Bronte Price, Australia’s First Certified Marriage Celebrant in Victoria, and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, has written this guest blog post for Zoe Larkin Photography, sharing his tips for photographers thinking of dipping their toes in the LGBTQ+ wedding pool. There is a wealth of information here that is useful for photographers everywhere who could use some inside expertise on how to photograph a gay wedding.
Are you a photographer hoping to make a debut in the same-sex wedding market? If so, then you’re about to treat yourself to many beautiful opportunities in hand. The new wave in the wedding industry offers a lot of interesting new opportunities to wedding vendors. Same-sex weddings demand to be loved and be captured at their best too. You, as a photographer, get the liberty to experiment and excel like never before. But how do you do it? Well, here are five photography tips to consider at every gay wedding.
1. Educate yourself
You’re a part of a celebration that most thought would never happen
Before you even step out as an LGBTQ+ vendor, make sure you know just as enough about the community. Read about the community so that you understand the gravity of the ceremony that you’ll be shooting. Know that you’re a part of a celebration that most thought would never happen, and plan accordingly. Make sure you educate yourself about the traditions that the wedding will and will not include. Keep a note of anything that might be happening for the first time. Learn about the specifics and the essential elements beforehand. But most importantly, set the expectations right. In doing so, you’ll avoid missing anything on the big day.
2. Find out the details beforehand
Every photographer will have their usual way of interacting and booking clients. Phone calls, meetings, email exchanges. While that’s a good place to start, why not dig a little deeper, and create space for the couple to bring up naturally what’s important to them? You might not know all the right questions to ask, and that’s OK! Ask the couple about their story and note every aspect that you must be careful about. Figure out the challenges that you may face on the special date. It’s important to listen without judgement, and learn. If you’re unsure about anything, just ask. As a photographer, it will be your duty to bring out the best, no matter what.
3. Avoid differentiating while shooting
Let go of the fear of failure and obstacles.
It is critical to understand that weddings are and will always be the union of two people in love. Whether straight or gay, your camera still has to shoot love. A gay wedding is like any other wedding when it comes to your work. You still have to show up and shoot whatever is happening. While sensitivity is important, try not to be too conscious of the differences which could cause awkwardness. Let go of the fear of failure and obstacles. Consider it like any other project and give it 100 percent.
4. Capture the love story
While shooting a wedding, make sure that your mind focuses on showing a love story. Not just a gay wedding, but every wedding has a unique love story. As a photographer, it is your job to tell the story visually. LGBTQ+ weddings test photographers because you can’t resort to the tried and tested posing motions of ‘bride does this while groom does this’. Instead, observe how they interact with each other naturally, and if in doubt, ask them if a particular pose is something they’re comfortable with. Try not to make assumptions about who’s in what ‘role’. A gay wedding is a visually powerful content in itself, and your camera should make it compelling too!
5. Find the comfort zone
You may touch a nerve without realizing it.
Maybe you direct them into a pose but the couple isn’t comfortable. What should you do? Well, drop it! Even if it would have been a portfolio piece, respect the comfort zone. The LGBTQ+ community is somewhat sensitive to deal with, and you may touch a nerve without realizing it. You have to let the couple have an upper-hand on what locations and poses they’re comfortable with. The amount of public display of affection has always been a vulnerable subject here. Some might be okay trying out conventional poses seen in every wedding. Some might rely on customized choices. Some may even want to keep it very private and formal. Whatever they choose, make sure your lenses capture their reality.
More than anything mentioned above, be in-line with the community. You can’t be skeptical about the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and yet shoot a gay wedding – your clients will be able to tell, and their unique story may not be honored authentically in the way it deserves. Until you stand for equality yourself, there’s no point in taking up a gay wedding project!