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The Best LGBT Photographers Documenting Our Community

Photography plays an important part in documenting the experiences of queer people. LGBT photographers have documented everything from the biggest touchpoints of the queer rights movement all the way through the tiniest most intimate details of our journey to create families of choice. Media representation of our community hasn’t always been as accessible as it is now – keep in mind that it wasn’t until the 90s that we even saw LGBT characters on TV. The LGBT photographers on our list today have given our community the gift of access to millions of queer people from every walk of life. These photographers have allowed us to see ourselves reflected in the media we consume. There’s immense power in seeing yourself reflected- not only does it allow us to see the diversity and nuance in our people, but it also gives us models of hope for our future.

Grace Chu

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Grace Chu is a 2018 Brooklyn Nightlife Awards Winner Best Photographer. Official photographer of Reykjavik Pride 2018 and 2019. House of Yes, Hot Rabbit, Ellis, Whitney Day Events, Babetown, Alexander Wang, and more. Grace loves capturing anything with movement and exuberance. Grace says the best part of her job is capturing happiness, letting go of inhibitions and ferocity, because this world can be a rigid and unhappy place. Getting the shot for the performers in queer nightlife, because they put so much time into their craft and looks that they should be documented and recorded. Traveling abroad for shoots and making new friends. Really, all of it. Grace’s tips for hiring a photographer are “I’m just going to put out the obligatory heads up to anyone wanting an outdoor shoot in NYC, which is one of the most crowded places in the world: the best time for an outdoor shoot is early in the morning right after sunrise. Yes, I know it is early, but if you want excellent lighting you have two choices when it is sunny: right after sunrise, or right before sunset. Everyone wants a shoot at an iconic public place in NYC, such as Central Park or Brooklyn Bridge, but if you go during sunset, groups of tourists will be in them taking the exact same shots. So if you want other people taking selfies in your special photo or photo-bombing, choose sunset. They have every right to use a public place as you do. So if you’re fine with a bunch of strangers potentially making funny faces or scratching their butt in the background, by all means, go at sunset. But if you want it all to yourself, choose sunrise. If you can’t get up early, then choose a place off the beaten path.” Follow Grace Chu: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Jamie Thrower

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Jamie Thrower is the owner and Queer femme photographer at Studio XIII Photography, an LGBTQ photography studio. In addition to being a published photographer, she is an avid traveler, writer and loves combining activism and photography whenever possible. She lives in Portland, OR with her wife, their dog and cat, and chickens named after L-word characters. Yes, really. Jamie loves photographing people. Whether it’s couples or a family or an individual– there’s a humbling power in being able to photograph and capture someone’s essence and energy. I get to bring my most creative self and document what I see— I love tapping into all the feels. Jamie says the best part of her job is “I love telling Queer love stories. I love telling family love stories, romantic love stories, and self-love stories. Being able to capture my community in such a vulnerable and special way is something that feels so incredibly humbling to me. I get to meet so many wonderful people through my job and share in the magic that is being a part of the LGBTQ community. I couldn’t feel more lucky to connect to my community in this way.” Jamie’s tips for hiring a photographer “Find someone whose work you connect with deeply. Don’t think about whether or not it’s trendy, or the photographer has 10 or 10K followers— find someone whose work makes you feel something. Find someone whose lens you want to be seen with.” Upcoming for Jamie is “I’m hoping to continue my Studio XIII Stripped sessions and do more creative portrait sessions for members of the Queer community. I have big dreams of publishing a book someday :)” Follow Jamie Thrower: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook

Matthew Schueller

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Matthew Schueller is a travel photographer from Portland Oregon who focuses on portraiture and LGBTQ+ lifestyle works. Alongside his husband, Michael they travel the world together to find the best of the best in LGBTQ+ hotels, tours, and locations. Matthew went to school for photography in Seattle, worked for a Peruvian nonprofit after graduating, and resettled in the Pacific North West to work in social media and travel in 2018. When they aren’t traveling together, Michael works as a dentist locally and Matthew writes for a men’s wedding publication. Matthew says his favorite photography to shoot is “Portraits and journalistic style travel photography. I love getting into a new environment and exploring it through photograph”. Matthew says “The absolute best part of my job is meeting people around the world that I surprisingly fall in love with. Whenever traveling to a new place, it’s bound that there will be new people there. What’s unexpected, is that over time and through mutual experiences, all of the walls that we put up in everyday life seem to come down and the people we are surrounded with become our best friends. I love that about travel… and in a working environment where we may be under pressure to capture content pertaining to a specific assignment, working together it sometimes feels like I’m inheriting a new family. Travel and photography are incredible and can be super difficult things, but what makes it all worth it, in the end, are the people I meet along the way. It’s the most unexpected, surprising, and outright craziest thing I’m grateful for. I’ve met people along the way that I couldn’t possibly imagine my life without.” And his advice for couples looking to hire a photographer “Make sure you get along well with your photographer! A personal connection between the photographer and their subjects is super important when creating art together, plus having someone alongside that you love hanging with is always amazing when experiencing something together! Another tip is to make sure you like their photographic style! Photographers have a huge variety of styles from super informal candid photos to extremely curated and polished extravagant scenes. Questions to ask yourself are, “What am I looking for in professional photography, what is my personal style I’d like communicated, and what will these photographs be used for.?” You can find that some photographers will allow flexibility when editing photographs and others may have a strict formula. Depending on the purpose, marketing, brand or even personal use of the photographs you’re looking to get, these are all important questions and conversations to have with your photographer prior to hiring.” What Matthew has planned for upcoming projects “The nature of the beast is that this job is completely different from one week to another. A lot of the time I have no idea what’s happening next! Currently, I’m looking forward to a few projects next year that are going to bring Michael and me from Scotland to Italy, to Greece! I’m excited to continue working with the publications I consult and write for, and I’m ecstatic about the potential of developing a long-term project with a tour company abroad!” Follow Matthew Schueller here: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Tess Harrison

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Tess Harrison is just a small town girl chasing her dream of capturing all the beauty that life gives us. Tess shoots boudoir and landscape photography. When asked about the best part of their job, Tess says, “The very best part of this job is getting to restore peoples self-image. When they see the final product, it’s almost if they’re falling in love with themselves all over again. Seeing their faces light up is the best feeling ever.” And Tess’ advice for couples looking to hire a photographer is “No matter what kind of shoot you’re booking, always get a feel for your photographer beforehand. If you’re not fully comfortable with your photographer then the photos will definitely reflect it!” Tess also stated she has planned upcoming projects. “I’m starting a little themed photography series. I also just booked a shoot for the Hooters calendar auditions.” Follow Tess Harrison here: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Kelly Balch

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Kelly Balch is a Queer international wedding and editorial photographer and loves photographing couples of any kinds in any kind of love, lust, or desire. The best part of Kelly’s job is “The connecting of spirits and capturing human experiences and feelings.” Kelly’s advice for hiring a photographer is “First look at my work, look how I edit and capture emotion. If you like it then reach out and meetup. The deciding factor is to see If we vibe and connect. Essentially I want all the people I photograph to be friends”. Kelly has this planned for upcoming projects “My upcoming project that I have is a collaboration with a queer artist who paints raw emotion while she is bare and raw. We will be collaborating on art pieces and my photography and will be showing it in an Los Angeles gallery come spring 2020.” Follow Kelly Balch here: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Steph Grant

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I’m Steph Grant. Owner of Steph Grant Studios (a global, full-service media agency owned and operated by a powerhouse team of LGBTQ+ creatives. Specializing in bringing your business to life through a compelling compilation of rich video production and show-stopping imagery) and Founder of the Promote Love Movement (a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community raised in a religious environment to connect and share their stories). I believe in the importance of being visible and vocal for those in our community who cannot. Sharing our stories can change minds and softens hearts. I have experienced this firsthand through my work as a photographer and during my own coming out process. It’s so rewarding to have complete strangers say that they felt like they had a front row seat at the events that I have shot or that after seeing my images and stories they can no longer support their stance against the LGBTQ+ community. Random Facts: Known for being the first LGBTQ+ Wedding photographer in the industry and for photographing the first lesbian Indian wedding in the US which went viral in 2013 with 81K people on my site in 1 day. Recognized on the Senate floor in CA in 2018 for my work with the LGBTQ+ community. Spoke on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community at a Google event & Rebelution Resurge in NYC…where I was asked to share my story and engage in conversations surrounding inclusion and representation in the wedding industry. Was the face of Fossil’s 2019 Pride Campaign and was asked to share my story for their social media campaign. Featured in “Proud Women: A Collection of Women Who are Proud to Represent the LGBTQ+ Community.” Steph’s favorite kind of photography is portraits and says the best part of their job is “The people. And that it’s always a wild adventure that keeps me on my toes.” Steph’s tips for looking to hire a photographer are “Have a Skype chat with your photographer and see how you vibe. You’ll be with them most on your wedding day… it needs to feel effortless.” Steph’s upcoming projects include “Launching StephGrant.com in 2020. It’s my new brand site with fresh content and the story of my last 10 years in business! It’s important to see the progress. I believe it helps others relate and also helps me take some time to sit back and be proud of my accomplishments.” Follow Steph Grant here: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Tara Beth Robertson

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Tara Robertson is the owner of Tara Beth Photography and an LGBTQIA+ Destination Wedding Photographer. Tara’s favorite kind of photography is all kinds of love! Any love! Love, Love, Love! Tara says the best part of her job is “Being able to celebrate two people in love every weekend! What could be better than that, all the while creating art? It’s incredible.” For upcoming projects, Tara says “I’m diving into my 2020 wedding season! The whole year is a project!” Tara’s advice for those looking to hire a photographer are “Fall in love with them! Make sure that you are excited about them + their work. Make sure that you trust them as well. You shouldn’t feel the need to give them a “shot list” if you trust that your photographer has it covered. Also, it helps if their personality matches yours!” Tara will be diving into the 2020 wedding season! The whole year is a project! Follow Tara Robertson here: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook

Erica Camille

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Erica Camille is an LGBT wedding photographer based in NYC and SE Asia. Erica’s favorite kind of photography is candid moments at weddings and parties and travel. Erica says the best part of the job is “Knowing that people actually care about my photos, they mean something to my clients. And on a personal level – how much freedom it’s given me as a career.” For upcoming projects, Erica says, “I’m photographing an intimate music festival in Thailand in March. Colours of Love at Baba Beach Club in Phuket.” Erica’s advice for those looking for a photographer is “Ask to see full galleries, don’t skip hiring a photographer because your friend offered to take pictures, and make sure they have back up equipment.” Follow Erica Camille here: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Eden Estes

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Eden Estes is a queer, gender diverse, published photographer who specializes in fashion, runway, political, editorial work. Eden loves making people see in themselves what the world already does! Eden’s favorite kind of photography is editorial. Their favorite part about the job is “Meeting new people, especially the queer community around me. I love hearing others stories and they often tell me and it opens up our vulnerability to each other and creates a safe and comfortable space to create art, no matter the style.” When asked about upcoming projects, Eden says, “I was asked to be a campaign photographer for a queer woman politician running for office. I am organizing a very diverse, designer runway focusing mainly, and only on designers, models, business owners, and artists of color. I am dipping my toes into videography for a political project as well as began managing several queer models.” Eden’s advice for those looking to hire a photographer “Find someone who’s work represents everything you envision. Cost plays a factor but these will last forever. Sometimes some things are worth saving up for. I think memorable photos are one.” Follow Eden Estes here: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook

Debbie Lamonte

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I’m Debbie Lemonte but you can call be DJ. I am an NYC/NJ-based wedding, portrait, and lifestyle photographer. This epic journey all started when my close friend gifted me my first camera, a Canon T3i. After graduating with a degree in Dance and Psychology, I focused my passion for both studies & infused it with my love for art, thrusting myself full-time into learning photography & building a business. I believe photography is a powerful and transformative art form and everyone deserves quality photography service while capturing a special day. I use my charisma, genuine spirit, and flexibility to help my clients feel warm & comfortable while enjoying a personable experience in front of the camera. My work has been featured on NBC News, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, The Cut, Refinery29, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, DapperQ, to name a few. Weddings and Elopements are Debbie’s Favorite kind of photography. Debbie says Meeting new people and learning new culture is their favorite part of the job! Upcoming, Debbie will be “I’ll be restarting my Queer Couples Project as well as my We Are Queens project. My focus on each project is to include only folks within the LGBTQIA company as my subjects from various walks of life, regardless of race or body size.” When asked for advice about hiring a photographer, Debbie says, “Always choose someone you have chemistry with & work you’re familiar with. It’ll make the day less stressful.” Follow Debbie Lemonte here: Web Page, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Noelle Rappleyea

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Fabulous Femme, Noelle Rappleyea was born into the business of wedding photography. Her Mother has been capturing beautiful moments for as long as she can remember. By age 10 she had a camera of her own and by age 16 she was equipped with the skills to start capturing weddings. Over ten years have passed since that first wedding and this New York-based photographer has carved out her own path in the industry. Her work has been featured in The Knot, Premier Bride, Get Married, Inside Weddings, and Wedding Style. She does an incredible job capturing the joy, raw excitement of her guests. Weddings, engagements, maternity shoots, and anything in between Noelle is ready to grab her camera and help capture the magic in every moment.  Follow Noelle Rappleyea here: Instagram, Web Page, Facebook

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