More than two years ago, a young woman was having head shots taken at Treft.Punkt, in Alaska. During her shoot, she asked the photographer, Shalem Matthew, about wedding engagement shoots.
“Do you photograph all kinds of people?” She asked.
Shalem was a bit confused. “I think we do,” he started. “What do you mean ‘all kinds of people’?”
“Like, do you photograph all kinds of couples?,” she clarified. “Like, an engagement with two women.” She explained that she had approached two other local photographers, and they turned her and her girlfriend down.
Shalem smiled, nodded: “Of course.”
The young woman had come to the perfect studio: Shalem owned Propaganda AK with his partner, Mitch Kitter.
This experience lit a spark for Shalem and Mitch, who found it disheartening that same-sex couples like the young woman were denied by photographers and told that their love is not worth documenting.
“Love is love – all love is equal,” Mitch thought, and quickly, he and Shalem began planning a new project – the “Love is Love” project, a photography exhibit and book featuring 28 same-sex couples from across Alaska.
The project officially launched in October 2012 with an exhibit in Anchorage, and soon, Mitch and Shalem will be embarking on a more expansive tour through the United States, arranging new photo shoots with other loving same-sex couples in the country, many of whom are still denied the freedom to marry.
“Love is Love” is not just a gorgeous photography project. It is not just a creative method of advocating for same-sex couples and their freedoms in Alaska. It is both of those things – but it is more than that: it is a beautiful celebration of love, an affirmation of people who have committed their lives to each other, a reminder that the nationwide discussion over the freedom to marry involves real people, a loud and strong and compelling and simple declaration: love is love.
Here, Freedom to Marry caught up with 10 of the Alaska couples who participated in Mitch and Shalem’s Love is Love project. Read their stories, and watch a video at the end of the post featuring more great families and their stories. Check out Love is Love’s official website, and follow the project on Facebook HERE.