I’m not just a photographer. I consume photography, too. And as a gay man, I have felt the sting and uncertainty when visiting photographer’s websites, not seeing any people like me represented, and wondered if that means I’m safe to inquire. Will they turn me down? Will they just blow me off? Here’s my belief:
LGBTQ2SIA+ people should not have to come out of the closet every single time they do something as simple as inquire on a photographer’s website.
So, I’m doing something about that because I have the privilege and know-how to effect some change. After doing some research, I found two separate but overlapping problems. The first is that queer people like myself are largely disappointed in the lack of representation we see in the portfolios of photographers, but we want to be consumers. We want to hire photographers just like straight people do. The second thing I found is that there seems a huge population of photographers who say, “I would LOVE to shoot more LGBTQ+ people/weddings/couples, etc. I just don’t any inquiries from them!”
How is possible that these two truths can exist at the same time? The reason is that LGBTQ+ folks are cautious because we have to be. In my own wedding planning alone, I was personally turned down by more than 5 photographers because they did not want to shoot a gay couple. After that experience, I’m never contacting another photographer who doesn’t have obvious representation of LGBTQ+ couples on their websites. And can you blame me?
To help my photographer friends fix this problem of accessibility and representation, I’ve started offering shootouts with queer couples for the purpose of portfolio building. For this shootout, I just had interested photographers sign up to come and shoot! I found us an adddddoorrrrable couple to shoot, guided the shoot, and I let everyone jump in and work with them one at a time. Consider this my kindest kick in the butt, from me to you. Go diversify your portfolio so that you can signal to marginalized peoples that they are valuable and worthy of beautiful photos.
Our first shootout was this evening with Liliana and Kris in Downtown Atlanta. I was so happy with how it went, even though it rained most of the entire time. We all made the best of it, especially our amazing model couple. I don’t know about you, but to me rain in photos adds such a great element of romance and spontaneity. HUGE thanks to all of the attendees and to Liliana and Kris. You’re all just the greatest.
If you’d like to keep up with future shootout plans, make sure to sign up for my newsletter! Just by signing up, you’ll also receive a TOTALLY FREE guide on how to write a model call for LGBTQ2SIA+ clients, written by yours truly. It’s a great free resource, and it’s worth signing up for the newsletter just for that.
Here are some of my favorites from tonight.