Weddings through a new lens

Posted on 03 May 2013 at 8:15am

New book by Dallas native guides photographers and couples through strange territory: Shooting gay weddings

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JONANNA WIDNER  | Contributing Writer
jonanna.widner@gmail.com

The complexities and nuances of same-sex wedding photography probably aren’t the first things that come to mind for a wedding photographer. After all, the art of capturing images of nuptials has been around since the invention of the camera — the template is set, so why not just apply it to LGBTQ ceremonies? Easy-peasy.

Not so much, say Kathryn Hamm and Thea Dodds, co-authors of Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, a new self-published book that serves as the first guide of its kind for educating wedding photographers.

“When you pose two women or two men together, the majority of the time they end up looking like just friends or siblings,” Hamm explains. This is a direct result of applying conceptual and technical rules of wedding photography to gay ones. Photographers relying on same-sex idea for couples’ portraits will find themselves facing some challenges — something prospective spouses should consider when choosing their photographer.

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SHOOTING INTIMACY  | Hamm and Dodds looked for same-sex photos that demonstrated an understanding of how gay and lesbian couples interact that does not make them look like siblings.

“Some of it is understanding the relationship,” as far how gender roles and other nuances play out, Hamm says. “The second part to it is, some of the mechanics the photographer might consider relative to, for example, contrasts in outfit color. If you have two dark-suited gentlemen together, you’re in danger of having a picture of a dark blob with two heads on top of it.”

Dodds offers another example: “A classic [straight] wedding pose [will show] the bride [with] her hand on the groom’s chest. If you’ve got two women, you cannot do that pose, right? That may seem obvious, but if a photographer is working in the heat of the moment, they may not think of that.”

Written in a clear and engaging voice, Capturing Love provides specifics on how to reconfigure wedding photography aspects so that no wedding album will feature two brides feeling each other up ever again.

Hamm and Dodds started working on their book by sifting through thousands of same-sex wedding photographs, assessing them under three criteria: “Are the images authentic?” “Do the images reflect intimacy?” “Are the images believable?” After poring through hundreds of stills, they set to writing, ending up with a book that successfully blends conceptual ideas with mechanical ones. The process only took six months, but you’d never know it from its compelling and refreshingly simple production values.

01_meredithhanafiphotographyThe book begins with a background section, which gives a succinct overview of gay marriage and its attendant issues. After that, Capturing Love centers on case studies of engagements, ceremonies and receptions of real same-sex couples. Hamm and Dodds break down each case, analyze what makes it work, along with a statement from the photographer who took the picture.

Capturing Love is never mushy, instead standing as an intelligently wrought manual for anyone who works weddings or is planning one. On top of that, it works as a subtle critique of the current state of gay marriage.

“The entire wedding-industrial complex is geared toward the bride,” Hamm observes. “So what happens when you have two brides? Or none?”

Capturing Love is available in softback ($32.95) and as an e-book ($9.99) at Amazon.com and other retailers. A limited hardcover edition ($34.95) is available exclusively at CapturingLoveGuide.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 3, 2013.

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