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These Portraits Prove There’s No Such Thing As A ‘Normal’ Family

Photographer Michele Crowe has done her share of celebrity glamor shots and National Geographic -worthy travel-scapes, but for her series, “The Universal Family,” she set out to capture something even more elusive — what family looks like these days. Crowe says she didn’t set out with an agenda to just shoot racially, socio-economically, or gender diverse families — that’s just the reality of family life in the 21st century. Here are a few of her favorite portraits from the Amazon to India, and New York to the Netherlands, and how they interpret the word “family.”

Joseph Ghartey, Jodie Patterson, Georgia Becker, Cassius Ghartey, Penelope Ghartey, Othello Ghartey / Brooklyn, New York, USA.Michele Crowe

“We’re the new normal — a beautifully blended family. We have Black-American, Ghanaian-African, Swiss-German and Canadian cultures in our house. We’re also a transfamily and an active part of the LGBTQ community. We’re into individual expression, love and of course, listening to your parents. Family is what you gravitate towards. It’s the reason for staying and the impetus for doing. Family is everything that matters at the close of each day.”

Bryan & Mia / Levittown, New York, USA Michele Crowe

“It’s family that are with you at birth, death, and everything in between. They are a constant reminder that there are those who love you unconditionally.”

Kanya Devi with husband Setan Rama and shy daughter Sanyata Devi / Village of Najam, IndiaMichele Crowe

“Yes. Family is most important.”

Havva & Botan / Amsterdam, Netherlands Michele Crowe

“Family is very important but my family is in Turkey. When my husband got work I came with him but he is now passed. I stay because back home I could not have an income and afford a home. I stay for my son because I would do anything for him. It’s all for him.”

Heleen, Renea, & Josie / Amsterdam, NetherlandsMichele Crowe

“Heleen and I met 2 months into my travels in Amsterdam. We were both raised in open-minded families and taught to look beyond labels, so when it was love, we were able to go with what our hearts told us, but we were pretty surprised to realize we found each other! We’ve been together ever since and we’ve both been welcomed into each other’s extended family. Having a family of our own wasn’t easy. We’ve had a lot of trials in making that dream come true, but it did in the end. We truly consider ourselves the luckiest women with what we were blessed with. Josie is amazing and surprises us every day.”

Gilles Mordant, Marie Niang, Eva Mordant, Bahia Mordant / Nice, FranceMichele Crowe

“Family is the meaning of life. It’s preparing our 2 girls for their adult life, giving them a sense of community, and care for others. But above all, we are preparing Eva and Bahia to be happy!”

The Bloem Family / Amsterdam, NetherlandsMichele Crowe

“Family is a safe place to practice life.”

The Brun-Peixoto Family / Nice, FranceMichele Crowe

“Family is the peaceful and lively place where I can be myself.”

The Nossa Family / Fort Lee, New Jersey, USAMichele Crowe

“Family means unity and unconditional love and acceptance. Although the latter is sometimes difficult to do with certain members that push your buttons. They are the people closest to you who you call upon for your greatest spiritual growth…”

Rina, John, Redding, & Ruby / Brooklyn, New York, USAMichele Crowe

“Family is everything to us. It’s the ups and downs of everyday life. It’s being together even when we’re apart. Family is eating, cooking, music, camping, day dates and date nights. Sometimes it’s flowing with tears and sorrys. It’s also unconventional and modern. But most of all, it’s a lot of love, snuggles, laughter, and listening.”

Members of the Dassana Tribe / Amazonia, BrazilMichele Crowe

“Without family you get lonely; People are sad when they are alone. We are together for everything, we help each other with everything, and we rely on each other in the village to function.”

Solame and her sons / Varini, Amazonas, Vila Alencar Community on the Mamiraua ReserveMichele Crowe

“Family is everything. It’s really important to me to have my kids grow up around me. I love raising my kids here, It’s a beautiful place for them. We are a part of the Kambeba indigenous group, and having this community work together so closely as friends and a team makes it a nice place to raise children. The environment is beautiful and the people too.”