For quite a while now I have come across some wedding industry players dedicated to "same sex wedding" or a "gay wedding" - treating it like a niche. I like to think such thinking doesn't make any sense in today's free, tolerant society. Are there any special skills a vendor need do acquire to work on a wedding of a same sex or gay couple to make it into a niche? None that I can see.
Some destination weddings require specific skills of dealing with other cultures and understanding other languages. Culture specific weddings like asian weddings or jewish weddings certainly require the photographer to know and understand such rituals.
Gay weddings or lesbian weddings or same sex weddings - whatever you want to call them - are just like any civil ceremony.
The UK wedding industry - and the UK photographic industry in general - is very influenced by the trends and developments in North America. In fact, recently gay weddings received a surge of recognition all over the world after the Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. (2015) case. It was a landmark US Supreme Court case in which the Court held in a 5–4 decision that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. (Sorry about the legal-nerdy reference, but this is my former legal-advisor-self speaking for himself).
Now, the very fact that those distinctions live on only prove much remains to be done to eliminate discrimination against gay people. Last week I heard colleague commenting on how sad he was because a gay couple he was going to shoot wanted him to avoid using flash (part of his distinctive style), as they didn't want to draw attention and "run into troublemakers". Obviously, he was said about the motive, not about the actual use of flash.
Whatever the kind of wedding, the very fact that people seek public, legal, official recognition of their union is just lovely and much admirable. People decide to commit publicly to one another and celebrate that in public - and I believe that is strong enough to eclipse any sort of discriminatory stain (albeit subtle) beneath these distinctions.
This brings me to the recent wedding I shot in Storrington, a nice, country town in West Sussex (right on the north side of the South Downs), in England. There is nothing but an intimate, homemade celebration of love.
Philippa and Nadia got married abroad, in France. It wasn't a destination wedding, though. They both live there and got married locally to simplify legal matters. Two weeks later, they gathered their families in the UK plus a bunch of friends from several parts of Europe for a cozy, familiar, quintessentially British, garden wedding celebration on Philippa's parents own garden.
The scene looked like a frame of the Great British Bake Off series. A lovely, well looked after garden, a white tent to prevent the ubiquitous English summer showers, wild flowers on tables and yes, the temperamental British weather: blazzing sun in one moment, and rain hammering down the next moment :)
This was a really nice domestic affair. Philippa's mother dusted off her collection of tea pots and cups and saucers. Philippa's aunt is registrar with the Brighton and Hove City Council and was all too happy to perform the ceremony for them. Anb even the wedding cake was homemade by Nadia.
As much as I love to photograph grand, glamorous weddings in well regarded venues, these smaller, less rigid gatherings allow for a more intimate kind of documentary photography. I can concentrate on moments rather the usual classic landmarks (getting ready, ceremony, reception, speeches, etc.) one normally finds in larger wedding celebrations.
I have been lucky enough to photograph several couples, gay and straight, British and international. If there's one thing this variety of people have taught me is that love is pretty much an intimate, personal thing that defies social profiling or labelling. It's so different and varied that becomes universal.
If you are getting married (in a same sex or gay wedding or otherwise) and you are the kind of person who appreciates relaxed, documentary photography rather than the awkward, staged posing photographers traditionally put couples through, you might want to get in touch.