural Pride - 2009|
Speaking of moments, there are some that bind even strangers together. In love, you simply have to let down your guard and accept certain things. Some special moments allow us to come together in a way that we otherwise never would. Love is a powerful phenomenon, and when properly harnessed can do great things. While I had absolutely no desire to be a part of this crowd that day, because it was very cold and I did not feel like celebrating a symbolic and superficial election, the crowds that flooded the streets of Washington from before daylight to be a part of the first Inauguration of President Obama were a spectacle of joy, pride, and love of country. Love is about more than oneself.
|Old Roses - 2013|
|Maverick and Goose -2010|
It is hard to imagine much in this world that is perfect, but I do believe something that is is God's love for us. Why else would He allow us such beauty? I am by no means perfect, but I am often in awe of what I see before me. The philosophy that guides my art is not that I can create, but I only do my best to capture what has already been created. If you believe in a loving God, then you know that we only love because He has loved us. This image was captured in Miami on a simply gorgeous early morning. The sunrise was magical, and the providence that allowed me to be a witness was perfect.
"Dear friends, if God loved us that much, we also should love each other. No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is made perfect in us." - 1 John 4:11-12
|Rest in Peace, Mr B - 2013|
Love hurts. While love can never precisely be measured in units, it is felt in grief when we reach an end. While endings result in sadness, true love lasts beyond our earthly bodies... or why else would we have funerals and cemeteries? Yes, love hurts, but it also endures from man to man and memory to memory. This photo was the only one I took during the funeral and burial of the father of a friend I have known since first grade.
|St Pancras Lovers - 2013|
Last, but not least, love captures our hearts and gives us hope. You may be thinking that I have neglected romantic love, and you may be right. First of all, I didn't want to embarrass anyone by putting their romantic relationship on display for millions to see. Secondly, what I know about romantic love is that it must be sought and it must be cherished. It is its own piece of art that becomes a constant in a sea of variables. It is what we find when we dare to journey, and it takes on a life of its own. Love inspires us to dream of what could be and gives us the strength to get there. This photograph shows Paul Day's "The Meeting Place" statue at one end of London's St. Pancras International Rail Station which welcomes many a traveler whilst exuding the pride of many a Londoner.
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