I Just Photographed My First Same Sex Wedding and It Was Fabulous (Of Course)

Oct 22, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

I Just Photographed My First Same Sex Wedding and It Was Fabulous (Of Course)

Oct 22, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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same sex wedding photography

I’m a middle aged, married, hetero, caucasian guy with two kids. I don’t get out much – so I was really intrigued when I booked a gig to photograph my first same sex wedding.

The wedding was a small ceremony under a beautiful old beech tree on the grounds of the Grand Victorian B&B at Reif Estates Winery in Niagara On The Lake. This is the kind of venue that all wedding photographers dream about – it’s hard to take a bad picture here (and to top it off every course of the meal was paired with a different wine).

In other words, I was really looking forward photographing my first same sex wedding – and it was fabulous (of course).

However, one thing that I didn’t realize until I was in the middle of photographing the grooms together was how many of my go-to wedding poses involve very distinct masculine and feminine gender roles.

If you’re a wedding photographer, sooner or later you will find yourself photographing a same sex wedding, so I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few of my thoughts on what I learned photographing a same sex couple.

Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake

Of course 99% of a gay wedding is exactly the same as any other wedding (but maybe a little more fun). All the standard elements are there: preparing and getting ready, the ceremony, candids of the guests, details, photos with the newlyweds and wedding party outdoors, speeches, cutting the cake, first dances etc.

But that little bit that is different needs some special attention if you are a wedding photographer.

One of the prime goals for all wedding photographers is to create a sense of romance and visually show the love the newlyweds have for each other – with bonus points if you can find ways to create photographs that are visually captivating, sexy or fun.

However, many of the standard poses and situations that we use to achieve this involve very defined gender roles.

For example, the photos below show a bride and groom together in a number of standard wedding poses designed to show their intimacy.

Hamilton Wedding Photographer
Hamilton Wedding Photographer
Hamilton Wedding Photographer

Now if you think about it – there is no way you can swap the gender roles any of these photos – you can’t pose the groom lounging on the bride, the bride can’t dip the groom and the groom can’t drop his head for the bride to kiss him on the forehead.

So when you have a gay couple with two men or two women, how do you pose them? How do you choose who puts their head on the other’s shoulder? The situation is complicated further as there are many different expressions of gender within the LGBT community – so what works for one same sex couple isn’t necessarily going to work for another.

I was lucky – my grooms were super fun and easy going – so it wasn’t a big deal – I just put them in a good location with a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish and let them play out the scene.

Here are a few examples of photos of them together that I think convey the same feeling of romance and love that I am used to capturing with heterosexual couples:

Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the LakePaul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake
Paul & Eric's wedding at Reif Estate Winery and the Grand Victorian Niagara On the Lake

As a wedding photographer you have to be cognizant that some of your favorite wedding poses are just not going to work with a same sex couple – so you have to be creative and find other ways of visually capturing a sense of intimacy.

However, at the end of the day it all comes down to your report with the couple, how you work with them, and making sure that they are comfortable with the approach you take to their wedding photos.

You might have to be a little more tactful than you would normally be, but when your subjects are comfortable with you and with each other, the emotion of their wedding day will shine through and you’ll get awesome photos – no matter what.

(Click here for more photos from Paul & Eric’s winery wedding.)

What Do You Think?

If you’d like to share your thoughts on photographing same sex couples or a same sex wedding, please leave us a comment below!

If you are part of the LGBT community and would like to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you.

It’s sad that we have to put a disclaimer here – but this is the internet so please: This is a photography blog – comments about photography are welcome. We understand that people have strong views about gay marriage but this is not the place for that discussion. Comments that are distasteful will not be posted.

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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6 responses to “I Just Photographed My First Same Sex Wedding and It Was Fabulous (Of Course)”

  1. DPJ Avatar
    DPJ

    Those pictures look fantastic. In my mind, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a Gay/Straight/Bis-Sexual or Martian wedding, Love is Love, and the world needs a hell of a lot more of it right now. Congratulations on being open minded enough to take on the day.

  2. Jason Avatar
    Jason

    …it shouldn’t even be a question of ‘same/not same’ – we are photographers, our only challenge it to produce/create compelling images regardless…

  3. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    I’m totally with you on this, except for one line that stuck out to me –

    “Now if you think about it – there is no way you can swap the gender roles any of these photos – you can’t pose the groom lounging on the bride, the bride can’t dip the groom and the groom can’t drop his head for the bride to kiss him on the forehead.”

    I’m afraid I disagree. These roles can be mixed up absolutely, and as soon as you realize that, shooting a gay wedding, a lesbian wedding, a transgender wedding, a straight wedding, hell a wedding with three people becomes way more interesting. Yes, most of your clients are going to want to go for the traditional gender roles, but there are many more possibilities. Posing doesn’t need to be gendered at all, it should be personal and individual. That makes it a lot more difficult, but it also opens up a whole new world for us as photographers and our subjects.

    Happy shooting!

  4. stewart norton Avatar
    stewart norton

    Got my first one next year, really looking forward to it. They messaged me and asked how i would feel about dressing up in a Wonder Woman costume….luckily turns out they were winding me up !

  5. Clement RENAUT Avatar
    Clement RENAUT

    “And I made a blogpost to make an ad about it”…

    A gay wedding, is a wedding, just as a lesbian or a straight wedding.

  6. Corky Avatar
    Corky

    I no longer shoot weddings, but starting in 2007 I began a string of only same sex weddings.
    I didn’t choose them,they liked me and my work.
    They were way more fun than most of the straight weddings I did.