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What does it mean to be in love? Eight years in, we're making a photo book that takes you on this journey with us.
What does it mean to be in love? Eight years in, we're making a photo book that takes you on this journey with us.
278 backers pledged $25,047 to help bring this project to life.

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When We Were Strangers — A Photo Book Love Story

$25,047

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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 Book

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.

Example Layouts

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.

Rewards

Pledge $100

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).

Artists' Book

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. 

Video Credits

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.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 18 or more About US$ 18

    Dancing on My Own (Thanks)

    You're special and you know it (keep dancing), and we know it too. So here's our thanks!

    Includes:
    • Postcard from us to you, with love
    • Good vibes
    • Invitation to the book launch in NYC
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    27 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 43 or more About US$ 43

    We Found Love (Book)

    It's the way I'm feeling I just can't deny — From our heart to your hands

    Includes:
    • 1 Book
    • Postcard from us to you, with love
    • Good vibes
    • Invitation to the book launch in NYC
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    119 backers
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    Pledge US$ 43 or more About US$ 43

    NYC/MX — We Found Love (Book)

    ***ONLY FOR NYC/MEXICO CITY PICK UP***
    It's the way I'm feeling I just can't deny — From our heart to your hands.
    This is for everyone living in New York City or Mexico City and who will pick up the book at the launch party (NYC) or from us (Mexico City). ONLY choose this option if you live in one of these two cities.

    Includes:
    • 1 Book
    • Postcard from us to you, with love
    • Good vibes
    • Invitation to the book launch in NYC
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    53 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Amor Prohibido (Book + Print)

    Al fin estamos juntos, los dos — you surmounted the odds and so did we, so enjoy a print AND a book!

    Includes:
    • 1 Book
    • Open edition 5 x 7" print (3 options noted in details)
    • Postcard from us to you, with love
    • Good vibes
    • Invitation to the book launch in NYC
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    28 backers
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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Propuesta Indecente (Artist Book+Print)

    Una aventura es más divertida si huele a peligro, so why not go for something unique?

    Includes:
    • Limited Edition Artists' Book (1/100 — Signed and Numbered)
    • Limited Edition 8 x 10" Print (2 options noted in details)
    • Postcard from us to you, with love
    • Good vibes
    • Invitation to the book launch in NYC
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 11 backers
    $
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    How Will I Know (2 Books, Print + MORE)

    Whitney realness. We'll know, trust us.

    Includes:
    • Limited Edition Artists' Book (1/100 — Signed and Numbered)
    • 1 Book
    • Limited Edition 8 x 10" Print (2 options noted in details)
    • SPECIAL LOVE PACK
    • Postcard from us to you, with love
    • Good vibes
    • Invitation to the book launch in NYC
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    $
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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    Love on Top (4 Books, Print + MORE)

    From gold suits to tuxedos, it's only the best for you. You're on top in our hearts.

    Includes:
    • Limited Edition Artists' Book (1/100 — Signed and Numbered)
    • 3 Books
    • Limited Edition 8 x 10" Print (2 options noted in details)
    • Private Exhibition Tour in NYC (Feb 2019, Travel not included)
    • SPECIAL LOVE PACK
    • Postcard from us to you, with love
    • Good vibes
    • Invitation to the book launch in NYC
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    $
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Funding period

- (30 days)