Updated: Nov 10
As the owner of a photography studio, I've always believed in celebrating love in all its forms, and I truly enjoy capturing the beautiful moment when two become one. I recently had an eye-opening experience that offended my beliefs and reaffirmed the importance of standing up against prejudice. It all began when I decided to gift my photography to a friend for his wedding.
A Thoughtful Gift
Having worked in the photography industry for years, I know the value of professional wedding photos and I wanted to contribute something special to my friend's big day, which was no doubt going to be a joyful occasion. I thought, why not give the gift of photography to capture these precious moments? My intention was to fully partake in the celebration rather than being behind the camera, so I entrusted the task to the photographer who had been with me the longest; someone who had been a dedicated part of my studio for years.
The Unforeseen Challenge
In the week leading up to the wedding we were finalizing the details over the phone. As we discussed the couple, I mentioned my friend's name and when asked for the bride's name I corrected my photographer, clarifying that it was a same-sex wedding with two grooms. Little did I know that this simple revelation would lead to an unexpected and uncomfortable conversation.
Shocked and Surprised Reactions
Initially, my photographer thought I was joking and aked me to be serious. When I reiterated that it was indeed a wedding with two grooms, there was a pause and then a reaction of shock and surprise. It was clear that they were struggling to come to terms with the idea of photographing a same-sex wedding.
The Uncomfortable Conversation
What followed was a conversation I would never have expected. In the end my photographer confessed that it was something they were simply not willing to do. This revelation shook me. As a staunch ally of the LGBTQ+ community, with two children who are part of it, I couldn't fathom how someone who had never shown any bias towards my children could hold these beliefs. Love is love after all, and as photographers it has always been our goal to capture the beauty of the love being celebrated. The conversation continued for several minutes with my photographer continuing to express their discomfort and unwillingness.
I firmly believe that there's no place for bigotry in my life. Determined not to have a homophobe at my friend's wedding, I made the easy decision to personally photograph the pre-ceremony photos and have one of my other photographers cover the ceremony and reception.
A Wedding Filled with Love and Joy
What unfolded that day was a beautiful wedding full of love, joy, and acceptance. It was a wonderful example that love between two people exists regardless of gender or orientation. The atmosphere was charged with an overwhelming sense of unity and celebration. While I did end up working part of it, I was actually delighted in the end to be with them during that portion of the day. I photograph many weddings and always enjoy the energy that is present as the big moment approaches. Seeing my friend experience this with the love of his life touched my heart. Witnessing the excitement, and nervousness, in their eyes renewed my passion for capturing those emotions for all my clients.
A Heartbreaking Discovery
This experience left me heartbroken as I came to terms with my photographer's true beliefs. As time went on my heartbreak turned to anger as I thought about my children. It was another moment of realization regarding what they experience on a regular basis. We may think we know people, but sometimes their true beliefs are hidden beneath the surface. The experience acted as a stark reminder that there is still so much work to be done in the fight against prejudice.
A Time to Say Goodbye
In the end I decided to cut ties with my photographer. It was not a difficult choice as it was the only one to be made. It is important for me to surround myself with people who share my values of love, acceptance, and inclusion. I have always encouraged my children to only surround themselves with people who make them better, and this was a time for me to heed my own advice.
Love is beautiful in all its forms, and it should be celebrated without conditions. When my children were born my love was unconditional. It wasn’t “I love you……unless….”. It breaks my heart that this is the case for so many. This experience has reaffirmed my commitment to advocating whenever possible for those who are marginalized simply for who they love. My initial thought in the last sentence was to say, “who they choose to love”, but let’s face it, we don’t choose. Love is love and it hits us hard without any decision being made.
So, as a parent, a photographer, a heterosexual cis-gender male, and just plain old human being, I will continue to stand for the LGBTQ+ community and work towards a world where love knows no boundaries. Love is worth celebrating, regardless of who is sharing it.