How To Find a Queer Wedding Photographer

feature image photo by shironosov via Getty Images

My fiancée Kristen proposed to me last Christmas morning. It felt like we had all the time in the world to plan a wedding, something we both knew we wanted to have. We took some time to celebrate and luxuriate in the engagement before jumping into wedding planning, but once we were settled back at home after the holidays, it was time to dive in. We knew it’d be a lot of work, so we’d chosen a date that was more than a year away and did our best to spread out all of the big tasks as much as possible.

We locked in our caterer and venue a full year before our chosen wedding date. I got my dress figured out much faster than I imagined, about nine months out. And about eight months out, we traveled to New York for Kristen to get fitted for a custom suit.

We pressed pause on a lot of the other big ticket items of planning a wedding for a few months when we both got busy with work and travel and work-related travel. About six months out from our wedding, we started back up again, knowing we still had some Very Big Decisions to make (and Very Big Checks to sign).

Most urgently, we needed to find a wedding photographer. There’s certainly no scarcity of wedding photographers in the world, especially in Central Florida where we live and where apparently a lot of people like to get married (has something to do with The Mouse). But we both knew we wanted someone specific to shoot our Big Gay Florida Wedding: We wanted a queer wedding photographer.


Why should you seek out a queer wedding photographer?

Cropped shot of an affectionate young lesbian couple  standing with their arms around each other in a meadow on their wedding day

PeopleImages via Getty Images

Your photographer is one of your most important wedding vendors — if you’re choosing to have one! It’s of course a totally valid choice to take an alternative and more affordable path, like having guests use disposable cameras. It’s all just about what you want!

If you’re undecided about hiring a professional photographer though, I’ve talked to so many friends and family members who emphasize that the photos are their favorite thing to still have from their weddings. They’re literal memories, preserved forever. There are a lot of places to cut costs when it comes to weddings, but for me, I didn’t want photography to be one of those places.

A photographer isn’t just an important wedding role; it’s an intimate one. A good wedding photographer is going to tell you when you’re having a wardrobe malfunction, maybe even ask to fix it for you. If you’re doing “getting ready” photos, they might see you in various stages of getting undressed/dressed. If you’re doing a “first look” shoot, they’re going to be present during the extremely intimate moment of your partner seeing you/you seeing your partner in wedding wear for the first time. They’re going to interact with all your besties, your family, and be there for every single part of the big day. Good wedding photographers are going to want to get to know you very well — from the very first consultation call. They’ll ask about your priorities, your vision, and even your love story.

Having a queer wedding photographer comes with a sense of comfort and familiarity that doesn’t have to be taught or negotiated. At the beginning of our process in finding a queer wedding photographer, I had some difficulty finding a queer person who fit our other needs (I needed the guide I’m currently writing!), so I cast a wider net, just looking for people who’d presented some level of LGBTQ+ support, like having pictures of queer couples on their socials.

For example, I found a photographer who didn’t identify as queer but who linked to a worksheet about using more inclusive language for weddings. I liked that she was thinking about these things, because it’s exactly why I was prioritizing trying to find a queer photographer. We aren’t using words like “bridesmaids” or “groomsmen” for our wedding parties; we’re calling them our VIPs. To every potential photographer I spoke with, I emphasized that the wedding is queer not only in the sense that a queer couple is getting married but also in the sense that many of our guests are queer and/or trans. We don’t want a photographer to make assumptions about gender or pronouns. Kristen and I also have very different family situations: I’ll have a lot of family there, and she won’t. But Kristen still wants to do some of the traditional posed family photos after the ceremony with her chosen family. Of course, any photographer will honor a request like that, but it means something to us that a photographer really understands that situation.

When we spoke with photographers who openly identified as queer on their socials and websites, we didn’t have to ask as many of the questions we had about things like that, because they already got it. It was already baked into their business models. LGBTQ photographers asked us for our pronouns when we filled out the initial forms requesting consultation calls. On those calls, they reiterated that they ask for pronouns for our wedding parties and for anyone who we want to include in our shot lists. And they totally understood our emphasis on chosen family at our wedding. With these photographers, there was a shorthand and an extra layer of comfort. It wasn’t just LGBTQ-friendliness; it was LGBTQ-understanding and relatability.

Of course, there’s always a possibility that even after using this guide and searching far and wide, you might not be able to find an LGBTQ wedding photographer who’s available for your date, has a style you’re drawn to, and is within your price range. Being queer isn’t the only criteria you’re looking for, and it can be hard to make everything line up. We talked to one queer photographer we loved, but she was too far above our budget. I also specifically looked in potential photographers feeds to see if they regularly shoot weddings featuring one or more people of color, as that was important to me.

If you do end up talking to photographers who don’t identify as queer, here are some of the questions we asked in those situations you might consider just to make sure your values and priorities are aligned:

  • Have you shot queer weddings before? How often and what is your comfortability with doing so? (You can also totally request to see photos/galleries they might have from queer weddings!)
  • Are you open to using more inclusive terms to describe wedding parties and other wedding customs?
  • Is there anything you’d like to know from us in terms of what we consider to be LGBTQ friendly?

That last one acts as a catch all and opportunity for you to talk about what it is you want and expect from a photographer when it comes to interacting with you and your wedding guests. It presents an opportunity to talk about things like pronouns. But wording it in this way also throws the ball in their court. It’s a question that invites questions. It gives you a chance to gauge if they’re interested in learning from and listening to you.


How to go about finding a queer wedding photographer

two lesbian brides kissing in a sunlit field

Kosamtu via Getty Images

Take your time.

Give yourself the gift of time. If you’re able to, start looking for a photographer early in your wedding planning process so you can be pickier. Making yourself available to multiple consultation calls will ensure you get to talk to as many people as possible. Who knows — maybe you’ll get lucky and find a perfect queer fit on the first call, but that would be extremely lucky! Assume you’re going to have to talk to multiple people.

Use the gay phone tree.

As with a lot of queer things, word of mouth is everything! If you have queer friends — or even friends of friends! — who have gone through the wedding planning process and know they had a queer photographer, reach out to them and get more information. Even if those friends live somewhere else, a lot of wedding photographers will travel for an additional fee.

If you already have other vendors planned out and they’re queer, ask them if they have queer photographers in mind. A lot of vendors have a roster of people they like to work with and support.

On that note, if you find a queer photographer, reach out, and they’re not available for your date, ask them if they have recommendations for other queer photographers. A lot of photographers will automatically recommend other folks if they’re not available on your date, but you can specifically ask for queer or queer-friendly options.

Be clear about your priorities from the start.

When filling out the initial form to request a consultation call with any photographer, it’s good to emphasize you’re having a queer wedding and are seeking vendors who are enthusiastically LGBTQ-friendly. On all of my request forms, I wrote BIG GAY FLORIDA WEDDING. It’s good to do this, because if you’re reaching out to someone whose identity is unclear (not all queer photographers highlight their sexuality in their business branding), they might take this as an opportunity to “come out” to you.

But I also found this a successful approach when reaching out to non-queer photographers who turned out to be unavailable for our date. The first alternative suggestions they sent back were out n proud queer wedding photographers, because even though they weren’t available to provide direct services for me, they still understood my priorities as a client. Great wedding photographers are super thoughtful like that.

Follow Queer Wedding content accounts on social media.

Confession: Way before I was even engaged, I followed the Instagram accounts @dancingwithher and @dancingwiththem, because seeing queer wedding content legitimately fills me with joy…and because maybe I have secretly dreamed of having a big wedding one day. Another Instagram account to follow is @handhweddings.

These accounts are great to reference during the photographer search, because you can check out photographers who are tagged in specific posts. You can also just treat the posts on these feeds as a mood board for the style of photos you want. It’s going to be a much more inclusive reference point than using Pinterest.

Our engagement photoshoot was done by a friend, and I found it helpful to reference potential poses on these feeds. (Btw, skipping an engagement photoshoot or doing more of a DIY one is one way to cut costs. A lot of wedding photographers will let you swap out the engagement shoot in their set packages for something like a second shooter or print credit or just take some money off the total cost. The biggest drawback here is that engagement shoots give you a chance to meet and get comfy with your photographer ahead of time.)

Scrolling through @dancingwithher, @dancingwiththem, or other similar accounts, it’s not super easy to filter or screen for location. A lot of posts will be geotagged, so you can manually scroll until you find a nearby place. It isn’t the most efficient process, but if you live in a major city, you might get lucky. You can also ignore location and just try to find and follow queer photographers whose style speaks to you. As mentioned before, wedding photographers will often travel, but you’ll be charged a travel fee in most instances, so this is not a budget-friendly approach.

You can also try to find queer wedding photographers on TikTok, though I admittedly had better luck on Instagram. Using TikTok to search for “gay wedding [YOUR CITY]” or something similar can definitely lead to content that can then lead to potential vendors. Getting more specific with a search like “gay wedding photographer [YOUR CITY]” also works. You might have to go down a bit of a research rabbit hole, but again, it’s worth taking the extra time to search.

(I find social media to be more navigable in this department than just Googling “queer wedding photographer [YOUR CITY].” But you can give that a whirl and see if it’s more effective for where you live. Some cities have LGBTQ business bureaus that highlight these vendors.)

Once you follow one queer wedding photographer, it becomes easier to find more.

Use databases that already exist.

The Dancing With Her website has a searchable database of inclusive wedding vendors. I will say…the database greatly preferences major cities like NYC, LA, Chicago, etc. There were no photographer options for Orlando or even for Florida last time I checked.

I expanded my radius to include nearby states and found a photographer in Texas who I liked enough to schedule a consultation call with. It’s important to remember your values and priorities when looking for a wedding photographer but also to be flexible. Kristen and I wanted a Florida-based photographer for a couple reasons: money and also because Florida means so much to Kristen. We were very intentional about planning to have our wedding here, in her hometown, in a place that means so much to her and is coming to mean so much to me. We want vendors who reflect that. So I never thought I’d talk to someone in Texas, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized a queer person living and working in the wedding industry in Texas is going to understand the complexities and nuances of having a queer wedding in Florida. And this person would probably understand us and our wedding values more than a straight ally based in Florida. It didn’t work out for other reasons, but I’m glad we set up that consultation call, because it forced us to reexamine our priorities.

Mainstream wedding hub The Knot also allows you to search for wedding photographers in your area and filter for LGBTQ-owned businesses. On their photographer search page (which will automatically have your location if you’ve registered for The Knot, but you can also manually enter it), go to the filter category called “Supports Diversity” (lol) and check the box for “LGBTQ+-owned businesses.” They also have other specific identity markers you can search for, like Black-owned businesses, Asian-owned businesses, Pacific Islander-owned businesses, etc. The Knot will show you average price ranges for each vendor, and you can easily send a quote request or request for a consultation call all within The Knot. Going back to the previous social media section, even if the results that come up on The Knot’s directory aren’t a fit, you can always look to see who they follow or are followed by on Instagram.

I was not able to find a way to search specifically for queer wedding photographers on Zola, one of the other popular wedding planning websites.


You may now be wondering: Well, did you find a queer, Florida-based wedding photographer, Kayla? Yes! Yes we did. I’m writing this from a place of personal success!

It took a few weeks (relatively short!) and a lot of internet/social media sleuthing. I probably filled out close to 10 consultation call request forms, and Kristen and I did four consultation calls (relatively few!). Two calls were with queer photographers, and two were with straight photographers. Side note: It’s nice to let any photographers who you decide not to go with know you’ve gone in another direction. I thought we’d have to do more calls, but we got lucky with our fourth, which was with a queer, Florida-based wedding photographer who we instantly vibed with. For our privacy, I won’t disclose additional details beyond that for now, but making it official with our queer wedding photographer (we just signed the paperwork last week!) felt like one of the biggest wins of this wedding planning process so far. 🥂

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 843 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. For those in the NYC area, we used Liesl Hendrickson (https://www.liesl.nyc/) and loved her! Great photos, made us feel super comfortable, told us how she once dated a clown – what more could you want!

    The amount of vendors who advertised as LGBTQ friendly but then would send us a contract for a bride and groom or otherwise use heteronormative languages/assumptions was such a slog. If you’re going to solicit our money, you should be more than just not actively homophobic… our queer vendors were great and made me feel so much more comfortable, highly recommend having as many as possible!

  2. Randomly came here looking for queer readings and speeches and seen oooo an article about wedding photography *click*. Lots of awesome advice and well put together! My wife and I shoot weddings in Ireland, the UK, and Europe and we hear from our couples ALL the time how hard it is to find inclusive wedding vendors of any discipline. It’s tough and requires a lot of research but knowing you have people who will work with you and celebrate you on the most special of days is sooo worth it!

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