This post is by Thea Dodds, the owner/photographer of Authentic Eye Photography, a boutique wedding and portrait studio based in New Hampshire. Thea is the co-author of Capturing Love:The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, along with Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com. Visit www.capturingloveguide.com to order the book and find a list of our scheduled appearances, and “like” us on Facebook for updates!
In my past fifteen years as a professional photographer, I’ve photographed more than two hundred weddings. So, you could say that I’ve gotten pretty comfortable working as a wedding photographer. I’ve got an established routine to meet and exceed my clients expectations, and I’m able to offer guidance, based on my extensive experience, to better create beautiful and lasting wedding photographs for them.
But, in 2005, I photographed my first same-sex couple’s wedding and realized that, while I had plenty of professional experience to lean on, I felt, in many respects, like a beginner.
That first gay wedding represented many firsts for me. It was, in fact, the first same-sex wedding I’d ever attended. It was the first wedding I’d ever photographed where neither member of the couple was wearing a wedding gown. And it was the first wedding where the ceremony kiss turned out to be the first time this couple had ever kissed in front of their families.
This couple was fantastic, two beautiful people who truly and deeply loved one another. But capturing their love in camera was challenging. My “regular bag of tricks” was no help when I tried to convey the level of intimacy I usually capture at a wedding. Even simply posing this couple, because they were similar heights and weights, made the “standard” images difficult, since they couldn’t physically dip or lift each other.
Flash forward to today and I’ve learned a lot. Namely, that love is love and gay and lesbian weddings have a lot in common with heterosexual weddings. There are, however, some key differences that a photographer must understand and I wanted to do something more to share my experience with other photographers.
That’s why I called Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com, a the first online resource specializing in support and information for same-sex couples, their families, and the Wedding Pros who wish to work with them.
The end result of that fateful call? Together, we designed a groundbreaking guide—Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Photography—designed to help photographers and engaged couples understand the art and mechanics of photographing lesbian and gay weddings and engagements.
To understand in depth what we’ve discovered and the tips and information gleaned from so many talented photographers and beautiful couples, seeing a copy of Capturing Love is well worth the time and effort. We scoured through thousands of photographs to select 65 outstanding examples of same-sex engagement and wedding photography, which represent the work of 38 photographers and 46 couples from 19 states, Canada, the U.K. and Italy.
Seasoned photographers will recognize this pose from the traditional wedding playbook for grooms and their best men. This casual, yet connected pose generally conveys a connection of friendship and support. In this image, however, the direct and meaningful gaze shared by the two men indicates a much closer, more intimate relationship.
Nothing says love like a nuzzle. The challenge with a couple of the same height (often occurring for same-sex couples) is getting the couple close without covering up too much of their faces. Layering their bodies is key to solving this challenge. Guidance with phrases like, “put your shoulder into your partner’s armpit,” can reduce confusion so the couple can stay in the moment and focus on their nuzzling.
It can be challenging to create contrast and visual appeal when photographing two grooms in matching tuxedos or dark suits. Here, the simple request to have one groom hold his jacket over his shoulder creates a nice contrast between the men, and it allows plenty of room to play up the traditional wedding colors: black and white. At the same time, the slight difference in height is played to perfection with a thoughtfully posed embrace and gentle kiss to the forehead to finish this tender moment.
With two brides, you might have two bouquets for one couple, and large bouquets can be an obstacle when creating physical closeness in an image. Photographer Kat Forder had her brides lay their flowers aside so they could get close. The result? A classic wedding pose with a playful, color-infused twist.
Wedding couples are often photographed kissing in public. Even those couples normally averse to public displays of affection may be game for this pose on their wedding days. Even so, this pose doesn’t always convey the love and connection it intends to symbolize. Enter two grooms—or two brides for that matter—and this pose takes on a whole new dimension. A same-sex kiss shared in a public space remains inherently powerful and meaningful, both as a symbol and reality.
We are standing at the edge of a new frontier of weddings; one inclusive of all couples of all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, religions and orientations. These are exciting times indeed and Kathryn and I look forward to the exciting developments to come for same-sex couples and their inspirational weddings.