These Intimate Photographs Are So Powerful

For centuries, common wisdom held that same-sex couples couldn't form the same kind of relationships as heterosexuals. Even in the wake of marriage equality's legalization in countries around the world, there are a select few who still claim that LGBT couples simply can't love each other the way heterosexuals do. For compelling evidence against their argument, may I direct your attention to Exhibit A, the photo series Lovers by Wanda Martin, which takes a long, close look at the intimacy between young couples of all orientations.

Martin first began the series around two years ago after a "personal experience" led her to explore the subject of gender studies; since then, though, it has grown, eventually becoming her final master project in the MA Fashion Photography course at the London College of Fashion. "Initially, my motivation was to investigate myself," she tells Bustle over email. However, she eventually expanded her focus outward: "My aim is to explore the nature of sexual fluidity and show the similarity between different kind of (heterosexual and homosexual) relationships," she writes on her website.

Despite its roots in Martin's own self-exploration, or perhaps because of it, the project resulted in a series of deeply intimate photographs of couples interacting in their private spaces. Martin shoots each couple in their own beds in an effort to capture them where they're the most comfortable — and, judging from how some photographs feel almost voyeuristic in their intensity, I'd say the tactic worked beautifully.

"In my project I try to celebrate Love par excellence and show that love and sexuality doesn’t depends on sex or gender, only on [people]," Martin writes on her website.

Martin tells Bustle that she initially planned on including a variety of subjects, but the private atmosphere of the photographs suffered as a result. "Due to the intimacy of the subject it wouldn’t work out," she explains via email. "It doesn't make too much sense to go to people's places who you don't even know and spend an hour or two shooting them."

"Since my original motivation was completely personal it made more sense to photograph couples close to my age [including] friends and other people I know ... so I can show one side of our contemporary youth culture in a more honest way," she adds.

The project is ongoing until her exhibition, which is planned for early next year. Check out more of the series below, or head over to her website to view Lovers in its entirety.

Images: Courtesy of Wanda Martin (Website/Instagram)