Family Portrait: loving someone so much it hurts
The cover of Family Portrait is a picture of a man squeezing a dog. What is immediately striking is that man and dog have the exact same expression on their faces: desperate love — the kind of love that has a seam of violence running through it — that makes you fear you will squeeze the dog you love to death. It is curious that a picture with an animal could show something so painfully human about what it means to need someone.
A photography magazine interested in documenting new definitions of family, Family Portrait’s co-founder is Brendan Freeman, who publishes True Journal; the magazines have the same luxuriousness about them, with full-size pictures and minimal text.
Another excellent series documents the family of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. When Kuti released his protest album ‘Zombie’, a scathing attack on the Nigerian military, one thousand soldiers attacked and burned down his family commune. His elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. These photographs, shot in Lagos by Sean Thomas, show the legacy Kuti left behind.
Not every feature in Family Portrait is this wonderful. Across the issue as a whole, there is an almost baffling number of pictures of half-naked girls getting into different bodies of water. Sisterhood? Is this the link?
The best photographs show you something messier and more exposing about family: in my favourite, a couple share a slightly awkward, wet-looking kiss.