When Thea Dodds, the award-winning photojournalist and founder of AuthenticEye.com called Kathryn Hamm, president of Gayweddings.com, to talk about an idea she had for a book on lesbian and gay wedding photography, little did the two women know that thousands of photos and seven months later they’d be publishing their debut book — Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography.
Created for same-sex couples looking to secure the right person for their own weddings and industry photographers looking to better their portraiture of the community, Capturing Love has been — from the start — a true collaboration.
After their initial meeting, the two authors spoke weekly on the phone to create a business plan and discuss their joint vision. Explains Thea:
“Before we even began digging through images, we talked conceptually about how to organize the content, what it’s look and feel needed to be, and what we thought was working in traditional photography and what wasn’t.”
From there they posted a call for photos on photography forums and went through past submissions to Gayweddings.com to find images. It was a huge undertaking, but in the end they secured photos from 46 couples in 19 states as well as Canada, the UK and Italy.
Once the project was complete Thea and Kathryn spoke with contacts who provided insight on the benefits of traditional versus independent publishing. Both women anticipated that 2013 would be a big year for same sex marriage in the wake of gay marriage victories in Washington, Maryland and Maine, so they agreed to go independent to get the book to market sooner. Now, Capturing Love is available on Lulu.com and will soon launch in the iBookstore as well as on Amazon.com and BN.com.
Given their public call for photos, Kathryn and Thea couldn’t keep project under wraps. They turned that buzz into an opportunity to build a fan base by launching a website and Facebook page almost immediately. They also decided to work with a communications firm that specialized in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) community because, as Kathryn acknowledges, “for the book to have its best chance to be recognized and make the impact we hope it will, we would need extra support to get that message across.” Last, but not least, the co-authors sent a PDF of Capturing Love around to several “thought leaders” pre-publication, with the hope that having “known” third-party reviews published on the back of the book would be helpful to us.”
And their efforts have paid off. In the past few months they’ve been reviewed in Professional Photographer Magazine and featured on WeddingWire EDU Pro Blog and in Huffington Post‘s “Gay Voices” column.
Kathryn and Thea have come out of the publishing process with sage advice for aspiring authors:
“If you are writing a book that you’d like to see on a wider stage, spend some time researching the various components that go into publishing. There’s a lot of work to do—from being a good writer and seeking feedback to understanding marketing, social media, distribution and retail. It’s no small task, but if writing or producing a book is on your bucket list and you have a solid business plan, go for it!”
For now, Kathryn and Thea are spreading the word about Capturing Love by speaking at conferences where they also help educate photographers and others interested in same-sex wedding photography. Neither will rule out another book in the future because as Kathryn explains, “it’s been fun!”