Those who love photography will know the feeling of an unexpected image. It generates a visceral response. A reflex. The stance is automatic. Point and capture the moment. It is rare for me to experience this without a camera. But I did yesterday.
At the end of the day I felt contented. I was home with soup simmering for hours in the kitchen. As it needed a few more hours, I sat down to watch TV. Flicking through channels of ‘reality TV’ with edited scripted spontaneity not cutting it for me, I was about to turn off and write reports when I stumbled upon it. A documentary about an American couple. So why did I sit, spellbound, for over an hour? Let me share their story as succinctly as I can.
Richard and Mildred Loving fell in love in the 1950s. They lived in rural Virginia. He, all American blond boy, who spent weekends drag racing, as other boys of his era did. She was slender, with long limbs, angular cheek bones reflecting her proud heritage, American Indian and African American. They married, they claim not knowing inter-racial marriages were a crime in their State. In an era where the reach of technology was short, being banned from their State effectively starved the young couple with three children, of support from family and friends. Two young lawyers took up their cause, fired by the civil rights movement of the early 1960s. They took it to the Supreme Court and won the case, decriminalising inter racial marriage, the waves of that tsunami, hit 16 other States. I watched the documentary captivated by the story of all the players. Each had their own agenda, but Richard Loving outlined it best when his lawyers asked him what to tell the Supreme Court. He said simply, “Tell them I love my wife”.
I know the story of change. The big players of the time. Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King Jr. The Kennedys. But, I didn’t know this simple, powerful story of love.
I learned this morning a movie was made about the couple in 2016. I didn’t know this. Of course, that’s not too surprising. I rarely watch anything that comes out of Hollywood, nor will I be rushing to watch this on small screen, even if it was Oscar worthy.
The best images for me were by the photographer who captured beautiful, tender moments of couple and family that were interspersed throughout the documentary. A man mowing a tatty lawn, doing puzzles with his children. A lean mother cooking over a stove, her small pots, too small to feed a family of five. A couple joined in tender kiss. A burly man leaning his head on his wife’s slender, strong shoulders. Her doe like gentleness belied the strength she would have needed to cope with this all. Yes, the photographer caught those unexpected moments, that gave voice to a story.
The love story of Richard and Mildred, has found a place in my heart, like a song. May it do in yours too.
Until next time
a dawn bird