My First Wedding Shoot, by Tracey Noelle Luz
I fell in love with photography in 2000 at an exhibit of Sebastio Salgado’s work on Immigration at the International Center of Photography in New York City. Through Salgado’s work, I could feel the power of photography to move people emotionally and to educate the audience about the world. It was love at first sight.
Years later, in 2004, I would travel to Vietnam and experience how the camera could let us transcend language and culture and interact with each other. The camera for me was a way to introduce myself to a stranger on the street, opening doors that would otherwise remain closed.
I wanted to combine these elements of photography, a source of change and a force to bring people together, as a form of activism. One that would be fun and engaging and encourage people to get involved. In 2006, before gay people were legally allowed to get married in the United States, I asked a group of my friends if they wanted to shoot a “gay wedding,” for photos we could circulate as a form of activism for marriage equality.
Everyone agreed, and on a rainy and chilly November Saturday morning we convened in Hamilton Park in Jersey City. Carla Anderson, the owner of local hair salon Balance, provided all the styling for the “bride” and “groom,” community organizers Renata Moreira and Nancy Caamano. They were married by Donald Gallagher, an alto in Reverand Billy’s “The Church of Stop Shopping” Choir.
Local artist Hamlet Manzueta and poet Dujuana Sharese were in attendance with community organizers Beth Achenbach, Cat Hecht, Paul Mendoza and Miguel Cardenas.
Recently, Nancy asked me to dig these photos up again. Going through them, I was so touched by how everyone sacrificed their Saturday afternoon and put in so much time and energy. I was also moved to see that everything we had hoped for in terms of marriage equality would come to pass only 8 years later. That was also the moment that I realized I loved shooting weddings!
Jersey City, New Jersey is a special place. I’ve lived here since 2000, and built strong relationships that I cherish today. Jersey City is where I met Eric Harvey Brown, one of my favorite photographers and now my business partner in Honey and Moon Photography!