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Lila and Mango
Lila and MangoPhotography Rona Bar and Ofek Avshalom

Love behind closed doors: intimate photos of couples baring it all

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Tel Aviv-based photographers Rona Bar and Ofek Avshalom talk us through their photo series which documents couples in their homes

Tel Aviv-based photographers Rona Bar and Ofek Avshalom connected on Instagram three years ago and quickly began working together. However a year into their friendship the pair became more than just creative collaborators. Now romantic partners too, they have launched Us – described by the pair as “an ongoing project documenting couples in their homes”.

The images they have created so far – which feature couples from all over Israel, as well as London – captures “the warmth and intimacy of people in love in the worlds they have created for themselves”.

“The inspiration for Us came from our desire to tell stories of love and closeness at the height of the pandemic,” Bar and Avshalom tell Dazed. “In order to show how hardships can be overcome together, we started photographing lovers who had gone into lockdown under the same roof, seizing the spontaneity of their connection.” Reflecting on the project, they explain how as a photographer couple they felt instantly connected to their subjects, who welcomed them into their private spaces.

In Us, the focus is on physical intimacy: hugs, kisses, and loving gazes that couple’s exchange with one another when no one else is looking. Facing the camera unclothed, and unfiltered, these couples were encouraged to “let down their defences” and reveal themselves as they are.

“With Us, we aimed to represent couples that are often overlooked by mainstream media,” the photographers say. “What really fascinated us about these lovers’ romantic attraction was its humanity,” adding that, “giving each couple the opportunity to open up freely was a crucial aspect in the development of the photo story.”

Though the series was originally conceived as a response to the lockdowns of the last two years, its relevance isn’t bound to the pandemic. “The message of the project is timeless,” they say. Us tries to distil the everyday minutiae of life as a couple, the comfort of finding love when you least expect it, and the frightening possibility of losing it again. A poignant portrait of life, love and intimacy.