Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Okay, I asked Joel for his opinion on this, and- while I can see his point- I can't decide what to do.

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging much is because I've been designing a DVD of my wedding work for prospective clients. I have two sections on the DVD, one that includes six full-length slideshows of my six most recent events and one that shows a one-page collage of my favorite photos from each of the my other weddings. I'm most proud of my six most recent events. I used the highest quality gear, and it's most reflective of the current work I'm doing and what clients could expect if they hire me.

Here's the issue: two of my most recent six events featured on the DVD are same-sex weddings. Joel is advocating pulling the same-sex slide shows off the DVD, and/or making two versions, one with gay weddings, one without.

Here's my side:

I shoot weddings by referral only.
The people who refer clients to me are friends or friends of friends.
I want to carve more of a niche for myself as a photographer for same-sex weddings anyway.
This isn't how I make my living. I can afford to be choosy.
If someone is offended by photos of two men or two women getting married, tough.
The photos are lovely, and in some small way, I think people may be moved and/or think differently about the subject if they see the family-oriented, positive loveliness.

Yeah, the couples who hire me may be okay with same-sex marriage, but what if they want to show the sample DVD to their parents, who aren't okay with it. "It's not a good business decision," says Joel.

Granted, it's not THAT hard to make two different versions. On the other hand, I am proud of this work. I am proud to DO this work. I want to be the change I wish to see in the world, and that means same-sex marriages go into the DVD album right next to the hetero ones. Viewers can always opt NOT to view the slideshows with two women's or men's names.

I am putting this question out there for respectful debate. Any Godbag blowhardery and I will swoop down upon you wherever you are (apparating Harry Potter style) and beat you with my radical militant feminist stick. Diverse views and opposing viewpoints welcomed, but please play nicely or I am taking your toys and sending you home. In particular for recently married and engaged people, would seeing same-sex weddings on a sample DVD/website/etc have caused you NOT to hire a vendor? If you have conservative parents, particularly if they helped pay for the wedding, would this have been a deal-breaker?


Luke said...

Today I worked on a photo shoot for a TV show where the father was an average joe, the mother an astronaut, the son had a transplanted brain, and the adopted daughter was a bright green alien with antennae coming out of her head. They all seemed to get along happily despite the villain who kept trying to steal the young boy's brain.

If an adopted bright green alien can find love and acceptance in a modern nuclear family in the USA then I would hope our society was accepting enough to embrace the documentation of same-sex marriage.

That said, Joel's right, it probably is a bad business decision. If the prime motivation for gouging rich people is to make extra money, then leave the same-sex portfolio out. If the prime motivation is documentary and you're trying to get more of that kind of work, leave it in. Better yet make both and send the appropriate portfolio depending on the client.

VF said...

I like the idea of doing two DVDs -- one for straight couples, one for gay couples. The goal is to show that you are the right photographer for them; and people, no matter how comfortable they are with gay marriage, want to see the photos of people like them that you have taken.

Also, you will DEFINITELY reach a lot more of the gay folk if you have a gays-only DVD: (1) the gays love to be made to feel special (trust me) and (2) being sick and tired of having to conform to straight stereotypes (i.e., which one of you is the man and which is the woman?) means that we don't want to have to ooh and ah over your straight wedding work (as beautiful as it is).

I wouldn't worry about offending anyone, I would just try to adapt your marketing materials to reach the most people.

Lauren said...

I would keep the same-sex weddings on your DVD. You're proud of these couples, and you're proud of your work. In my opinion, any client you lose due to these images is not a client you want to have in the first place.

kelly said...

One DVD. Like you said, you can afford to be choosy b/c this isn't what you do 40-50 hours of the work week. And you know what, gay rights are human rights and some folks just need to get over themselves. I vote for not compromising your principles!

VF said...

Okay, I've changed my mind. You should do two DVDs. One with both straight and gay weddings and another with just gay weddings. You'll score HUGE points from potential gay clients for the exclusively gay DVD, and you'll have the chance to make some morally righteous missionary-only a-holes very uncomfortable PLUS you'll score points with your potential straight clients who are pro-gay.

cindy w said...

Just to be difficult, I'd say make 3 DVD's: one all-gay, one mixed, and one all-straight.

I say that mostly because I agree with what VF said: people want to see photos of people like them that you've taken. That was a consideration of mine. I was always looking for brides who were about the same body size/shape as me, judging if I thought the photos were flattering or not. Believe me, some photographers do not know how to make any woman above a size 8 look good in a picture.

My own wedding photographer actually did have photos in her portfolio of a gay wedding that she shot in Tuscany (jealous!), but I admit that other than admiring the scenery and the "artsy-ness" of the photos, I kind of skipped through them. Who cares about the 2 handsome guys? Show me a woman who's a size 12, wearing a white dress and NOT looking like she could sink the Titanic. That's all I really cared about.

Bottom line: go with your gut. If one mixed DVD feels right to you, that's what you should do. Like you said, this isn't your career, it's just something you do on the side, so whether it's a good business decision or not really shouldn't be too big an issue.

Anonymous said...

I will say I have to agree with Joel. Two dvds would not hurt anyone and it also allows for you to put in more of your work and have two options to show people. People of this generation are not as easily offended as people of our parent's generation concerning homosexuality. It may not be a career decision now, or something you live by. But who knows what the future holds and it could be. You do not want to sink it in the beginning because you offend someone's opinions. One of the dvds is still going to reflect the mixture you wanted. It does not nessicarily have to be all homosexual couples. But one should be hetero for those 'just in case' moments.

gwen said...

I'm with the two DVD camps -- one mixed and one gay. I think Joel has a point, but I also think that these wedding shoots are insane enough... if you found homophobic parents who would be so turned off by the gay couples in the DVD that they'd force their kids not to choose you, what would it be like to have to work closely with them for the rest of the job? Would they be that controlling about other aspects of the wedding? Would they be a gigantic pain that you wouldn't want to deal with anyway? Not necessarily, but I think it's safe to say the probability might rise a little. And you've already had your share of nuts in these endeavors.

On the flip side of that, as a straight person, I would be MORE likely to go with a wedding photographer who had gay couples in her portfolio. I would assume she was a like-minded soul and therefore, as Cindy touched on, be easier to work with other stuff that might come up.

And on another side, I think it's an excellent business decision to have an all-gay one... that seems like an excellent potential niche market, and one that fits you better than the homophobic-parent niche.

shannon said...

Ha. Gwen beat me to the punch, but I second everything she says, for all the reasons she used.

Julia said...

I agree with where this whole chain of conversation is going and I can also see why you're torn. Even when we're putting books together to show potential clients, we're like do we show footwear and/or apparel programs to footwear and/or apparel clients (clearly a less emotional example!). When it comes down to it my current opinion for our books is: focus/skew the portfolio towards your intended audience's interest, but also show you have some breadth beyond just their immeidate interests, as you do get your best work by referral, as do we, and so you may want them to know your skills extend beyond their current needs in case they have a friend, collegue, etc. who has different needs and yet could benefit from a kickass, fabulous, wedding photo chick in the future... ;)