If friendship, family, love and laughter aren’t consciously placed at the top of your Christmas Wish List, you may well have your head blindly implanted in the stress of the pre-Christmas rush, smothered under a freshly delivered topsoil of work, or even buried deeply in the bah humbug resentment that skirts loosely around the edges of the Festive Season.
While we’re all out and about, running maniacally, squabbling over the last of the latest Wii game, the perfect number of kg for the Christmas chook, or being unable to find a Go Go Pet hamster within a 400km radius of any shop standing on Australian soil, it’s easy to get caught up in the be-tinselled swirl.
If you, too, have allowed your credit card numbers to tumble into retail like a freshly smacked piñata, you more than anyone will understand that Christmas has become a somewhat costly, material-amassing affair. Ironic, then, that the most valuable commodities – friendship, family, love and laughter – are free. With these freebies, our Christmas, or indeed our very lives, can become calmer. More tender. More meaningful. And of course – more beautiful. How easily we forget how much beauty these simple elements can bring to our lives.
And I’ve seen just the book to prove it.
Edited by Geoff Blackwell, a New Zealand-born book publisher, Friendship Family Love & Laughter is a large, glossy, hardcover and dust-jacketed book featuring a collection of 150 extraordinary images. And it’s a treasure to behold.
Blackwell’s latest book comes 10 years after his original tome – ‘M.I.L.K.’ (Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship) first stunned the world. Inspired by a landmark photographic exhibition from the 1950s entitled ‘The Family of Man’, Blackwell was inspired to begin an epic worldwide search for photographs that captured the essences of intimacy, laughter and kinship.
The richest project in photographic history, the M.I.L.K. search unearthed entries from over 17,000 amateur and professional photographers in 164 countries. A total of 40,000 images, including Pulitzer Prize winners, were eventually amassed and 300 images became the basis for this remarkable collection of works.
Now, a decade later, this smaller collection is by no means less impressive. Featuring 150 extraordinary images from around the world, this beautiful book continues to celebrate moments of intimacy, laughter and kinship.
You don’t need to be a photographer or image collector to be thoroughly moved by this book. Images range from a pair of swamis swathed in orange robes to lovers on a pebbled beach, from geriatic nudists to muslin-wrapped babes. We meet glossy-eyed toddlers, soldiers leaving for war, Colombian children giggling behind their hands, a groom clicking his heels on an Irish laneway, a kissing couple on a Kombi in Canada, just to name a handful.
But what’s extra special about these images, other than the emotion that is conjured and the goosebumps that kiss the skin, is that they feature the everyday lives of people all over the world. Many of these images form a part of the everyday lives of the photographers, showcasing their own families, their own friends, their own private universe. The result shows something extraordinary in ordinariness. It shows beauty in banality and that there’s something breathtaking in utter humanness.
Within our capacity for intimacy, vital elements for happiness are encased, and Friendship, Family, Love & Laughter certainly delivers these elements – aesthetically, emotionally, spiritually. It encaptures and stuffs its pages full to brimming with a mighty fine celebration of all things human and all things beautiful. What better way to celebrate the essence of Christmas?