Romance of the Photograph

Secrets of a good relationship: "Hopeless romantic" photographer seeks answers from couples in love

Photographer seeks secrets to good relationship from couples in love

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A couple in a busy plaza in Milan sparked the idea for Jay Marroquin's book. Photo by © Jay Marroquin
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A family in Vietnam. Photo by © Jay Marroquin
Romance of the Photograph book August 2013 Jay Marroquin
Houston-based fashion photographer, Jay Marroquin, goes on a journey to 30-plus countries to find 100-plus couples in love. Photo courtesy of Jay Marroquin
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A couple in Malaysia. Photo by © Jay Marroquin
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A couple in Vietnam.  Photo by © Jay Marroquin
Romance of the Photograph book August 2013 logo
Romance of the Photograph. Logo courtesy of Jay Marroquin
Romance of the Photograph book August 2013 Couple 001
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Romance of the Photograph book August 2013 Jay Marroquin
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Romance of the Photograph book August 2013 Couple 004
Romance of the Photograph book August 2013 logo

The streets of Milan are always busy —  especially during the Italian city’s fashion week as beautiful young men and women of all ages fill the streets and plazas. Amid the handsome throng, an older couple holding hands caught the eye of Houston fashion photographer Jay Marroquin.

“They reminded me of my parents who have been married for 48 years,” Marroquin tells CultureMap. “The couple looked magical and happy. I could tell that they were still in love."

 “I want to find a very diverse and eclectic group of people,” he says. "The book is about love, not color, creed, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation." 

He snapped their photo and the black-and-white image sparked an idea for a book that will send him around the world in search of couples in love.

The project, titled Romance Of The Photograph, is a first for Marroquin, who usually concentrates on ad campaigns. He just finished a shoot for St. Nicola, a New York-based luxury line of men's and women's footwear and handbags, and a session with Miss Bolivia 2013, Alexia Viruez, wearing designs by Hogan McLaughlin, who has dressed the likes of Lady Gaga. 

Marroquin plans to travel to more than 30 countries to find 100-plus couples for the book. He has already traveled to three countries for the project: Colombia, Vietnam and Malaysia. Also on his list: Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South America as well as across the United States. And he is soliciting recommendations of couples to photograph on his website.

“I want to find a very diverse and eclectic group of people,” he says. "The book is about love, not color, creed, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation."

The youngest son of Mexican-born immigrants, the 39-year-old self-taught photographer has been single for almost two years after a long relationship ended. But he remains a "hopeless romantic," believing love exists. He uses his parents as role models.

“They are totally in love and have a typical relationship, they bicker, but I have honestly seen them maintain a good relationship throughout the years,” he says.

In addition to photographs, Marroquin wants to add each couple's story, answering universal questions like,  "How have you been able to hold it together for so long?", "How did you know he/she was the one?" and "What did you two do when it got tough?"

He also hopes to answer the eternal question, "What is love?" He wants to give hope to people who are struggling with love, not understanding it, or just perplexed by it.

"I want this book to answer questions for me as well. That's what motivates me — because I want answers too," he says. "I want people to enjoy reading it. I want them to get that gushy-mushy feeling and say 'I want this, I can have this, there is someone out there for me'."