If you want to find imagery that unifies us all, look no further than Doug Menuez. In his collection titled “Love Stories,” Doug captures love, one expression at a time. We admire people who use their art and talent to highlight what we all have in common. We asked him to give us a peek behind the scenes; to “share the love.” Here is our discussion.
This collection is years in the making. They are beautiful examples of the language we all speak. We don’t pretend to think you have a checklist, but have you sought out specific interpretations, situations, and locations, or were these stills captured from other projects?
I’ve always been interested in the power of love and how it affects our lives. My fascination started with street photography as a kid in New York, where, if you walk around enough, you are definitely going to come across couples falling in love, falling out of love, straight-up fighting, kissing and making up, you name it. Then I did some fashion photography in the ’90s and created photo essays based on imaginary screenplays. We shot them like movies with roles our talent played and, in some cases, used people who were actually in love, so the moments of interaction were all very candid and natural.
I started applying that approach to certain ad campaigns – Hallmark, Disney, Coke, etc. – as well, and would cast husband and wife for easy intimacy. In my documentary work, I’ve also come across real-life love stories. This collection is all of the above, from street photography and photojournalism, to documentary and all my commercial work over the years.
I realized that no matter how fashionable, cool, or rich someone is, they just want to find love and be loved. As Psychologist Maslov theorized, people might not realize it, but love is part of the human story after you solve for food and shelter. I’m kind of tuned to that.
These are incredible shots where you are witnessing intimate moments between two people. How are you able to quickly capture these milliseconds without interrupting the exchange?
Well, that was just learning to be quick for street photography and as a photojournalist covering news and sports. You have to learn human behavior, study body language and, anticipate what’s about to happen. Boxers learn to watch shoulder muscles contract to see the punch before it’s thrown. In photography, you are already raising the camera, adjusting for the light intuitively, and starting to focus just as the action is starting to happen. Click, yes! It’s a little miracle, as I always way. The moments are just gifts you can’t fake or recreate. And capturing them is a super high that’s as addictive as it gets.
You have an exceptional talent for noticing the moments that others might miss. How do you do that? Where did this power originate?
Ha, thanks! Practicing is probably the answer. Long ago, I had my tarot read by a Mae de Santa in Brazil. She said that I was a messenger, that the divinities were communicating through me. To keep my eyes open, pay attention, shut up and shoot. Kind of harsh, but I took it to heart. Back then, I was a hardcore photojournalist believing in nothing that I could not see. But I think of that woman often because, over the years, things have happened to me with my camera that I can only explain in mystical terms, so I won’t even try. I just keep my eyes open.
Follow Doug on Instagram for more imagery and motion emphasizing what we all have in common.