A queer wedding is certainly queer to many in the wedding industry. Those venues, vendors, hotels, photographers (list is endless) that still haven’t evolved or accepted that there is more to love than boy meets girl. It really pisses me off so I have no idea how those in the LGBTQIA+ and BAME communities must feel.
I wanted to create something wonderful to celebrate love being love, and something that would challenge those dinosaurs. Here’s a few (loads of) words on what happened.
Back in October 2021 I visited the incredible Netherbyres House. I had seen the unique venue on instagram and offered the owners Sarah and Mike, some new photos of their venue. Simply for the cost of a couple of coffees!
We chatted a lot, it was great fun. We soon decided that we could do a styled shoot. It would give us both some much needed exposure and we could all get our creative heads on and engineer something special.
A month prior to my visit I’d met with Jonas Peterson for dinner. Yes I just dropped a huge name! Jonas told me something so important that night in Edinburgh. “If you’re going to do a styled shoot, do a fucking styled shoot”. I totally got what he was saying. There are so many blogs and posts showing boho weddings. Each time the same shots. Add a different couple, maybe more or less pampas grass, but you get the picture?
At Netherbyres we chatted lots (all day, I didn’t want to leave). We raised a few issues within the industry that we weren’t happy with and “It was fate” was borne. We would use the styled shoot to challenge the “Boy meets girl” bias seen everywhere. Hotels, photographers, stylist companies, blogs, most niches within the wedding industry discriminate and don’t seem bothered about it! Why would they? They get the same types of bookings week after week, year after year. They’re all busy, so it seems like they think they’re not doing anything wrong?
As businesses we all have to keep evolving, and so many have over the years, but nowhere near enough. That is no doubt a reflection of society, the society that voted in Boris Johnson (take that as you wish). We have to use our privileges where we can to get educated, to educate and to hold those accountable who don’t.
As part of the shoot we chose models that the right people would embrace, and that would make the right people uncomfortable. It’s always ok to piss off the right kind of people! I asked our two models Maungo and Dominic to choose some books that have helped them on the journey to who they are today. This would help tackle some issues and tell their story in this kind of ironic, but absolutely stunning wedding shoot. We used them in the confetti bathroom shots.
We wanted the shoot to fly, to be seen by as many people as possible. The message is huge, we are all self-employed, one or two people business and we would do all we can with our privileges to challenge, where so many ignore.
Twenty likeminded suppliers got together in January and we executed the shoot we all wanted. It was fucking beautiful. The images are some of the best i’ve taken. The models, the best i’ve worked with, and even on the day they took out time to chat and to educate. These two are such great people who I appreciate and talk about like i’m a proud father!
So, after the shoot comes the editing and then the sharing. Remember we wanted (and still do) this shoot to be seen by as many people as possible. The message is huge.
You know as an artist there is a huge (often daily) battle with self-doubt, limiting beliefs and imposter syndrome. Even when I showcased this shoot to people (some top, top photographers) their “wows” and “beautiful” comments were soon diluted with my own thoughts of “are they just saying that? The usual shite that can happen. I knew the messaging was bang on, the photos were brilliant but still, we all need extra anxiety right?
All twenty vendors shared this across their platforms (links below) and the response was mind blowing in many ways. Some posts went down a treat, some not so. Was it the photos? the models? the styling? the challenge to make the right people uncomfortable itself? Social media being a reflection of society? You can decide.
So what now? We never thought we would solve a huge problem with this shoot, but we definitely stopped the scroll a few times and made people think. On some leading industry IG accounts this shoot hasn’t performed as well as other shoots on those channels. Again, I ask the questions above!
Interesting isn’t it? The audiences out there maybe don’t want to celebrate the shoot for their own reasons, or maybe it is just too awkward for some? I’ll tell you this though, the shoot and the concept are fucking brilliant and I am proud to have engineered and executed it so well.
In quiet times I’ll keep creating and keep using my privileges to challenge others.
Here is a list of others involved in the shoot other suppliers involved in the shoot on my IG. Go check them out.
You can view a full gallery of the shoot here