capturing the beauty of friends and lovers with photographer reuel lara

In a series of portraits, Reuel Lara explores the meaning of love in all its various forms.

by Tish Weinstock
28 March 2017, 1:31pm

As one of the great cultural icons of the 21st century (RuPaul) once said, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else!" With that in mind, New York-based artist Reuel Lara took to the concrete jungle to capture images of love in all its various forms. The result is an intimate study of three separate relationships, with couples Taryn and Talore, Dante and Jules, and Kiwi and Peter. "Today, more than ever, it's important to know that love is still strong in our communities," explains Lara. "With this project I wanted to capture real relationships — friends and lovers — and celebrate love in every sense of the word. These three relationships really represent what love is: someone who brings out the best in you, helps you out, cares for you. I wanted to share their stories with the world." Here, we meet the couples to find out everything, from where they met to what love means to them.

Taryn and Talore

How did you meet?
Taryn: I met Talore during my freshman year in high school, we had the same lunch and literally, you just couldn't miss her. She had orange hair, colorful clothes and she definitely wasn't shy. She was a grade higher than me but every time I'd talk to her she was so nice. Eventually I sat with her at lunch too and eight years later, I still call her one of my best friends.

What's your favorite thing about each other?
Taryn: My favorite thing about her is that I've never met anyone else so unapologetically themselves. She doesn't ever bite her tongue, she says what she feels and does what she wants all the time, and could not care less who judges her for it.
Talore: The best thing about Taryn is that she comes with so many different skills. It's so cool to have someone in your life so close to you that inspires you in so many ways. Another quality I value is that we literally have the best times with each other, even if it's for ten minutes. If I wanted to run off to a different state she's definitely the one I'd say "pack your bags" to and she'd be down! She's such a spontaneous friend and I cherish that in her.

What does love mean to you?
Taryn: Love means knowing. Knowing that no matter what happens in our daily lives we will always have each other's back.
Talore: Love to me equally targets a person's energy and feel. You can feel love. Whenever I'm around her it's just no filter, never holding back, and full-on honesty. Love never fades and that's why we're still here.

How does your friendship bring out the best in you?
Taryn: Talore brings out the best in everyone! When I'm around her I feel so comfortable and we both can just spill out everything that's bothering us on the table. She's crazy and nurturing and she has helped me through a lot and she knows it!
Talore: Taryn brings out the inspiration in me. From her eye behind the lens, makeup, directing, etc. And she's a go-getter, whenever she wants something she makes it happen no matter what it takes. I also just enjoy how not only are we insanely close, we're like partners who can team up and make anything happen.

Describe each other in three words:
Taryn: Funny, supportive, and loyal.
Talore: Honest, independent, and a breathe of fresh air. P.S. It's so hard to pinpoint a couple of things when one of your best friends is damn near everything. 

Jules and Dante

How did you meet?
Dante: Surprisingly we just met on the street. I had been seeing her around for a while and my friend called her over when we saw her one day. I was embarrassed but I had been talking about her for a while. It was a series of events that set each other up and everything fell into place. It could have just been a coincidence but I would call it fate.

What's your favorite thing about each other?
Dante: She was a real mystery to me. I couldn't figure her out. I guess I got lost in the mystery so much I became a part of it. I began to feel overwhelmed with inspiration, she was and still is my muse. She sees the world differently from me. She has a way of living that is so liberating to me.
Jules: One of my favorite qualities about him is how he's so understanding of the world and appreciates literally all of its beauty. This is actually such a rare quality in people. He just knows how to move with it and he's definitely taught me to take on this quality. Because of him I feel so enlightened to learn about anything and everything.

What does love mean to you?
Dante: Love is so much more than a feeling. It's the way you view the world. I was always afraid of love because I didn't know what it was. She would tell me she loved me before we even got to know each other, so at times I was confused. I grew to learn that love is something you make for yourself. Not just what society has to say. To me, love should definitely not be reserved for one person. If you let it, love is in everything. It's a state of mind. I guess she taught me what love really was, and our love is strong because we don't let anyone else define it for us.

What's the best advice you've given to each other?
Dante: The best advice she's giving me is to be spontaneous. I guess I've always felt pressured to act a certain way because I was afraid of what others thought. But I could always tell since I first saw her that she didn't care. She walked to her own rhythm, invested in a world of her own. She's really taught me how to live by following what your heart tells you to do. Every moment with her is like a different adventure, even if it's hard to keep up, it makes me happy when we do things without having to worry about what comes next.
Jules: Dante has taught me that love is effortlessly shared and passed on between beings. We share inspiration and he proves my idea that love feels almost the exact same way music makes my heart feel.

Describe each other in three words:
Dante: Words are always hard to use to describe someone because they can't truly capture how beautiful or how amazing that person is. But if I had to choose, they would be effervescent, unparalleled, and gentle.
Jules: If I were to describe Dante in three words I would say that he is "the ocean's water" because he resonates with me, he is such a pure and natural soul, and he will always be there. He is so tender, so soft and flows so smoothly, and I feel so calm and one with him.

Peter and Kiwi

How did you meet each other?
Peter: We met at an art show in NY, we talked at the show and I followed him on Instagram. Everything else is history, honestly.

Best advice the other person ever gave you?
Peter: Kiwi's wisdom inspires me to stay focused, compassionate, and driven. He always motivates me. The best advice he's ever given and that keeps me motivated is "there is only you, so make it count!" Being around Kiwi is like moving in a really fast car but I'm not afraid to crash. He makes me feel so confident in myself and my ideas that failure doesn't even seem possible, and when I do fail he's there to cheer me up.

What does love mean to the both of you?
Peter: Love is making mistakes and becoming greater people through those mistakes. Kiwi has made this clear to me many times and every time I end up becoming a better version of me!
Kiwi: Ever since we met, Peter has been the driving force in my life. He keeps me going and I always feel a better version of me every time I'm with him. Peter gives me advice every day but I feel the best he's given is to not give a fuck and stay focused!

How does the other person bring out the best in you?
Peter: Kiwi has immensely contributed to who I am today. Through my relationship with him, I've learned to be more accepting, and care about myself, and to always fulfill my wants and needs. He has brought me out of dark times and gives me life every day.
Kiwi: Love is being the best YOU so that I can be the best ME, and with Peter there's always that give-and-receive quality about him! Just being around him makes me feel safe.

Describe the other person in three words?
Peter: Kiwi is cute, wild, and insatiable!
Kiwi: Loving, fabulous, and hardworking.

Read: Lessons from William Eggleston about William Eggleston. Is he a photographic genius? Yes, of course he is.


Text Tish Weinstock

reuel lara