The ultimate goal: establishing full inclusivity for all couples.
And so, whether you have zero, little, or some knowledge of working with the LGBTQ+ community, you’re in the right place for whatever stage you’re at. I’ll share with you some of my most important tips and the knowledge that I’ve learned along the way — much of which stems from my own personal experiences of being a part of, and working with, the LGBTQ+ community.
CLIENT INTERACTION + GENDER ROLES
LGBTQ+ couples defy gender roles.
And so, it is often that traditional male/female-bride/groom poses do not work for the LGBTQ+ community.
Until recently, the wedding industry has followed gender roles based on a traditional male/female couple, with poses based on the expected social dynamics of a heterosexual couple. When working with LGBTQ+ couples, please remember that you cannot assume gender roles, or what you think their love should look like — even if one member has a more feminine expression and the other masculine. By allowing couples to determine their own roles, you’ll be able to create the most genuine and beautiful images that capture their love flawlessly.
DIRECTING VS POSING
IMPORTANT: Establish trust.
Trust will enable you to create a space of love and comfortability. This can be achieved in many ways, including story sharing and relationship building, illustrating understanding and compassion, and through the use of inclusive copy and content (don’t worry, that blog post is up next in this series).
#1 Tip: When posing, use open-ended instruction.
If you’d like the couple to be in a specific position, instead of using names, say, “I’d like one of you to be here, and other here, and this is what I want you to do”. Through the action, they will assign themselves their own placement based on what feels right for their relationship. Unless the pose is completely free of gender roles, I always allow the couple to make the decision because they know their love better than anyone else.
#2 Tip: When directing and providing prompts, encourage interaction.
My most commonly used phrase when photographing a couple is, “Snuggle up, and…(insert action here).” Whether sitting, standing in a field, or nestled into a city corner, a couple always knows how to snuggle, and with your prompts, it will be different every time. Other favorite gender-free poses ideas include walking, facing one another, and dancing; again, allow the prompts to create variation. Less posing; more interaction.
TIP: To provide an equal experience for both partners, give a direction or prompt in which the couple places themselves and completes the action, and then have them switch and repeat.
Be understanding that not all couples are comfortable with public displays of affection, as they may not be accustomed to being chummy in public. If this happens, try moving to a (semi-)remote location so that they can feel comfortable loving openly, without being watched.
In all, love is largely expressed in the same manner for everyone.
Kissing, hugging, snuggling, playing, teasing, flirting; these are universal actions of adoration. Make your goal to focus on and highlight love, and you won’t have anything to worry about.
Most importantly, at the end of the day, spend time with your couples. Get to know them, and learn how they interact. Let them know you care deeply and are invested in preserving their memories, then provide a safe and comfortable space in which they can express their love. When they know your heart is in the right place, they’ll be most at ease, allowing you to create those gorgeous, honest images, while they receive an incredible experience.