Are there different challenges for photographers of same-sex weddings? That's the premise of a new book by Thea Dodds and Kathryn Hamm. Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography (Authentic Weddings, $32.95) shows ways for photographers to innovate how they approach same-sex weddings, to make sure to capture the true essence of the celebrations.
Something as benign as wedding photography can indeed be groundbreaking. Ask the folks from Weddings Unveiled Magazine. They had refused to run an ad for photographer Anne Almasy because it featured a lesbian couple. Well, after intense pressure, they caved. Publisher Terri Ireland and Brooke Thomas wrote this letter of apology:
"We are incredibly sad that same sex marriage is still an issue in our society. When we were faced with the decision of whether or not to publish Anne Almasy's advertisement, we acted in a manner that does not reflect our personal beliefs. We truly believe that all love is beautiful and that all people have the right to marry. You might ask that if we feel that way, then why did we make this decision? Honestly, we knew that everyone would not share our belief that all people have the right to marry. The issue is very sensitive and it is also very divided. We knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we published the ad and we knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we did not. We are so sorry that we acted out of fear and uncertainty. We had never been faced with such a decision and we should have acted with our hearts. …
"We love all weddings. We love all people and would never want to anger, offend or disappoint anyone. We are deeply moved by the outpouring of love and support for Anne. We are so sorry that we have disappointed you and we ask for your forgiveness. If Anne would still like to run her ad in Weddings Unveiled, then we would be proud to publish it."
But even though they are just weddings, same-sex weddings can be a challenge not because they are controversial, but because photographers do need to make sure they are not falling into stereotypes, of the male-female dynamic of photo setups.
Capturing Love's authors are experienced in their fields, Dodds as a photographer and Hamm as a wedding "innovator" with experience as president of GayWeddings.com .
"I photographed my first gay wedding almost 10 years ago," Dodds said in her promotions for the book. "And, it wasn't just the first gay wedding I'd worked; it was also the first gay wedding I'd ever attended! I had an absolutely amazing time, but during the course of the wedding and those that followed, I realized that photographing same-sex couples and photographing them well requires more than a 'plug and play' approach from the standard wedding playbook. Simply put, what works for a straight couple won't always work for a gay or lesbian couple. Weddings are changing, and photography education needs to change, too."
The book is both a how-to for photographers and also a photo essay of samples from the work of 38 photographers across the country, including some from the Chicago area (Maggie Rife, Torie McMillan, Dawn E. Roscoe, Denver Smith and Ann Walker of It's Bliss with the cover photo of the book). I would have loved to have seen some more Chicagoans known for their amazing wedding photography, including those who also give back by donating their services to non-profits (Kat Fitzgerald, Rick Aguilar and others.)
Adi and Michael are a couple photographed by Dawn Roscoe. In the book, Roscoe talks about how she had used a traditional pose, which can also work. As GayWeddings.com notes on their Website: "The two men met in graduate school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. They now live in Chicago, where Adi works as a research scientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and Michael works as a speech language pathologist at All Bright Therapies. They got married in the chapel at Northwestern University, and held their reception at a restaurant in Evanston."
The book's cover photo, by Ann Walker, features the wedding party posing at North Avenue Beach in Chicago, offering the simplicity of a horizon "and the steadfast strength of community," as the authors state, "this, we contend, is one of the true opportunities available when working with same-sex couples."
The book also includes a glossary of terms, including "Chosen Family," "Bisexual," "Gender normative," and "Transgender."
This manual for photographers is actually something I would hope any photographer would use as a learning tool. After all, straight wedding photography could benefit from a fresh approach, too.
See www.capturingloveguide.com .
Windy City Times Wedding Guide
Civil Unions: Separate and Unequal to Marriage
Gay and Lesbian Wedding Guide: Business listings
Download full wedding section here: www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/wedding.pdf .