What a great time of year to be a wedding photographer: tradeshow season. Wedding photographers are incredibly busy people, so we pretty much have just a few winter months to rest, recuperate and educate ourselves. Every year I make the trip out to Las Vegas Nevada for the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Expo. Vegas is just about the most unlikely place you would find me otherwise, but this conference is the “gold standard” in wedding photography education. I owe much of my growth and development to the education I have found at this one conference.
This year I have the privilege of my name being listed next to many of the world’s finest photography instructors and I also have the responsibility of offering the first presentation on same-sex weddings at this show. Yes, 10 years after marriage equality began it’s journey across the nation, we are on the brink of a Supreme Court ruling which could bring legally recognized same-sex weddings nationwide. So it is mighty time that us professional photographers start talking about how we can best serve the fastest growing, emerging market in weddings.
In my 15 years as a professional photographer, I’ve photographed more than 200 weddings, so you could say that I’ve gotten pretty comfortable working as a wedding photographer. I have 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 although I had plenty of professional experience to lean on, in many respects I felt like a beginner.
That first gay wedding represented many firsts for me. In fact, it was 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 on 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 so similar in height and weight and couldn’t physically dip or lift each other, made the “standard” images difficult.
Flash-forward to today, and I’ve learned a lot, namely that love is love and that gay and lesbian weddings have a lot in common with straight weddings. However, there are 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 and together we wrote a groundbreaking guide, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Photographing Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Now I am taking the tips and information included in Capturing Love on the Road to the WPPI Wedding and Portrait Photography Conference and Expo: Kodak Alaris Booth #1319 on March 3 at 10am. Hope to see you there! – Thea Dodd