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.
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.
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:
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.