Having a camera can get you into pretty cool places but nothing compares to the kind of access a wedding dress gets you. Jamie and RC had a permit to get photographed on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan. Originally, we wanted to take some portraits in the conservatory but it was one of the busiest days on Belle Isle. That day was the first sunny day as Michigan emerged from a cold winter. The staff working at the Belle Isle Conservatory saw Jamie and decided to let us into the lower section of the Fern room. This part of the conservatory is typically off-limits to the general public.
I get to photograph people on such a special day but in Megan and Andrea’s case, I had gotten to know the two of them throughout their relationship. I met them when they had just started dating. Then, as if no timed had passed, I was photographing them on their wedding day.
This wedding was full of personality and character. Megan and Andrea incorporated their family members and their personal traditions into their wedding. All of these things made for such a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. To top it all off instead of dinner, their wedding had brunch! YUP, this was a bunch wedding. gah! So cool.
“I want to take a moment to acknowledge how we all got here today. Many of you know that I was previously married to a man; it’s been my experience that nothing tests a man’s character quite like his wife telling him, “listen, I’m gay and we’re getting divorced”. What I saw after that conversation was that he was kind when he could have been cruel and supportive when he could have been destructive; he showed me what it looks like to value your partner’s happiness even when it comes at the expense of your own. Some of us have probably learned these things from observation, but I had to learn them from experience, and what I am bringing to my marriage to Andrea is what I learned about love, commitment and support not only from my first marriage, but from its dissolution.
We would have celebrated an anniversary just a few weeks ago. I still celebrate that day for the optimism and hope I brought to my first marriage. Of course, some of that hope was that I wasn’t really gay, and here we are. Being openly gay is a privilege that many around the world will never experience. Andrea and I are fortunate to be celebrating with so many LGBTQ-identified individuals. And we collectively are fortunate that despite unequal rights, overt oppression, very real physical danger, lack of representation in everything except voting rights for the TONY awards, family opposition, and a heightened awareness of the risks and benefits of simply existing, we’re all still here.
We’re here because other people came before us: our ancestors who contributed the genes that made us so stubborn and so good looking, our families and friends who support us but still challenge us to grow, and our civil rights ancestors: the labor organizers, feminists, desegregationists, revolutionaries, and violent and nonviolent protestors whose work has brought us here today. None of their accomplishments are perfect, and none of their work is done, but it’s a start. We also owe a debt of continued remembrance to LGBTQ individuals who have suffered and died, and to those who have suffered, but lived.
And everyone here who is not an identifying member of the LGBTQ community is an ally. This means that you support us. You support our right to get married; our right to not lose custody of our children because of our gender identity or sexual orientation; our right to a life free from physical and sexual violence; our right to be addressed by our chosen names and pronouns; our right to not hide our identities to keep our jobs, find housing, belong to a religious congregation, or simply walk down the street; our right to access healthcare appropriate to our unique needs, and to document and celebrate our own history. If you didn’t know what you were endorsing when you came here today and you’re just here because you like brunch, don’t worry. We like brunch too (we might have invented it), and someone will be dismissing tables very soon.”
This is another series with my mamiya 645 on Kodak Ektar 100 film.
“Most animals look at each other to signal threat or interest. In humans, this social interaction is usually punctuated with brief periods of mutual eye contact. Deviations from this pattern of gazing behaviour generally make us feel uncomfortable and are a defining characteristic of clinical conditions such as autism or schizophrenia, yet it is unclear what constitutes normal eye contact (Binetti, 2016).”
When we look through a portrait series like this, we allow ourselves to look into a person’s eyes and layers of personality slowly start revealing themselves. Isn’t that cool? Gah! I can’t get over this pilot project. I will be doing a lot more of these around the state. Keep an eye on this blog for more versions.
Binetti, N., Harrison, C., Coutrot, A., Johnston, A., & Mareschal, I. (2016). Pupil dilation as an index of preferred mutual gaze duration Royal Society Open Science, 3 (7) DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160086
In June, Angela Southern and I launched a monthly collaboration project. We start the month by giving each other a prompt, then, I spend the first 15 days working on a photo and Angela takes the second half of the month to letter. Here is the second photo in our series and I am in love with it. We decided to work with a one world prompt: work. Instead of the obvious imagery that is associated with work, I wanted to explore how beauty and toughness can communicate the same thing. I think this W.H. Auden quote goes along with the image perfectly.
I can’t believe how well Angela worked with the busy background and was able to give both the subject and the quote equal attention. I am feeling pretty thankful for being surrounded by such creative minds.
Lastly, a huge thanks to Mallory Goldman for dusting off her ballet shoes.