For the last 18 months I’ve been on an intellectual journey…and I’m still on it. A few years back, I noticed that photographing same-sex couples and same-sex weddings sometimes required a different approach than straight weddings. I was intrigued that despite the wealth of continuing education for photographers, there wasn’t a single resource for photographers on working with same-sex couples. So I did some research, looking for the most prominent authority of same-sex weddings and I ended up on the phone with Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com. I told her my thoughts and experience and she said, “there isn’t a resource, well then we have to make one.”
18 months later, Kathryn and I have written the that resource… twice. The first book, Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography we self-published in Jan. of 2013. Five short months after the book was released, we signed a deal with Amphoto to expand the book, double the content and re-release under the title: The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography (on-sale date May 6, 2014).
A photographer becoming an author is a journey in and of itself…but the real journey for me has been as an artist who wants to be the best possible photographer for all of my clients. My artwork is informed by, and a reaction to, my understanding of the world around me. Well it turns out my understanding of the world has been through a heteronormative filter and I didn’t know that. To remove (or at least diffuse) that filter has been a process of identifying assumptions and conversations about differences. Many times I have found myself outside of my comfort zone and outside of my realm of expertise. But something amazing has come from this hard journey… Trying to better understand same-sex couples, so I can better photograph them has helped me re-think my process for better serving all couples.
My couples portraits in the past have operated under the assumption of a “binary and uncomplicated sense of identity” (Amy Ryken). This is why, when I photographed same-sex couples I could see something “off” in the photos but I didn’t know what or why. My experience and world-view was suddenly highlighted. Thanks to thought leaders, like Kathryn Hamm, Amy Ryken and others, now I can use this more complex understanding of identity to better understand all of my clients and capture more authentic and meaningful portraits.
I am always looking for a fresh perspective on how to capture the almighty wedding day differently. I think linearly and I photograph the wedding day like a timeline. Nothing wrong with that, but I am at a point in my career where I am trying to dig deeper and go further with the work.
I just read an article about photographer, Jonathan Grassi, who creates a wedding album from portraits of the guests, taken in their hotel rooms, before the wedding. Now these aren’t your average portraits, there are elaborate and at-times, extremely creative and other times, a little kitschy.
I am very interested in this idea, because it is a completely different way to approach the wedding story. I don’t see myself running out and re-creating it per say, but I am interested in how I can change my thinking about what are the ‘must-have’ wedding photos. Have no fear clients, I will still capture the ‘must-have’ moments and hopefully some ‘new-have’ moments too.
I photographed my last wedding of the year on Saturday in Center Harbor. Mark and Rachel and their combined 6 children were a pleasure to photograph. Mark’s parent’s home in Center Harbor is a beautiful old timber frame, which lent itself very well to an intimate wedding.
I wrote yesterday that I had two very emotional weddings over the weekend and here is the second. Katye and Brian were married at the Exeter Inn in Exeter, NH. Katye brother left for Afghanistan just days before and her father has been suffering from a degenerative disease. Needless-to-say, emotions were high and amazingly so was the couple’s spirit. They celebrated Katye’s brother’s four children in the wedding party, Kayte walked her Dad down the aisle and she held her dad standing (in heels) so he could share a parent dance with her. Not a dry eye.
I truly treasure the glimpses I get into couple’s lives on their wedding day. As the season comes to an end here in November, I feel a little nostalgic for all the couples who have shared their wedding days with me this year.
This weekend I photographed some of the most lovely couples of my career! My weekend started on Friday with Veronica and Ellen at the Steele Hill Resort in Sanbornton, NH. This was a wedding 28 years in the making.
Veronica and Ellen have been together for 28 years and since DOMA was over-turned, they wanted a legal marriage. At first they thought they would just elope to a marriage equality State (like New Hampshire), but when they shared that plan, many of their family and friends wanted to join them in support.
Veronica and Ellen were visibly overwhelmed by joy at their wedding. Veronica kept saying, “I just can’t believe we are really here, celebrating our wedding.”
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