Are All Weddings Created Equal?

It’s a question that probably wasn’t often asked in the past. But lately, we found that there were quite a few wedding photographers wondering if it’s finally time to address the creative conundrum of photographing same-sex weddings.

So we sat down with two of the experts in this field to talk about their experiences, where they think it’s going, and what traditional wedding photographers need to consider before taking on same-sex couples as clients.

The Pioneer and the Veteran Pro

Kathryn Hamm founded the web’s leading online boutique and same-sex wedding resource, Thea Dodd has been photographing gay and lesbian couples since 2005. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and published a brand new book, Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, to fill the void and provide guidance to the many photographers who have been — or want to begin — taking on same-sex weddings.

Photo by Jen Lynne Photography
Photo by Jen Lynne Photography

The Art of Photographing Same-Sex Couples

In our featured podcast, SmugMug’s community director Rocky Bowles asks Kathryn and Thea why the traditional approach doesn’t always work for same-sex couples. They talk about why it’s important to not just be gay-friendly, but good at what you do to succeed in this market. Which includes serious issues to consider, such as:

  • Why you can’t use traditional wedding and engagement poses
  • Why you should be mindful of what your photos are communicating
  • What you shouldn’t assume, or take for granted about your clients
  • Navigating the potential difficulties of family relationships
  • Privacy needs and why it’s particularly important for same-sex couples
Photo by Maggie Rife
Photo by Maggie Rife

Podcast on iTunes

Take a listen to the podcast on iTunes now. The book Capturing Love is also available for purchase at their website, and is full of gorgeous, inspiring, beautiful examples of gay and lesbian photos.

The book is also a wonderful resource for couples, looking to find the right wedding photographer. So pick it up , be inspired, and be better at what you do!

Photo by Meredith Hanafi Photography and Leslie Barbaro
Photo by Meredith Hanafi Photography and Leslie Barbaro

Giveaway! Win a Signed Copy of “Capturing Love”

As we’re ramping up to the festival of love (A.K.A. WPPI 2013), we’re giving away one signed copy of Capturing Love to a lucky person who wants to learn more about this genre of wedding photography.

To enter:

1. ‘Like’ SmugMug’s Facebook page HERE.

2. ‘Like’ Capturing Love’s Facebook page HERE.

3. Then, post a comment below answering this question:

What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?

Get your entries in by March 8th, 2013 and we’ll pick one random winner and announce it in this space.

UPDATE March 8, 2013: We spun the wheel of destiny and our random winner is… Amy Wurdock! Congrats Amy and we’ll be in touch with you via email so you can collect your prize.

Photo by Kat Forder Photography
Photo by Kat Forder Photography

Special Edition, Special Discount

The ladies of Capturing Love are celebrating their first week of national release by offering SmugMuggers a exclusive discount on their special-edition hardcover books purchased through their website.

Books will ship starting March 10th, so be sure you reserve your copy soon.

Good luck, and we hope that you all capture a little love this year!

Offer valid through March 31,2013 and cannot be combined with any other offer.

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I'm a freelance documentary photographer who loves travel, rangefinders, medium format film photography, and everything in-between.

52 thoughts on “Are All Weddings Created Equal?”

    1. Meaning that it obviously makes little difference because all weddings are personalized to the couple, yes?

  1. What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?

    We did three same sex events in Ohio in 2012. Ohio is not a legal marriage state.

    We had loving honest clients. And we had no Bridzillas. What a great experience.

    1. Do the rest of us a favor will ya? Ignore this new market for photography. It will leave more work for the rest of us.

  2. What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?

    Showing that the love between two people doesn’t take into account whether you are male or female, black or white, Catholic or Jewish. Love transcends all of those stereotypes and just becomes the love between two people

  3. I am absolutely astonished at the level of hatred that some of these comments present. I was born in the States. And for the most part I grew up believing that America stood for the belief that equality and human rights for all always superseded bigotry. I wish those values I was taught as a child were true. These two comments border not only on the offensive, they show the state of many Americans who hold their personal religious values above the values of their forefathers – those men and women who gave their lives to ensure that ALL people are held in equal value. They spit on those values and trample on those fundamentally American ideals. I hope we all stand metaphorically with our backs to these hate mongers and look into the light of freedom and love. I believe that within our lifetime these bigots will pass away in the same way that the racists in previous generations have disappeared.

      1. I agree…give me a break…and the vast majority of people in the States and Europe!

      1. it is only wrong when you use the government to impose your beliefs on everyone. This is what I think is wrong. I have no problem with anyone believing that marriage should be only between a man and a women. I also wouldn’t have any problem if your belief were that marriage should be between a man and a woman of the same race only. BUT I object to using this argument in a public forum. In both business and in the public arena one should promote equality and inclusiveness, regardless of a person’s religious belief or sexuality. There are many religious beliefs that I disagree with in a personal capacity, however I would fight until my last dying breathe to ensure that personal beliefs are respected.

      2. How is someone else’s marriage, states away, directly affecting your life? It doesn’t. It doesn’t change how you worship. It doesn’t change how you make supper. It doesn’t change how you and your spouse act to each other and your children. And I understand that it’s your right as an American to voice your opinion. But honestly, how does it affect your life personally?

        1. How year you. I think it’s time that I delete my post. Thanks for all the feedback that I got.

      3. So are you saying you’d rather see a man and woman who are in an abusive relationship where he or she is scared to say no for what the other one would do be married than see two people who are the same sex and genuinely in love with each other be married? I think you need to open your eyes to the world.

        1. There are lots of situations. Life is simple and complicated at the same time. Like I said earlier, I probably shouldn’t have posted anything in the first place. There is a right time and place for every comment, every opinion. This may not have been that place.

  4. I am pleasantly surprised and reassured that Smugmug has taken both the best business and socially progressive decision possible. It is fantastic that Smugmug is not relenting to the bigotry of a small, unrepresentative portion of the population. I hope that Smugmug does not change its mind. As previous comments have mentioned – love transcends all and is not offensive. Photography is not able promoting a particular social agenda – in this case bigotry and hatred – but about reflecting and mirroring all of life’s ups and downs. Bravo to Smugmug for this courageous and sensible decision. And for those people who object to treating people equally and fairly: go hide in a small hole in the middle of some far away desert and leave us sensible adults alone.

  5. I live in WA state where gay marriage is now legal. I went to my good friends wedding on 2/23/13, and they got married at 2:23pm. Pretty ingenious of the to think of wedding time to go with the date. This was my first gay wedding with the new law. My friends have been together for 12 years all ready. They were ready to make it legal, and I could not be happier for them. Their wedding song was not some romantic. mushy ballad, with the two of them embracing. No, they did the traditional “gay song,” YMCA. Ha ha. It was great. Everyone joined in, and thats when the celebration started. As I look back on that evening, enjoying that blessed event not only with my two good friend, but all their friends and family members there as well. Gay and straight people coming together celebrating a great moment, and sexual orientation did not play a part in it. I also realized how lucky I am to live in a place where same sex couple can be married, and have moments like that. Its a slow progress for same sex couples to marry, but we are getting there. I enjoy seeing their wedding photos. It just shows once more that we can love and marry who ever we want, and its just as beautiful as anyone else getting married.

    1. I love stories like this🙂 Congratulations to your friends – I am so happy they finally got their relationship recognized by the state!

  6. What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?

    Usually when you attend a wedding, you are expected to give a gift to the happy couple – or send them something after the wedding. In the case of my brother’s wedding, *I* was the person who received the gift – as he has asked me to be his photographer for the wedding. I typically don’t do a lot of weddings, and I prefer smaller intimate venues, which is what my bother Nick and his partner of 12 years had chosen. I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to photograph Nick and Peter’s special day with tears running down my face on the other side of the camera (nobody knew), but at the same time smiling. I knew I had made smiles on both sides the camera, and that’s always magic.

    Our Constitution says “We The People” – NOT: “We The Heterosexual People”

  7. “What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?”
    It’s love! Why should I, as a service provider, deny someone the ability to show everyone their love? Plus, I’ve noticed the same sex couples that I’ve photographed have given me true expressions because they are happy someone is actually taking the time to give them the images they want! Someone is capturing the joy they feel for them to show the world. It’s so simple and it has nothing to do with politics or right or wrong. It’s just love. And it makes me feel good doing it!

  8. “What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?”
    Their gratitude at being finally able to legally marry, and their gratitude at finding a photographer who shares that joy.

  9. andycockerill :
    So are you saying you’d rather see a man and woman who are in an abusive relationship where he or she is scared to say no for what the other one would do be married than see two people who are the same sex and genuinely in love with each other be married? I think you need to open your eyes to the world.

    Who said anything about an “abusive relationship”??!! We are talking about homosexual marriage. Can you keep your “eyes open” on the topic??

  10. Jesus didn’t shy away from the broken. He mingled amongst the sinners and found that they were worth dying for. Even if you don’t agree it’s certainly not your place to comment and judge the ‘sin’ of others. Churches and religion exist for those that have no were else to turn. If we didn’t have struggle or conflict at what point would you have listened to his words? If it disgusts you, don’t attend and get over it.

  11. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to photograph a same-sex couple, but the reason I’m looking forward to it is that romance, love, and kindness are some of the most beautiful things to experience in the world–they are part of what makes us human. Photography is a powerful tool for change and if we can help make a positive change by capturing precious moments between two people, then what an amazing way to create a better world.

  12. oh boy, mindless people posting about your views of gay marriage – you are in the wrong place. This is a very useful blog for those of us whose business this affects. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Regarding the question: “What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?” Photographing the emotion involved in their willingness to be vulnerable on a platform in front of their friends and family is quite liberating, their vulnerability is my favorite thing. @jillang – This isn’t a discussion about homosexual marriage. This is a blog about a book. Sad to see all the bully types in this discussion.

  13. @smugmug – why don’t you do all of us a favor and start banning the people who are posting off topic, judgmental slurs on this post. This is not a blog about their opinions and they are in the way of meaningful productive discussions about the topic at hand.

    1. Hi Brandi, we’ve always done everything we could to avoid banning or censoring comments by our customers, fans and readers. We do support open discussion and everyone deserves a chance to have their say, but of course we’ll step in if things get out of hand.

      1. I think that deleting someone for being a troll, for being discourteous and rude, or for veering from the topic of the article in discussion is a rule that more moderators should consider adopting. Free speech is fine (great even!), but there are consequences to being rude in society, and one of those is being asked to leave the premises. No one is stopping Jill Lang of North Carolina Pictures from spouting her opinions, but that doesn’t mean that we need to put up with it.

        You are going to scare away people (like me) who don’t have the time or the stomach to wade through pages of rhetoric to read the comments that are actually on-topic.

    2. I think if you ban or block them, you are taking away their right to free speech, whether it’s right or wrong. They are allowed to voice their opinion. But like the old saying goes “opinions are like.. eh hem… buttholes, everyone has one”.

  14. “What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?”
    I love being able to approach the day with excitement, and I love that the couple can be secure in my absolute pride and joy in being able to work for them. There are too many instances (usually in comment sections) of hatred or discomfort, and that has no place in a wedding ceremony – how horrible would it be if the couple had to experience that attitude while looking for a photographer!?!

  15. What I enjoy about photographing same sex couples is for the most part they are more creative and willing to do fun and new and crazy things! And we know how to party!🙂

  16. I only photographed my first civil partnership last year and the one outstanding favourite thing about it was just how much love there was. For the couple, for each other, for the uncertain path that had brought them to this point and my love for the emotional speeches that brought a tear to my eye. I simply loved it.

  17. I love shooting same-sex couples! The creativity and ability to not have to conform to tradition makes the shoot all the more special.

    I am sadden by some of the people who commented on here about an article specifically addressing an issue about photography and saying it’s offensive. This is site is about photography! Photographing the love between two people shouldn’t get you all worked up. If it does, you need to reconsider your priorities.

  18. My husband and I have only had the opportunity and privilege to photography one same-sex wedding since we began doing wedding photography in NH in 2009. The couple, along with their family and friends, were so welcoming to us that at times during their backyard reception, it felt as though we were guests ourselves. It saddens me that there are some photographers out their that would refuse to capture such a wonderful, happy couple so completely and obviously in love. In a way, I’m glad those photographers can and would likely refuse to photograph the event because I believe their discriminatory views would get in the way of producing the beautiful, meaningful and memorable photos that every couple wants and deserves. My favorite thing about photographing that wedding, as with every single wedding, is being able to provide those memorable photos. It means something extra special when you know that the couple had to wait, fight, and persevere through discrimination to make it to that special moment that many couples take for granted.

  19. What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?
    Unfortunately, haven’t had the the pleasure neither the honor to capture/photograph same sex couples, however, my camera/lens does not know about race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs nor political views, as a professional photographer, once i take part in someone’s wedding, I’m not just the guy with the camera, I am a friend who knows the importance of the moment and will do whatever is necessary to capture it.

  20. What is your one favorite thing about photographing same-sex couples?

    The love and happiness of everyone involved! In this respect, same-sex weddings are the same as any other wedding, though. The more unique aspect for the photographer is being able to get a totally different look from traditional wedding photos. It encourages you to be more creative.

  21. My one favorite thing? Hard question! Love trying to capture the private moments between the posed shots, the loving glances and expressions. Favorite thing about any wedding actually!

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