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Photographer Burns Couch, with a Bride on It, Bringing Attention to Divorce

Photographer Burns Couch, with a Bride on It, Bringing Attention to Divorce

New Zealand photographer Tom Hollow has an interesting photo series titled "Love Lost." Tom took an old couch, put a bride on it, set it on fire, and took pictures of the whole thing. Tom initially just thought it would be a fun idea for a shoot. It wasn't until after the session he realized he could do something more with the images.

It has been said that about 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. Even though this statistic is very misleading, and some argue that it is not true at all, divorce is still a rising problem in America. Tom decided to bring some attention to this rising problem with his photo series "Love Lost."

Tom is an old co-worker of mine, who recently moved back to New Zealand. While he was here in America, he photographed the series "Love Lost." I reached out to him to ask him about the session, and to find out how he got the idea for the burning couch.

FS: So burning a couch is pretty random. How did you get the idea to use it during a photo session?

The idea came from an old broken couch we needed to get rid of. This couch was donated to a youth group I ran. We decided to burn it. Because that's fun.

FS: What was the biggest difficulty during the shoot?

I'm not sure if we had any big difficulties however it was a process to get a crew together to work with. I ended up having the help of friends and fellow photographers Bobbi Tolman, Jimmy & Brittany Bush. Bobbi also modeled for us - brave soul. Another thing that proved tough was finding a location that we were able to safely burn a couch and dispose of. Luckily a friend of mine owns a small quarry and grading plant which was perfect. He also provided a weed flame thrower to get some real flames going, and heavy machinery such as a bulldozer which he lifted me up in the bucket so I could grab some high angle shots. Thanks to everyone who helped out!

Bride, Bobbi Tolman, next to the burning couch.

FS: What's the story behind the shoot?

The story behind the shoot went like this in my head... Old couch - burn it - photograph it - would look cooler with a bride - photograph bride on a burning couch - fun.

FS: How did you become inspired to link the photo series to divorce?

It wasn't until after the shoot that I realized I had some cool images in my hands. It was then that I figured it should have a story behind it. After my move from New Zealand to the United States and the slight culture shock that came with it, I fell upon divorce being my topic of choice. Why? Other than it fitting the images perfectly, I chose divorce because it's everywhere in the USA. I don't believe in it. Call me traditional but I believe when you marry you're in it for life - hard times and all. This is a large topic, I understand, and we could probably discuss both sides for weeks on end. However, when it comes down to it I believe we could avoid a large chunk of the ever growing percentage of divorce rates by putting our spouse above ourselves and living selflessly. That was my aim.

The heat of the couch forced Bobbi to move further away from it, so Tom got creative.

You can check out more of Tom Hollow's photography on his website and his Facebook.

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Love these images and the concept behind them.

Amazing concept and very well done!

Cheers for the write-up mate!

While the image is "kinda cool", I find the premise to link it to anything other than "a bride with a burning couch" tangental, at best. The whole outfit aside (let's shoot models in lingerie in an industrial setting... because, you know, that attire _completely_ makes sense for that environment!), finding a topic for a photo shoot after it was conceived and created is a bit like painting a portraiture and then trying to find someone that looks similar to hawk it to.

Call it what it is - you burned a couch and put a model on it. Trying to apply any significant, meaningful message to it after the fact is paltry.

Well said.

With art being so subjective, I think this is a very narrow minded approach to viewing these photos. Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing you of being narrow minded, I just feel it is only fair to present another perspective. Yes, the artist originally simply put a girl in a wedding dress in front of a burning couch, however artistic approach works differently for every person; just because a conceptual idea came after the art was conceived does not remove that relation from the piece. I think art is all about self discovery, and finding that something has different meaning to you after you create it is a natural part of the process.

That may work for people who paint with splatters on a canvas, but imagine I went out and shot some sea gulls on the beach and then decided I wanted to attribute it to a message about coastal habitats in danger. Sure as "an artist", I can say whatever I want about the image and hope someone is snake-oiled into it, but the work has MUCH less impact then if I set out with a message in mind and shot images supporting that message.

It's just weak. Call it whatever you want. I'm not buying it.

I hear what you're saying. So, basically you would reshoot the sea gulls with the new found intention to better capture the context of their habitat being in danger. Most likely you would come back with more compelling imagery than stumbling upon a meaning afterwards.

Or shoot sea gulls on a burning couch. ;)

I think you're on to something, mate ;)

Every artist see's the world differently. I think you're limiting your potential and your perspective.

Nah. My potential is all good, mang.

Alrighty; to each their own brother.

I wanted to give you a thumbs up and a thumbs down. I just gave your comment the thumbs up anyway. However, Daniel makes a valid counter point. I gave him a thumbs up too. I guess that means my comment is irrelevant. lol

It's ok to be diplomatic.

Thanks Daniel! :)

I replied to Daniel's comment. Perhaps that gives it (my) perspective.

I'm sorry you don't like me sharing my perspective brother. But since this is a public discussion, I'll do it anyways.


Cool shoot. Bet you could find more than a few divorced brides to dig up their old wedding gowns for a concept like this!

These are great!! My favorite one the the last one, it says it all to me:)

Without the 'story' I would've never thought of 'divorce'. And yes, they happen a quiet lot here in the Netherlands too, just didn't feel the link (Still don't). The images are okay, and the last one is my favorite of them all. (With okay, I mean the composition (weird angle's) are not my thing) :)

I'll agree with some others here that the direct connection of divorce isn't really made in the shots.

Considering that, I'll also add that I'm very happy that the model's dress did not catch fire in creating ineffective compositions. Considering her gown, she was quite potentially endangered in this shoot.


My favorites are the 2nd one and the last one. I think in this case the images speaking to the artist to derive a "concept" after the fact is a very true form of expression and the nature of what it is to be influenced by an image or imagery. Well done.

Interesting idea and a great attempt as well. Amazing work!

That's Great!