Hands-and-rings image altered and published within the parameters of the Creative Commons license
Prior to #boycottindiana, I wouldn’t have thought a wedding photographer would turn away an LGBT couple because of some “deeply held” religious dogma. But with Indiana’s recent passage and subsequent amendment of its “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” wedding vendors are suddenly in the national spotlight. And a few photographers may be grappling with the question of whether or not to shoot LGBT weddings.
I have little to say about religion, and plenty to say about photography. And about love. My beautiful wife and I are together after nearly a decade. If some pious baker or caterer or photographer had the gall to refuse service to my wife and me because the vendor “doesn’t like our kind,” I might feel insulted. But most of all, I would feel sorry for the vendor.
Think about it. Based on whether paying customers are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, allergic to peanuts, whatever — you would seriously turn them away? Because you fear rejection from your deity and/or your community of faith? If so, you might not want to hear what I’m about to say. But I’ll say it anyway.
They’re LGBT weddings, not snuff films
Embracing LGBT weddings isn’t bad for business. But there’s an even better reason to “just shoot it.” As an artist, you might want others to find beauty and truth in your photos. What do you see when you point your camera at two people as they exchange wedding rings? Do you see the love they share, or are your subjects just two disparate beings tying the knot so they can avoid awkward conversations with friends and family? You can’t shoot what you can’t see.
You might not be comfortable photographing LGBT weddings. But working through your hangups is one of the ways artists make masterpieces. If you can capture human emotion with your lens (e.g. fine art photography and photojournalism), LGBT weddings could make you a better photographer. You might start to see dyadic love that you couldn’t see before. You might even realize someday that your photos of straight weddings are more meaningful too.
If you won’t shoot, we will
Your refusal to shoot LGBT weddings is just plain dumb. If that’s how you run your business, odds are your business won’t be around much longer. See, I’m not the only photographer who will gladly scoop up the same-sex couples you diss. Almost any photographer would be happy to help two people preserve their wedding memories through beautiful photos.
My advice to other photographers? Just shoot it. I’ve had plenty of clients over the past 20+ years with whom I didn’t agree on many of the things that they (and I) hold dear. So what? I’m a professional. If someone pays me to perform a service, the job trumps any private clashes we might have.
You’re a wedding photographer. Your job is to catch the magic that can only be seen on the day when two loving people wed. Don’t cap your lens and shut your eyes just because a couple doesn’t match your rigid definition of what lovers should look like. Curb your dogma, fine tune your focus, and just f-ing shoot it.