CNN Photos

Rethinking wedding portraits

It’s often touted as “the best day or your life.” It can take months or even years to plan, and it can cost thousands of dollars. It’s a day to remember — for better or for worse.

Many couples opt to record their wedding day via a series of portraits, to be able to share immediately among friends and reflect on in the future as faces become etched with wrinkles.

Photographer John Paul Evans has a different perspective on the keepsake.

In his series “Matrimonial Ties,” Evans aims to challenge the paradigm of the wedding portrait.

“The works originated as a personal reflection on the current state of social change in Britain and Europe around notions or definitions of marriage,” Evans wrote in Lens Culture.

Throughout the series, Evans poses with his partner, Peter, in different areas of the domestic space.

Evans told CNN he was very conscious of their wardrobe and posture decisions — the former as it reinforces the typical uniform of the groom, and the latter as a sign of stiffness.

In several of the photos, the couple is seen peering into the house through a window to depict them as “outsiders” against the assumption of what a “normal” family might look like.

“We appear in quite an uncanny and uncomfortable way,” said Evans, who is a senior lecturer in photography at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David. “It’s not necessarily in a disturbing way, just that we’re not quite at home.”

Before the series, Evans said, he and his partner always avoided taking family photographs because he always questioned “the truthfulness of them.”

In another one of the portraits, the two men appear amid “The Arnolfini Portrait” by Flemish painter Jan van Eyck. The painting is considered one of the most famous and poignant images of the unification of man and woman, and the dichotomy of Evans and Peter with it is testing that classic notion, according to the photographer.

Beyond gender, Evans said, his series also explores the idea of generational divides and the “pervasive attitude that people will form relationships with more or less the same age group.”

Because of he and his partner’s age difference, Evans said it’s common for people to assume a father-son relationship versus a romantic one.

It’s about exploring the politics of “otherness,” as he calls it.

- Sarah LeTrent, CNN