Could something as simple as a kiss transform the world? St. Paul photographer Bonnie Fournier thinks so, and she's using her camera to prove it.
"Seeing them helps people feel better," Fournier said of the 1,300 images in her online archive of couples smooching, mothers kissing their babies and even those puckering up for their pets.
Fournier is behind the "Smooch! Project," a working collection of 10,000 kisses from around the world. With Valentine's Day around the corner, she's holding a special event in Minneapolis this weekend to be included in the collection. (For information, go to www.lindenhills.coop and www.thesmoochproject.com.)
The project began serendipitously five years ago when Fournier snapped a photo of herself as her twin sister pecked her cheek. That photo sparked happiness in the people who saw it, and she wondered if other photos showing affection would do the same.
With the project gaining traction and attention, her desire to take it worldwide is stronger than ever. Children's Hospital in Minneapolis is looking for sponsors to display 12 Smooch! photographs in the new Children's Specialty Center, and a local independent filmmaker (www. smoochdocumentary.com) wants to follow Fournier into some of the most conflicted areas of the world as she holds free and public photo shoots.
A group of 12 volunteers, which she calls her "Smooch! Project dream team," is helping raise money to make her travels a reality.
"This project has evolved into something so much larger than me and my viewpoint," she said. "I think of it as my life's work ... if I want to leave any sort of legacy to the world, it would be this."