I recently had the pleasure of shooting my first same-sex wedding. I had shot one other same-sex wedding, but as a second shooter, never for my own clients. I remember meeting with TJ and Marcus at a coffee shop, in which I nervously had crème brûlée and coffee at a quiet corner table while waiting for them to arrive. They came in with so much energy and laughter, some of my favorite types of clients…full of life.
I pulled out my wedding albums, all full of women marrying men. I remember thinking, “There is no way they are going to book me, there are no same-sex weddings in my portfolio.”
This didn’t seem to be an issue at all for TJ and Marcus. They looked right past that; it was just about me and my work. So, I was beyond happy when they called to book me for their wedding! I started prepping a contract, but when I looked at my paperwork, everything referred to brides and grooms. After some time searching online, I found resources on how to make wedding photography contracts gender neutral.
Other questions came up:
Who do I focus on while they’re getting ready? (I admit I usually focus on brides during preparation.)
How do I pose two men?
…and so on.
I called one of my close friends who photographs a ton of same-sex weddings and one thing she warned me about is that it can be challenging to help same-sex couples feel comfortable being affectionate in public because they’ve faced discrimination. We had some popular tourist spots on the itinerary – the Capitol, the Supreme Court, etc. How comfortable would they be? Even though I was crazy excited, I was very nervous.
As the ceremony started, all those fears went away and I was filled with excitement. The whole wedding was a photographer’s dream. They were married at a museum for womens’ rights, so the hallways inside were filled with artwork and newspaper articles about womens’ path to equality. A battle that same-sex couples know very well.
I’ve witnessed over 200 couples get married. I can truly say that the connection between TJ and Marcus is one of the strongest I have ever seen. These two were meant to be together. I had one of those moments that I’m sure all photographers have had, in which I was glad I had a camera to hide my tears during the ceremony.
TJ learned and said his vows in German for Marcus (a complete and total surprise), and Marcus being a musician, composed his vows perfectly, “My love, I promised you once that ‘I shall believe. And you have shown me…”
Thank goodness for autofocus; thank goodness I can hide my eyes!
After the ceremony, we walked over to the Supreme Court and took photos on the front steps, above was a giant etching that read “Equal Justice Under Law.” When we moved on to the Capitol, it was clear that I didn’t have to worry about helping these two be affectionate. They were so happy and couldn’t stop laughing, smiling and touching each other. Joy was overflowing, and I was smiling and clicking away.
I left feeling very happy, thinking thank goodness I live in a place in which TJ and Marcus can get married. People who love each other this much have every right to be legally together. I cried more after the wedding, all happy tears, all overwhelmed by their connection. A happy day for love.
About Kristi Odom:
Kristi Odom has a background in travel and nature photography that she brings into destination wedding photography. She has photographed weddings around the world including Ethiopia, Australia, Ireland, Thailand, amongst other locations. Her adventurous side tends to come out in her shoots; may it be shooting a wedding in a blizzard, on top of a castle in Ireland, or along the edge of cliffs.
Kristi’s work has been seen in Times Square, Rollingstone’s website, National Geographic’s website, Eco-Beautiful Weddings, United With Love, Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, Kodak’s website, amongst others.