PHOTOS: Photographer Joshua Foo discusses leap forward for marriage in Nebraska
March 02, 2015
Updated 3/31: To reflect that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has extended a stay in the marriage ruling until after its appeal
Just hours after a federal judge issued his decision in Nebraska's legal case seeking the freedom to marry, Joshua Foo, an Omaha-based photographer who cares passionately about the freedom to marry and LGBT rights in his home state of Nebraska, began getting excited making preparations for Monday, March 9, when the freedom to marry was set to take effect at last in Nebraska. He planned to document history by photographing the first same-sex couples saying "I do" in the Cornhusker State.
The marriage ruling was put on hold, unfortunately, by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals - but Joshua is still looking forward to the first day of marriages between same-sex couples in Nebraska, which he hopes could come as soon as this summer.
Freedom to Marry spoke with Joshua in March, as the state prepared for a decision in the case, Waters v. Ricketts, brought by the ACLU of Nebraska. He spoke with us about photography, equality, and why marriage matters in Nebraska. Check it out, including some of his beautiful wedding photos of Nebraska same-sex couples.
Q: What is it like to photograph a same-sex couple's wedding in Nebraska, where committed couples continue to be denied the rights and protections of marriage?
I love my city of Omaha and the state I live in, but it's true: Unfortunately the LGBTQ community is denied many rights and protections of marriage and in other areas, such as in the workplace. I am always super excited when a same-sex couple asks me to be part of their big day. I have been photographing weddings for quite sometime now, and at times when I was at the events I would look around and ask myself "Will I ever have this moment in my life?"
When I came out at the age of 28 I started photographing drag performers and events within the LGBTQ community in a way to help out and document the movement. I had a same-sex couple approach me and ask me to photograph their wedding since they were getting married across the bridge in Iowa, and I was super excited. While I was taking their photos it was hard for me not to get emotional. I think it finally hit me, that it is a possibility someday in my future to get married, and I found some hope.
After that, more same sex couples asked me to photograph them. I noticed at the beginning there were not too many photographers in the Omaha area that I knew of who photographed same-sex couples - and if they did, they weren't posting the photos on their pages. I'm happy to see more photographers doing it now... it's great to see. Being openly gay and having my own business as a photographer, I wanted to provide a service to all couples.
Q: How did you get into photography? And what do you like most about photographing weddings and engagement shoots?
I actually started more in film. I use to make silly Internet videos and then took it more seriously. I started working on commercials, television, music videos, etc. I decided to buy a DSLR camera for the film usage and then I thought to myself, "Hey, this takes pictures...you should try that." So I started taking photos and fell in love with it. My friend Kacie at the time had a wedding business and I was second shooting for her until she moved. That's when I started on my own venture.
What I like the most about photographing weddings and engagements is interacting with the couples. I love people and getting to know them, how they met, and also working with them to create something we all love. It's a really fun experience. I swear though, anytime someone's father cries during the reception speech, I have to hide behind my camera because I always tear up.
Q: Will you explain your approach to wedding and engagement photography? Your photos often include animation or fun, imaginary elements. What's the thought process behind that?
Ever since I was little, my imagination guided me through life; my head was always in the clouds. When I started doing family or engagement photos, I started to think about scenes from movies or fantasy-inspired stories that also matched the aesthetics of the person or couple I was photographing. There are a lot of photographers in the world and I always try to challenge myself to do something new or different. I have been so lucky to work with couples who are open to doing fun photos. It's always a blast.
Q: As a gay person yourself, how would it feel to see Nebraska's ban on marriage between same-sex couples struck down?
I will be so overjoyed to see the marriage ban on same sex marriage struck down. I have thought about this for a long time. I would love to be married someday to the person I love in my own state. I have already started collecting wedding decorating ideas in a scrapbook, I know, I'm a nerd haha. As a photographer that photographs families and weddings it makes me so excited to have more celebrations to be part of. I love seeing people happy and being able to provide a service that is inclusive to all families and couples. The way I see it, love is love and everyone deserves to have their special day.