In the age of social media, a couple’s journey from engagement to the wedding is well-documented.
A young couple usually has no shortage of images to mark these occasions – keepsakes to look back on fondly when they’re old and gray.
The bride and groom, looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, the happy couple kissing, the man lifting the woman up to carry her over the threshold, the silhouette of two lovers against a moonlit sky. In all these images, the bride and groom – or the bride and groom to be – are at the start of a journey that we all hope will last the rest of their lives. But even though many marriages are full of romance from beginning to end, no one seems to take photos like these as the couple ages.
Sujata Setia – a London-based photographer – is trying to change that.
In a series of startlingly beautiful images, Setia captures older couples in “engagement-style” poses, and the results are pure magic.
Setia is actually a maternity and family photographer. Her light-infused photographs of expectant mothers, babies, and grandparents with their grandchildren capture the beautiful bonds of family. But according to HuffPost, when Setia travels for photo shoots, she “asks elderly, long-married couples to volunteer as models for her and her students.”
According to her website, Setia’s photoshoots allow clients “to be heard, to be loved, and to be understood in a way that only a best friend would understand you.” Her photos of older couples show a side of marriage that – for all our talk of “’til death do us part” – we hardly ever acknowledge: many people are still deeply in love with their spouses after years and years of marriage.
Many people are still deeply in love with their spouses after years and years of marriage.
They say that love fades and, while that may be true for some people, it isn’t always an accurate description of what happens in a marriage.
Love deepens. It permeates all aspects of a couple’s lives until it is the air they breathe, the glue that holds them together. Love grows quieter. It gets surer. It doesn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops or proclaimed in grand gestures and public displays. It is known to both people – known and appreciated.
It’s not necessarily that love fades. For many couples, it just becomes private. The kinds of things that Setia has her couples doing – kissing, caressing, sitting in each other’s laps – happen behind closed doors. No one else needs to know. They’ve got nothing to prove.
“I tell them to hold hands, kiss,” Setia explains. “The couples always laugh first,” but then their discomfort melts away, and Setia gets to see something that no one has seen for years. It isn’t that their love has faded, and they’re only remembering it now. It’s that they’ve found other ways to show it – or only shown it in private. Setia says it gives her “hope that everlasting love actually exists.”
Setia’s photographs are an important reminder in the age of hookup culture, serial dating, and divorce. If you play your cards right – if you seek out love instead of sex, and get married instead of dating endlessly – you will be so much happier in the long run. These couples in Setia’s photographs aren’t “cute” or “sweet,” they’re aspirational. We should all be striving for a love that lasts a lifetime, and a spark that never dies.