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belated valentine


The husband, too often, is trumped by sons and daughters. Conversation is reduced to tokens of business such as

Hello. We got another power bill and did you remember to pick up more milk and I forgot to take out the recycling again and that cheese isn’t supposed to be blue and watch out, that’s a poopy sock. Goodnight.

Bleary-eyed we stagger through parenthood, aware of each other only peripherally. In front of the camera he exists as child-carrier, slide-catcher and armpit-tickler, captured in bits and pieces alongside headlining cereal-splattered cheeks and tricycle prowess.

I’m still in a state of shock that, with a baby and a toddler in the house, a marriage with this man takes effort—effort in the way of just remembering to just be with each other and laugh, and talk, and look at each other straight in the eyes, the way we used to.

This photo is who Justin was, before. May I be so bold? RAWR.

And after? There is none yet. Not of this classic magnitude. But there will be. Post-Valentine, I’m determined: a portrait of him as himself, rather than as child-prop.

Want to join me?

Peel your camera away from the kids. Introduce us to yours, and tell us about him (or her)—the before, or the after—just your partner, no one else. Share a picture of what made (and makes) you love: a stance, a grin. Or the way he wraps his hand around the paddle of a canoe, an extension of his arm, as natural as if he were born to this place.

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    Response: c4tlid

Reader Comments (67)

Alas, as a single lady, i can't participate in todays photo task...but i must say that reading blogs and seeing flickr pictures of folks with their loves keeps me inspired and having faith and hope that my future will be full of love.
February 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commentervivienne
What a great challenge! Sometimes you get so used to the day to day activities of living with someone, that trying to look at them like you did "before" is a real eye-opener. This is my all-time favorite picture of my husband, and makes my heart happy every time I see it.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha D.
My Honey hates having his photo taken. I managed to snap this one of him a few months ago while on a date night/wine tour.

RAWR is the perfect word.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngella
This is my love before, so serious, so arty, so very very young
And here he is indulging my desire for some portraits of him which have been scarce since becoming parents.
Had I not done this set of portraits which I only convinced him to do by telling him I really needed to test out my camera before taking some engagement photos of my sister...I would only have baby carrier photos as well...funny how the object of my obsession and affection turned into the prop. I'm so glad the love is still so strong and the work is so very worth it.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersummer
there are a million reasons to love this photo. the vibrancy of it all.
and a million and one reasons to love you and him together.
thank you for sharing.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMereMortal
So true...incredibly small amount of photos of just him in my collection. Resolved to remedy that...
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTo Think is to Create
I took this one of my husband a couple of months ago. I was testing out the new lens he got me for Christmas. :) Your post was a great reminder to get more pictures of him as my husband, not just as a prop for the kids.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermel from freak parade
Vivienne, I hope so too. I remember how that felt, the waiting. Can you interpret how this made you feel in a photograph?

Everyone, I'm totally bowled over by your shots so far, and your partners. You captured so much personality, I feel like I've met them all.

February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKate

i like this.

i need to think about this for a bit.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergkgirl
because he always looks at me with love in his eyes.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermaya
gosh, what a great post kate. well said, all of it. it IS the sideways glance. i'm not sure if i can capture something through my lens or not, but these photos everyone has shared are wonderful, truly. and you can see it all in their eyes shining back at the women holding the cameras. it brings tears to my eyes.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercamerashymomma
aha, here it is.. my recent attempt at a husband portrait. he abhors the camera but we often find love and ourselves at the beach...i'm not sure who this is, it's someone i used to know, someone who has been in my life for 13 years.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercamerashymomma
Wow. This makes me realize that I take very, very few pictures of my husband without at least one kid attached to him somehow. I'll have to work on that.

The picture I pulled for this challenge was taken about 8 years ago (give or take a year). It's always been my favorite. I only have a small print of it, so I took a picture of the picture:
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Eaves
I love your post Kate. It made me realize also that Jason is mostly a "prop" in our lives and photographs. I did take these a while back, when I was fiddling with camera flare on the camera. Even then, he was a prop! Yikes. We all need to take more minutes out to pay attention the people we need and love the most, don't we.
here is the link. The last one is just a joke when i told him to 'be menacing"...he looks mean, but to me it's a photo about how funny he is. And also willing to do just about anything to please me. Let's be on a mission to take more photos of our boys!!
thanks Kate.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermaile
Here's the person who makes my life...MORE.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennyB
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
Not the greatest picture of him, but a very proud moment for him. He built that bike all by himself ( minus the paint job someone else did that) This was it's first trip out of the garage to see if it would start. When it did the look on his face was of pure joy. I only wish I had a full view shot of his face, but my tears of joy prevented me from taking anymore.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTerri
306 pictures tagged with "Brian" in my Flickr, and almost none that show him sans child, not clowning around. This one is from one of our first dates, on June 12, 1993. He's so young! (And I'm so polka-dotty!).
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersnicketyone
he comes into focus when he does this...
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLil
Neither one of us is photogenic, trust me on this. He was completely at ease on this day though. He's fun and handsome and loves me. My homage:
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLucy
This was beautifully written!! Bravo! It is just as lovely as the photo!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJill
Thanks for the idea for an interpretation of this task kate. I will definitely do fact i think it will be pretty empowering and important to do. I do savour this stage (solo w/ no kids) and how much freedom i have, but look forward to where ya'll are in your lives, with your family.

I'm amazed at all the beauty you ladies have found in your loves. Beautiful pictures.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentervivienne
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDevan
my husband as a child prop? i am guilty as charged.

kate, this photo is amazing and your challenge is indeed challenging. i love it! great post.

and, RAWR indeed!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertracey
This is my Garth. He is goofy and delicious and he makes me laugh.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlaura plouzek
Hey Maile, can you post those links? You had me all excited to see your shots and then DOH!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKate
This is an excellent idea. I was just thinking the same exact thing. I have a lot of pictures of him "before", but since our son he's usually more of a prop than anything else. I'll get to work and see what I can do.
And your hubby is adorable!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGinna
Wow, this post made me realize how few photos I have of just my husband! I'll definitely be remedying this immediately. Here's one of my favorites though. This was taken Christmas morning. He's not afraid to be silly and I love that about him.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMama DB
I love, love, LOVE this challenge. I hadn't realized how much our sweet daughters had overshadowed my perception of my husband as a man, as himself. Thus, this: -- a shot of my husband as he is, the colorful center of my world, with a smile that makes me feel like the only woman alive. I'll make sure to take more of these in the future!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBethany
I've found my hubbie, too, has been left out of the photographic mix. For one, he hates having his picture taken. But also, those kids steal the limelight. I recently started adding myself back in with self-portraits. And, suddenly, he is more willing to let me photograph him.

This first photo I love even though he is hard to see because it depicts his sense of humor - his fun loving self.

And the second, well, he is a brewer. This is his life away from our family. Can't beat a good brew.

Hello hubbies! RAWR indeed!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShalet
He is part superhero, part athlete. He is a great husband & life partner. And despite his size... He is truly a "gentle giant." Iin his arms I feel safe. I love him & all of his tattoos.... Here he is before playing a football game.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjessica new
This man stood me up on our first date. He's lucky there was a second! He has redeemed himself since then.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelody A.
Great timing! I took this picture of John before our much needed date on Saturday night. Even though we don't have kids, the stress of daily life was getting in the way of "us". It was great to have the time to reconnect.

By the way, RAWR is right! Justin is a looker.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaige
Wow. What a great idea! Here's mine:
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris
We don't have kids yet. But I still don't make my husband the subject of my photos very often. Mostly it's because when he's aware of the camera, he mugs. Here is a shot I took of him this weekend when he was watching polar bears at the zoo. He didn't know I was taking his picture:
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermary catherine
{blush} so, i'm a dork... what's RAWR?

February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercamerashymomma
It is true that it is infinitely difficult to remember life before dogs, mortgages, pregnancies, babies and all the bills! the work! the landscaping that needs to be done! the new carpet that we desperately need! the insurance, laundry, and the (blush) minivan I *swore* up and down and over again that I would never ever purchase...

but it is lovely to sit here and remember that every last silly, trying, and wonderful little thing that we have now all started with a look. And a kiss. And lots and lots of love letters placed covertly into a campus mailbox or tucked away under his rusty pick-up truck windshield wipers.

My beau, looking typically intense last summer. I love this look:
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercherryfizzy
Great idea Kate -- we need to appreciate our men more, don't we?

This is one of my favourite shots of Andre -- taking before Evan -- have to work on getting a post-Evan shot where he looks this relaxed!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Forget
RAWR is the sound of a cougar about to pounce. Or a tiger. Or a man-eating jaguar. Your choice.

Ahem. Kidding. Kind of.
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Great idea for a post. It's sad how few pictures I have of him without at least one of the kids. Thanks for reminding me to pay more attention to that in the future.

Here is my love in a relaxed, candid photo:
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
My daughter said I should've posted this one instead, so here goes (I had a tough time choosing!):
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
No children yet, but it's usually my husband behind the camera. I snapped this one a couple of years ago - it shows my husband and the other love of his life!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElspeth
What a great idea... I need to take more pictures of my man, alone. Although most of my just-him pictures capture an expression on his face that says "stop aiming the camera at me!" I am sure I can get a few that capture his humour and his sweetness.

In the meantime - here's one he didn't know I was taking...
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstacelet
Brilliant idea. I never stopped to realize that Pat was never solo in a picture once the wee one came around. I will work to get one up!
February 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

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