Photographing Gay Couples: Love Is Love
As a professional photographer, I truly love photographing gay couples. I write this post because it’s about fairness, acceptance and, of course, Love. I am purposely posting this right before Valentines day because again, these images are about Love.
In case you didn’t already know I am a HUGE supporter of the LGBT Community. Many of my closest friends are gay, bi-sexual or transgender. Guess what? They are amazing people. Guess what else? I wouldn’t wish their struggles on anyone.
Those struggles, however, made them the amazing people they are today. They are people that would do anything for a friend, lay it all on the line, dance with you in the rain and on a counter at Starbucks - just to get you to smile. They will gently remove tears from your cheeks and give you a shoulder to lean on. Why? It’s simple. They fight to be who they are every single day of every single minute.
When I grew up I thought gay was normal. My mom had gay friends and so did my sister. My mother always taught me that it doesn’t matter, and that their love was special because they had to fight for it. I grew up in a world of Drum and Bugle Corps (Blue Stars) and Winter Guard. They are also large supporters of the gay community because there are people of every orientation in them.
I had two instructors, Al and Shae, and they had been together since they were teenagers; they also both contracted the HIV virus. I watched these amazing men teach every weekend for 14 hours straight, even though they were in pain and suffering. These men would get up with the sunrise and totally take it in - together - holding hands. They would sing and dance and make you laugh. They are gone now, and died very close together; I really believe one couldn’t live without the other.
In high school, I was shy. When people would try to talk to me, I would usually snap. I felt put on the spot and was embarrassed to even have people talk to me. Color guard and dance brought me out of my shell…no, my gay friends did. They were the ones that taught me to sing to the sun, dance in the rain and screw what anyone else thinks.
It kills me that, in high school, some of my friends who were not out didn’t have the support most young teens do today. I couldn’t imagine living a lie just to survive mentally and physically. While bullying is still a issue today, I think things are finally improving. People don’t have to hide anymore and they are slowly getting the rights they should have always had. I am happy to say there are happy gay couples living amazing lives, but it was hard for them to get there.
In the past, fellow photographers have warned me about being “out” as a gay couple/family friendly photographer:
“You will loose clients.”
“They will blast you on Facebook.”
“Parents won’t want you to photograph their children.”
“Don’t do it, it will RUIN you!”
How is this bad?
It is awkward enough for a client to call and ask for a session and then feel obligated to explain away their partner, wife or spouse? They shouldn’t have to but there are still many photographers who refuse to photograph gay couple, who don’t want such images in their portfolios.
I am not one of those people.
Which is why I am putting it out there that I love photographing these lovely couples, individuals and yes..families - no different than yours. They wake up, put on their big girl (or boy) pants and deal with the day.
However not like most people, they have to wonder: Will my boss fire me? What about my partners surgery? Why can’t add her to my insurance? How many more times do I have to explain how our child came to be or say who is their real mother/father?
So I try to take that pain away by putting my support out there. The results? Something like these two emails sent in the last few months:
Do you realize you are providing services to abominations? You will go to hell. I hope no one uses your services. How dare you promote such a life style. No professional in their right mind would support what you do. I will tell my friends and church to never use you for weddings or their childrens photos. I pray you find god and avert your path to a fiery eternity in hell. Then again at least you will be with your friends!
Well….that was rather nice, huh?
I stumbled across your blog and wanted to say THANK YOU. Thank you for being the photographer who isn't afraid to show love to the gays. I happen to live in a VERY gay friendly county...and when Obama did all that gay rights stuff and Chik-Fil-A, etc., I decided to be one of the very few business to support gay rights on my business page on Facebook. I could NOT believe all the gay bashing and disgusting messages to my inbox about how "I will never work with you because of your feelings about gays, etc." Nowhere on there did I state that I was gay, just that I merely supported it and I couldn't begin to tell you how mad people here got and how much business I lost over it! I wanted to say THANK YOU for being confident enough in your business to post and shoot what you enjoy. I am unsure of the reasoning behind your sessions with gay couples but I really appreciated viewing them. I tried searching for couples here to offer sessions a while back and got all No's. I wish to someday to be able to offer to gay sessions without people shunning me for it. Thank you for reading; I love your work.
I hope that on Valentine's Day when you snuggle down with the one you love, you realize it is not so easy for some people. Love what you have and show it proudly no matter who you are.
My biggest pride is raising my kids to feel the same way.
So why do I put it out there? I want people to know and I want these couples to feel safe. I don't want a gay couple or family to feel the need to explain anything to me. We can change the world one person at at a time and that time is coming if you like it or not.
Why do I love it? If you ever want to shoot a intense session, shoot a gay couple in love. They fight for it, they value it, it's not easy for them to find. Cherish the moment no matter who your client is or who they love.
Wife | Mom | Photographer | Designer | Nerd