Pride and balloons. Those are the only two things I had in mind late one night in May when I shined a beacon into the LGBTQ+ and wedding vendor communities in the hopes of putting together a last-minute shoot. In less than two weeks, we pulled off a powerful, beautiful, unique shoot, featuring some major talent.
Professionally, I've been so excited by the idea of celebrating with LGBTQ+ couples as their videographer, and lately I've been thinking about how much representation matters. Because I haven't filmed a same sex wedding up to this point, those clients can't see themselves in my work. I had a couple reach out to me, leading with "Do you film gay weddings?"
"Of course I do!" I wanted to shout excitedly, simultaneously feeling sad that they may have been turned away elsewhere and had to be sure they would be accepted. This project, in part, was my answer to this problem, for both me and the other participating vendors who expressed similar sentiments.
This project was more than just a marketing opportunity though. It gave a voice to members of the LGBTQ+ community. "It's so powerful and so important," Skyler, our lead photographer said about The Pride Project. "I'm so proud of what we've created."
Something model Kate Wise said particularly resonated with me: "I think so many people in the LGBTQ+ community are either taught, told, or just assume that you should be shameful of who you are. And to be able to say, 'I'm proud of who I am,' to really acknowledge and celebrate that feeling is so special. It takes a lot of work to get there."
Models Erin Hodge and Kris Murnane both touched on Pride being not only a celebration of this community in 2019, but also a celebration and remembrance of how we got here.
"It's a celebration of the people who have given so much for this community," Erin told me. "Who we've lost to HIV and AIDS, who have fought for transgender rights, and who have thrown bricks and smashed windows and paved the way."
"Pride isn't entirely about me," Kris said without missing a beat. "It's about all the people who came before me. It's about Marsha P Johnson, it's about Harvey Milk, it's about even guys like Freddie Mercury. It's about people who came before me and they were out and they were proud, and their struggles made it - I don't want to say easier for me - but they paved the way for me and [others in the LGBTQ+ community]."
"To me, Pride is representation and validation. Seeing proud trans people was a huge [reason I was] able to figure out that that's how I identified, and that it was a thing that I could even be," model Cerea Steficek told me. He went on to say he hopes being a proud trans person himself can be that representation for someone else.
"Pride means coming together as a community and realizing we all have differences, but we all have the same amount of love to celebrate," model Grant Raska added.
Styled shoots, above all else in my opinion, should just be FUN for all involved! I'm confident we succeeded in that. The vibrant colors alone are enough to make you happy. Pair them with these incredible, open, warm souls that modeled for us and it was a dream come true. Not to mention the vendors that stepped up at the last minute to provide us with the most perfect details. Calling this group a dream team is an understatement.
The Pride Project is something all of us will be posting about through Pride Month this June, so check out our social media accounts for more quotes, behind-the-scenes, and media! (Instagram accounts are linked below!)
I honestly had no idea what this video was going to be, even after I shot my footage. (Maybe I should have planned more, but I was too busy coordinating two dozen people to get this thing off the ground!) I love what it turned into, which you can see below, and am excited about the possibility of revisiting The Pride Project for Junes to come...
A huge, giant, enormous THANK YOU to the many people who helped this project come to life. With a last-minute effort on all fronts, we managed to create not just a photo shoot but a meaningful experience.
Videographer & Coordination: Abidoodle Productions Videography
Lead Photographer & Styling: Clear Sky Images
Photographers: Ashton Kelley Photography, Allie Dearie Photography, Jennifer Green Photography
Makeup: Zero Beauty
Balloon Installation: Jess Albins Events
Calligraphy & Invitations: Dear Darling Design Studio
Desserts: All In The Mix Bakeshop
Rentals: Pretty Little Wedding Co.
Planning Consultant: Jessica J Events
Models: Kate Wise, Toni Martinez, Jill Mills, Gabi Tahsuda, Grant Raska, Cerea Steficek, Erin Hodge, Yasmine Allam, Kris Murnane