Love in a Photo Booth Photo: Courtesy of the Nini Treadwell Collection

The new book LOVING: A Photographic History of Men in Love reveals the romantic love between men in hundreds of moving photographs taken between the 1850s and 1950s. Now the authors are sharing some of the never-before-seen photos exclusively with LGBTQ Nation this month along with their thoughts and the backstory behind each photo.

The photos come from the collection of a married couple, Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell, who have meticulously collected over 2,800 snapshots, portraits and group photos over the past 20 years.

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The couple found them at flea markets, in shoe boxes, real estate sales, family archives, old suitcases, and online auctions. Your collection now includes photos from around the world.

The technology used consists of ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, glass negatives, color types, cabinet cards, photo postcards, photo strips, photo machines, and snapshots – over a hundred years of social history reflecting changing fashion, hairstyles, and societal developments in photography.

The men in LOVING shared a common desire to be seen and to recall their stories despite the risks. Each picture is an open demonstration of love, affection and also bravery. The message here is as old as time, but from an unexpected and hitherto silent source.

The photos challenge boundaries, are universally accessible and overwhelmingly effective. They speak for our spirit and our resilience, our capacity for happiness and our longing for the common truths of love. It moves the conversation beyond old stereotypes and shifts the narrative to where it should have been all along: two people in love can be anyone, regardless of gender, orientation, or other man-made divide.

Photo booths did not require a third party to take the picture. Courtesy of the Nini-Treadwell Collection

Photo booth

Undated

52 x 39 mm

Provenance: USA

Hugh and Neal: This is a wonderful example of a photo booth photo that is a very important category in our collection. The photo booth was the safest way to remember the relationship of a romantic male couple with the minimal risk of exposure.

By using a photo booth, the motifs in one role are put into three important roles. You are the subject, the photographer and the developer. Being all three eliminated any third party involvement. Many loving male couples used the photo booth to capture the love they had for one another safely for the story.

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