Marriage is steeped in tradition, but the institution is changing. Not just because gays and lesbians are being afforded the right to the legal benefits in an increasing amount of states, but because of the rise of feminists and the death of antiquated ideas such as when you get married, you are your husband’s property, and he can do whatever he wants with and to you. The promise to obey isn’t included in hardly anyone’s vows anymore. And so when we wed—gay or straight—it is as equals. More couples, especially gays and lesbians, are now choosing to both walk down the aisle, accompanied by a supportive family member or friend, but not being “given away.”
Two grooms on their wedding day | Jen Lynne Photography
Yes, weddings are changing, and the professionals in the industry have long been in need of resource to help them sort out how to best help gays and lesbians marrying. Capturing Love: The Art of Gay and Lesbian Wedding Photography
is a quintessential guide for wedding vendors, especially photographers, seeking to better understand the dynamics of same-sex relationships and how they translate to the wedding day. But perhaps just as crucial to point out is that it's a visual celebration of love and commitment, and I think it's a must-read for vendors, couples (gay and straight) planning their weddings and die-hard romantics.
Two brides in love | Kat Forder Photography
It all came together when Thea Dodds, photographer and owner of Authentic Eye Photography
, a boutique wedding and portrait studio based in New Hampshire, called Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com
, an online store and resource for gay and lesbian weddings, to see if she’d be interested in helping her create a how-to instructional on photographing gay and lesbian couples.
Engagement session for lesbian couple | CHARD Photographer
“As a professional photographer, I am constantly trying to improve my skill set. I attend seminars, workshops, expos, webinars, you name it,” says Dodds. “Despite the growing number of same-sex marriages I have not come across a single how-to resource for photographing same-sex couples. There is an enormous amount of instruction in how to pose and photograph a man and woman but nothing to my knowledge about how to pose and photograph two men or two women.”
Two grooms kiss in the city | Leslie Barbaro Photography
Capturing Love features 38 photographers and 46 same-sex couples. Narrowing them down was tough. “In choosing these photographs, we sifted through thousands of engagement and wedding images before selecting those that illustrate key points about the art of photographing same-sex couples, while honestly representing an incredibly diverse community,” says Dodds. “The three critical questions we asked while making image selections were: Are these images authentic? Do these images reflect intimacy? Are these images believable? In the end, we chose photos that were powerful, clever and diverse.”
Capturing Love co-author Kathryn Hamm, left, and Amy Walter on their wedding day
Photo by Suly Uberman
We're fighting for the same rights as hetero couples, yet we need photographers to recognize that we aren't the same as hetero couples. Why? This is the question I pose to Hamm, to get her take on the tricky double-edged sword we deal with in our industry. “I've pitched this book to several mainstream outlets and one of the reasons some folks have been skeptical about it is because of the mistaken belief that gay weddings are the same as straight weddings,” replies Hamm. “It's well-intentioned, to be sure. And, I'm certainly glad that we are parsing words over an expectation of equality! But, while we want the recognition of our legal partnerships to be considered equal, and though we may pay the same amount to book a wedding venue on a Saturday night in June, there are some nuanced differences between straight and gay weddings. For example, to presume that a pose that works for a male-female couple (and all its implied messages about sexuality, gender and power) might work as a pose for a male-male couple or female-female couple can, at best, be awkward and, at worst, offensive. What Thea and I really want to do is to help photographers understand is that it's essential that one meet a couple where they are—regardless of sexual orientation—and capture the authentic and intimate expressions of their relationship. And, in Capturing Love, we do our best to offer some simple but explicit suggestions for photographing same-sex couples that have not historically been included in photography education.”
Engagement photography session for two grooms | Meredith Hanafi Photography