Yesterday the Minnesota Senate voted 37-30 to legalize same-sex marriage and Governor Dayton will sign the bill today. Eli and I are thrilled. Over the weekend I decided that I was going to head to the Capitol on Monday morning and photograph the events of the day. (Reason #6934 that being self-employed is awesome).
I arrived at 8am and started the day on the Capitol steps photographing the crowd as they welcomed the Senators to work. The rest of the day was kind of a blur. Once people moved inside, the building pulsed with singing and chanting and there was on overwhelming sense of joy. I felt really fortunate to be there.
At noon, Senator Scott Dibble introduced the bill to the Senate. By then the Capitol building was bursting at the seams with people. I was one of the first photographers there in the morning, now there were dozens and dozens of media members. I had no idea how long the proceedings would take and I was incredibly hot, tired, and hungry but too excited to stop. For fear of missing the decision announcement I quickly ate an apple in the corner and continued on to figure out how I was going to document the moment the votes were announced. I saw a lot of photographers just standing behind people and I knew that I wanted really personal photos of a few individuals in the sea of the crowd. There were televisions set up in the hallways of the building so people could watch and listen to the proceedings. I moved from group to group in hopes of finding the right one. Eventually, I came across a gathering of people that seemed perfect so I wedged myself between the side of the television and a lamp. And there I worked…and waited…and waited. I was so physically uncomfortable but I knew the shot I wanted, I knew I had to be right there to get it, but I just didn’t know when it would happen. You guys, I waited wedged in that corner for over two hours. Finally, after hours of listening, photographing, and talking to these individuals the decision was announced. With my left leg on the lamp base, my right leg propped up against the TV stand, and tears streaming down my face I got the shots that I envisioned in my mind. I’ve never heard anything so loud as the cheers that reverberated through the building at that moment. It was so moving. In the end, I find it strangely beautiful that perseverance brought us all to that very moment.
Yes, Eli and I are wedding photographers. But at heart, we’re photographers. Throughout the day several people asked me who I was with or who I was shooting for. When I responded with, “myself” they were always surprised. Shooting yesterday was a challenge to myself–professional development is what the corporate world would call it, I guess. I pushed myself in ways I never have before and, frankly, I surprised myself. My shooting has changed a lot since I took The Foundation Workshop this winter. It’s an amazing photojournalism workshop full of incredible people and teachers. The workshop is the reason I had enough guts to shoot yesterday and, even though it’s been over three months, my mentors’ words were still bright and bold and stuck with me all day long.
It was an exhausting and exhilarating day but I was so moved and I’m really proud of my photos. I hope these photos bring you hope, joy, and peace on this extraordinary day.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
Also, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis