What does it mean to be in love?
For nearly eight years, in images, writing and life, plain and simple, my partner Juan and I have tried to tease out the answer through a collaborative photo project. We think it's time to share.
Love is a cliché. It’s an idea so easy to imagine but impossible to grasp. Like an overripe fruit, it collapses with a bit of pressure into cloying sweetness and the faint sense of something lost. But, it is also our most essential endeavor.
At its most basic, falling in love means cleaving away something of yourself and becoming something else. It's painful and hard, but also carries the potential for profound transformation.
Our love story isn't a fairy tale — it's tough stuff, two people becoming more and less than that. We wanted to make a record of what this process meant, and felt like.
Our book takes you through the ups and downs, the challenges and triumphs, the every day little wondrous moments and the darkness that sometimes follows.
Oh yeah, and we're gay
Queer love is profound. It's joy in the face of adversity, warmth and vitality where people believe there shouldn't be. Though there are more than a fair share of photo books about straight relationships, there's a dearth of ones about queer people, living and loving.
Our project takes a look at our love in all its nuances, brings you in close and doesn't shy away from the nitty gritty.
The work in these pages takes you on a journey. We first met on OKCupid, and the book takes you from some some of our first dates, through a year and a half of long distance, in and out of five apartments and three cities, spanning the first five or so years of our relationship and ending just before we got engaged. But it's not a straightforward narrative. Think of it as a love poem.
Through it all, we're there, trying to be our best for ourselves and one another (not always succeeding, but that too is part of love). At its core, it explores that period of a relationship where we were more stranger to one another than familiar.
It's got snippets of writing from Juan and I, glimpses of important milestones, quiet scenes and everything in between.
We're on this journey together.
The book is a collaboration between myself and my partner Juan. It's the first substantial publication of this work, and it's the first chapter in a lifelong project we're calling Here is What I Know About Love. This is the first book, the beginning of that lifelong series, so stay tuned for future chapters/books in the years to come. When We Were Strangers is being designed by Alejandro Torres Viera, produced by Bonnie Briant and published by Red Hook Editions, due out in the spring of 2019.
For more than a year now, Juan and I have been working with our amazing team to bring this project, our life, into book form.
We lived with the pictures all over the house, and went through round after round of dummy-making, incorporating feedback from our friends at Red Hook Editions, and a few other trusted folks.
The book will be small and intimate, about the size of a journal (or diary if that's your thing). It's full of close and personal moments from our lives together, and includes a booklet of text by me, tucked away in a back cover pocket, reflecting on what we've built together.
You have the option of one of the following as a 5 x 7" C-print (the printed image will be 4 x 6"), in an open edition.
Pledge $250 or more, Limited Edition Print and Artists' Book
You have the option of one of the above as an 8 x 10" archival pigment print (the printed image will be 5 x 7.5")on 310 gsm Canson Etching Rag, one in a limited edition of 50 each, plus a copy of the limited edition artists' book (more info below).
The artists' edition of our book is a signed and numbered limited edition (1/100) of the book, with a unique cover.
Pledge $500 or more, you get the Artists' Book and Print AND a Special Love Pack
You'll receive a little something extra from us. The Special Love Pack is a collection of some of our favorite things, tokens from the 8 years we've spent building a life together. A playlist of songs that mean something to us, a handwritten note from somewhere special to us, some special tips we've picked up about being true to one another and a few other surprises. A little love from us to you.
About The Authors
Jake Naughton is a visual artist and journalist making work about queerness around the world, based in Mexico City.
He was named one of Photo District News' 30's New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2017, and his work has been recognized and supported by the Magenta Foundation, as a two-time Flash Forward winner, and he is also a three-time American Photography winner, a two-time finalist for the Robert Giard Fellowship, and a finalist for the Art Director's Club Young Guns award. He is the recipient of multiple Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grants, an Artist's Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the inaugural Emerging Photographer Project Grant from the Magenta Foundation.
His work has been exhibited in the US and internationally. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, additional clients include Instagram, the Smithsonian Institution, VICE Magazine, Wired Magazine and Pentagram.
Juan Sosa recently completed coursework for a Master's degree in Conflict, Security and Development from King's College London. Prior to this, while working at the Legal Aid Society, he advocated for unaccompanied children escaping violence in Central America, and defended them in U.S. immigration court. Originally from El Salvador, he came to the United States as a child, fleeing the civil war in his home country.
Though not a professional photographer himself, he has been involved in this project at every level, from making photographs included in the book, to sequencing its pages, to ensuring that all aspects of our relationship were documented and represented in the project and the book.
Filming: Luc Forsyth
Music: @dcuttermusic / http://www.davidcuttermusic.com | Kludge / https://soundcloud.com/kludge-tunes
Published by Red Hook Editions
Risks and challenges
Publishing a photo book comes with some inherent risks, but we are working with an incredible and experienced team of producer, designer, publisher and printer, so we're confident we will be able to weather any unexpected hurdles. Delays are sometimes part of the process, so bear with us if we run a little late. That said, once we weather the challenges of this campaign, we have everything lined up to go smoothly, and we're sure you'll love the book when it arrives.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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