Now that the book is finally out, we’re hearing stories from those who’ve encountered The New Art of Capturing Love at our book events and elsewhere that give us chills. Case in point: this email from our contributing photographer, Kat Forder. We were so blown away by her telling of the story and the impact of the book, we asked her (and her student) for permission to share the story on our blog. They graciously agreed.
Without further ado, Kat Forder:
For a couple of years now, I’ve been teaching a course at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts at their Georgetown campus. I teach my specialty in the photography industry – retail photography (weddings and portraits). Students come from Virginia, DC, Maryland and all over the world to attend so I have a very big cross section of cultures, race, age, religion and country of origin in my classroom.
In this course, I teach about aspects and features of a typical American wedding, of same sex weddings, as well as Jewish, Persian, East Indian, Buddhist traditions and so on. I also spend a good deal of time on the basics of portraiture, how to pose males and females according to traditional western art ideals, how to effectively pose couples of different sizes, ages, height, etc. I bring all kinds of couples into the classroom to allow the students to practice applying their new skills. And then, towards the last week of class I introduce Capturing Love (and, since its release, The New Art of Capturing Love) as a resource for further learning about great couple’s portraiture.
It can be a delicate and intense class to teach at times. Some students inevitably refuse to complete assignments involving same sex couples as models. Some walk out when an image is shown with a same sex couple.
Typically, in each class, I have a student who objects to same sex marriage, or has concerns about serving LGBTQ clients somehow. The objections stem from religion, culture, community pressure, the state they live in, personal belief, ignorance, fear or lack of experience – in short, many different reasons. Regardless of the reason, it never takes long for the personal belief to surface; “passionate artists” and all.
It can be a delicate and intense class to teach at times. Some students in the past have refused to complete assignments involving same sex couples as models. Some have walked out of the class when an image is shown with a same sex couple. I had one student refuse to touch a paper with a beautiful picture of a lesbian couple. As an instructor any barriers to a student’s learning can be discouraging. On a personal level, I find this is heartbreaking.
Right now I’m three weeks into my current class — the typical time frame when I’d expect to find a student who breaks down, walks out, or is otherwise “overwhelmed” by the course content. I have not yet introduced the book in the classroom and no one has found my work in the books, but we’ve been speaking about posing, portraiture and the current laws regarding same sex marriage and we’ve been studying examples. Gradually, as they are being exposed to more and more content the potential for debate increases.
The other night in class, the students were set to begin work with their first couple, without knowing anything in advance about the couple. The nerves and tension was palpable in the room. As the class began, a quiet, reserved, middle-aged African-American student held up a copy of your book.
My opinion up ’til now has come from a place of ignorance, and I don’t want to be ignorant.
“Three weeks ago,” he said, “I didn’t think I could do this. I didn’t think I could work with same-sex couples. I spoke to my wife, and my classmates and I bought this over the weekend, and I’m reading it,” he said, holding up the book.”My opinion up ’til now has come from a place of ignorance, and I don’t want to be ignorant. I’m educating myself now and I’m not sure where this will take me, but I’m trying. If you all want to try, too, I recommend that you get this book.”
You could have heard a pin drop in the classroom.
This gentleman’s courage, honesty and effort shocked me to silence and will stick with me. I think all teachers must dream of moments like this, when a student takes a leap and makes a connection. I didn’t have to do anything more than lead by example and make the tools and ideas available.
He later shared that the class and the book made him realize that the fight for marriage equality is not unlike the civil rights fight he experienced and witnessed as a child of the 60’s and 70’s in Dayton, Ohio.
Education really is the best tool against ignorance. Thanks for the book ladies.
About Kat Forder
Kat identifies as a storyteller who uses the camera as her pen. She’s been a small town photographer and journalist, is an instructor at CDIA-BU (DC), and is a contributing photographer in The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Learn more about her and the additional publications in which her work has been published.