24 Philadelphia Photographers That Should Have Made Philly In Love's List

Yesterday was a long day friends. If you follow me on instagram or facebook, you have probably by now read all about the madness that occurred between myself and the local wedding blog, Philly In Love. In case though you have no idea what I am talking about, let me give you the really short version! (If you’d like the whole story, you can read it on my fb page by clicking here). Yesterday Philly In Love posted 18 photographers that they called their list of “favorites” on their instagram and shared only images of white, straight, thin couples. On the list, it appears that 17 of the 18 photographers are also white. So after hearing that PIL was deleting any comments about asking for why there wasn’t more diversity on a blog in one of the countries most diverse cities, I took to instagram stories and the whole thing went down from there. From being blocked, to watching countless of my friends’ comments deleted and then them blocked from their social media, to the owner threatening me on my account and telling my friend to “pound sand” if she didn’t like it, to PIL posting on their page that they are for ALL love with a handful of tokenized POC and LGBTQ couples, to the final straw of the owner calling all of these calls for inclusion to be bigotry, hatred and racist. It was a hot dang mess ya’ll. And I have allllllll the receipts but that’s not what this post is about.

Last night as I sat trying to process all that happened, I kept having the words of some of my local vendors swirl through my head. This is not the first time I have called someone out for fake allyship and it won’t be the last and it is always met with people saying this stuff doesn’t really matter and that talking about it is just for drama. And yet they will want to shoot an LGBTQ wedding because it makes them feel cool or because “I mean money is money man even if I think they will all probably go to hell.” Yes, a local photog did say that to me while second shooting for me once. And that makes me so angry ya’ll. And this happens well beyond the queer community. People say they are about equality but don’t show black and brown bodies. They say that all bodies are beautiful and only share thin ones. They say all love is equal and that they value every wedding they are apart of yet only showcase thin, white, barbie looking couples.

Of the 18 photographers they mentioned, only 3 of them had an image in their top images that featured black, brown or queer bodies. 5 of them had more if you scrolled a little further but the representation was not great. And many of them commented on Philly in Love’s post, patting them on the back for even showing any diversity at all. And that’s when it hit me, this isn’t about inclusion for almost anyone. This about money and knowing that showing a few POC or LGBTQ or bigger bodies or not able bodied folks makes them look good. They don’t actually care about creating space, just about what makes them look good and that’s not just Philly In Love, its so many vendors as well. They will be queer-friendly or be all about those curves or showing off a gorgeous ethnic couples when it serves them and that isn’t allyship friends.

In putting this blog post together I looked at well over 220 local photographers websites and I sat here at one point with tears rolling down my cheeks. I could only come up with 24 photographers across all genres and styles that I felt consistently showed diversity, advocated for the rights of others and who didn’t just pay lip service to the idea that love is love and all love stories matter. Philly deserves better from us ya’ll. And while maybe not all of these 24 photographers are the best allies to marginalized communities, they seem to be going in the right direction. And I am sure I missed a few too. But what is so heartbreaking is HOW MANY SITES didn’t have a single LGBTQ couples, a single person of color, a single interracial couple, or any plus size/larger bodies. And if they did, it was buried at the bottom of a portfolio or randomly sprinkled in because they only had one.

Here’s the deal. You can’t call yourself a Philly area photographer and not have diversity. This is a majority minority city and if you aren’t attracting not white, not thin, not heterosexual couples….that is your fault. It is because you do styled shoots that feature only one kind of couple. It is because you make your contest winners the ones who are thin, white and straight. It is because you showcase families that are like your own. How can you change that? Get involved in communities that are different from you. Donate money, help causes that support the rights of all people. Shoot for free if it means getting to work with folks who you don’t have in your portfolio. Put in the time and effort to learn and shut up when someone from a minority group tells you how something makes them feel. Stop choosing the images that showcase one kind of client and make sure that when anyone views your work they have the opportunity to feel seen and welcome. Support the work and effort of folks who are putting their name and business on the line to call attention to a lack of diversity. And be willing to pay for others to help you learn, grow and become a better ally.

This list isn’t perfect, but it is my way of saying both to Philly in Love and to my community at large that we can do better. We MUST do better. If you are a photographer reading this, you can do better. You can show more diversity, be more involved in pushing for equality for everyone and use your portfolio as a way to fight back that the perfect wedding, shoot, boudoir session etc isn’t only with a thin, white, able bodied, or heterosexual couple. We all can do more, especially me. I don’t say all of this thinking that my work is done. There is always new ways I can fight racism, homophobia, ableism, sizeism, zenophobia, etc. Join me in that journey. Go update your portfolio, post a model a call, reach out to a queer couple who has kids, volunteer for a social justice organization, call out racism, donate to causes that fight for equality. Just go do something. And encourage your friends and family and networks to do the same.

**Presented in no particular order**

1.) Amber Marlow, Photographer

NYC Wedding photographer and photo editor of Catalyst Wedding Co

 

2.) Deerwood Empowerment + Boudoir

Body Positive boudoir in Jackson NJ

 

3.) Lucy Baber

Lifestyle family, newborn and child photographer and art activist

 

4.) Celeste Jones Photography

Delaware Wedding, portrait and boudoir photographer

 

5.) Charmi Peña

Nikon Ambassador and world wide published photographer

 

6.) Brittney Raine Photography

Modern, laid back photography for non-traditional weddings and couples in love

 

7.) Alysha Yoder Photography

Lifestyle Photographer in York, PA

 

8.) Justin Heyes Photography

SLR Lounge writer and accomplished photographer in Delaware County, PA

 

9.) Rose Glass Photography

Queer and POC photographer that proudly supports the LGBTQ+ and polyamorous communities

 

10.) Samantha Marie Photography

Creating and honoring connections wherever we go, Philly Wedding and Empowerment Photographer

 

11.) Serena Star Photography

One of the top 10 up and coming photographers by Professional Photographers Magazine

 

12.) Ann Blake Photography

Philadelphia Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer

 

13.) Unforgettable Expressions

Unique and timeless wedding photography from a husband and wife duo

 

14.) Contigo Photo and Film

Nerdy, Quirky, Passionate Philadelphians specializing in Event, Family, Wedding, Lifestyle, and pretty much People photography and videography with a journalistic and cinematic style. 

 

15.) Cheyenne Gil

Body Positive Boudoir Photography in Philadelphia, PA

 

16.) Abhi Sarkar

Lifestyle wedding photographer in Philadelphia

 

17.) Shannon Collins

Wedding photographer for my fellow awkward and shy people, located in Philadelphia, PA

 

18.) Tara Beth Photography

LGBTQ+ photographer for the adventurous couple in love (and also our wedding photographer!!)

 

19.) Boswick Photography

Personal photography experiences for New Jersey Couples in Love

 

20.) Inspire Photos

Lifestyle Photography and films out of Galloway, NJ

 

21.) Peach Plum Pear

Modern Organic Wedding Photography in Philadelphia, PA

 

22.) SGW Photography

Philadelphia Area Lifestyle Photographer

 

23.) Pombo Photography

New Jersey and NYC Metro Wedding and Portrait Photographer

 

24.) Samantha Jean Photography

Natural and genuine wedding and portrait photographer based out of Hanover PA

Layla and Meg - An Old City Philadelphia Lesbian Wedding

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I usually can get the vibe of a wedding day from the moment I walk into the getting ready rooms of my couples and let me tell ya - I knew from the second I saw these two, their wedding day was going to be a PARTY! And it sure was! Layla and Meg had a beautiful winter wedding in Philly on the last weekend of 2018 in historic Old City Philadelphia at the Renaissance Hotel and they were surrounded by such much love and laughter! I adore Meg’s goofy self, the way she makes every thing feel like a party and I love that Layla is the perfect match for her. Layla is caring, down to earth and oh so sweet, evening feeding me snacks before their ceremony started because she know about my blood sugar issues.

These two decided to have a marathon of a wedding day by renting a party bus to go all over the city for portraits and it was SO MUCH FUN! I rarely get to ride in the bus with my clients and they blasted music, dancing and drinking champagne and it set such a tone for the fun to come! They had the most laughter filled ceremony I have ever been apart of and you know what they say! A Couple who laughs together, stays together and if that’s true….well Layla and Megan are going to be together forever.

I got to work with the incredible team over at KMT Event Group and I made an instant bff in owner Kia. Her team made the day flow perfectly, the details look just right and kept me laughing all day long. It so nice to get to work with vendors who love their jobs and couples as much as I do and it was obvious that they do!

Layla and Meg, thank you for allowing the honor of being apart of your beautiful and joy filled day! I had such a hard time narrowing this down to a few favorites because I loved it all! I wish you both a lifetime of the kind of laughter you shared on this day!

Sarah and Bryan - A Manayunk Brewery Winter Wedding

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When I saw the forecast for Sarah and Bryan’s day, I won’t lie, this girl squealed! It was in the mid 50’s and for a wedding that was on the last weekend of 2018, thats practically unheard of! And it was going to be sunny!! I started of their day at the Hilton on City Line Ave for getting ready photos and they both had such gorgeous spaces and light! Which is a photographers dream! Sarah decided to forgo the traditional white gown and had this stunning gold sequin dress custom made for her and it was gorgeous! And Bryan wore the most incredible Burgundy suit! Both of their looks were perfectly complimented by my girl Lauren’s florals (owner of Bloomsbury Floral Design) and those stunning, rich colors added that extra bit of glam every winter wedding needs!

Sarah and Bryan had their first look right outside their venue, the gorgeous Manayunk Brewery. Watching Sarah come around the corner, it was so sweet to see Bryan’s whole face light up! These two so clearly love each other and they couldn’t stop smiling and sneaking kisses all day long! We wandered around Manayunk for some portraits with their wedding party before it was time to make these two officially husband and wife. Sarah’s dad sang a beautiful song that was apart of his wedding with Sarah’s late mother and there were tears all around. There was so much obvious emotion for Sarah in that moment and watching her and her dad walk down the aisle was easily my favorite part of their day.

And then it was party time! The Manayunk Brewery provided incredible cocktails and food, the couple danced, speeches were given and the friends and family danced the night away. Right before we left though, I captured one of my favorite images ever of Sarah and Bryan dancing through the window while I blocked traffic on Main Street in Manayunk. Anything for that perfect shot though and it was the perfect way to end a perfect day!

Oh, and can I just say how much I loved getting to work with this venue? Their coordinator Paris did such an incredible job and was so easy to work with, which as a photographer, is a dream! The venue recently underwent a renovation and its safe to say, its just an incredibly stunning space now! And I really hope some more couples bring me back there soon!

Enjoy some of my favorites from my second to last wedding of 2018! And a massive thank you to Sarah and Bryan for allowing us to be apart of your day!

Florist - Bloomsbury Floral Design

Venue and Catering - Manayunk Brewing Company

Day of Coordinator - Paris Rose, Manayunk Brewing Company

Hotel - Hilton City Line Ave

Penny Praline - A Queer Philadelphia Plus Size Boudoir Session

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Tattoos + a badass queer babe + a gorgeous penthouse = you better believe some serious magic! Penny was such a delight to work with during her shoot and she was game for anything! Her gorgeous tattoos and outfit choices really shined in her session and this Fishtown Philadelphia penthouse was the most ahhhmazing backdrop! We had all the fun laughing and rolling around and getting wet, but more than that, Penny is the kind of person you just wanna hang out with because she is so down to earth and sweet and funny. And she is a photographers DREAM to shoot! I also love that she didn’t wanna hide her body and was all about loving all of it! Not every client who walks through my door is down for this and thats ok, but when I get to work with a babe thats like nah, all of me is amazing, its awesome!

A huge thank you to Penny for hiring me for this shoot and allowing me to share some favs with all of you! Wanna schedule your own shoot? Click here to learn all the details and send us a message!

2018 Best of Swiger Photography

Sitting down to write this post feels like taking a deep breath…that exhale that comes after holding your breath for so long. This year has been a busy one, so many beautiful Philadelphia area weddings and even some shoots/weddings in Ohio, Baltimore, New York, New Jersey and Delaware! I have been so lucky to be apart of such different weddings this year and to work with so many different folks on a wide variety of projects and shoots and it feels so incredible to scroll through all of these images. You are all so incredible!!!

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I started a new tradition with my best of boudoir post (click here if you’d like to check that out!!) of selecting a photo of the year and I think I am going to carry that over to here as well. Picking just one image to call my 2018 favorite is SO HARD. The top favs for portraits include so many people I adore and images I am so proud of but this image speaks to me for a lot of reasons but I’ll to share a few. The first is that this year was a year of loving and hating light. My studio had too much of it, most of my wedding days had not enough of it and as someone who always ran from shadows, learning to embrace them and see the beauty they bring to images was a battle. I also love the quiet way this image draws you in, the confident calmness that Taylor has in it and the way the shadows perfectly frame her face. And to be honest, I also just love the memory of this day, walking around my new neighborhood in Philly with some incredible babes.

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For my favorite wedding image….Oh ya’ll this was a HARD! There were so many moments, so many images that just spoke to me and were favorites, but I decided to go with an image that seemed to be a favorite in almost every category. Nuriya and Jess had one of my all time favorite wedding days and it was a day that I really pushed myself to do more, try new things and be present with my couple in new ways. And it paid off. This image is from their first look, right before they opened their eyes for the first time to see the woman that in a few short hours would be their wife. I remember telling them that and having them take a few deep breaths and the joy and excitement, but also the peace, was something you could feel. I remember vividly the tears I had in that moment and the ones that followed! This quickly became my favorite way to do first looks because I loved how intimate and how much emotion they tend to have, but theirs was the first and now we refer to this type of first look between Jordan and I as “the Nuriya and Jess.”

And on a more me note, I also chose this image because shooting backlit is something I often struggle with and yet I knew this was the only spot that made sense for their first look. I was so nervous to get this perfect and pushed myself out of my comfort zone and it paid off big time! And I am so proud of how these turned out!

Well get ready to scroll friends because below is the narrowed down favorites from 2018 and I am so excited to share my personal favorite images from this year! And a HUGE thank you to every single one of you here for allowing me to be apart of your lives and days and to photograph you! I adore you all so much!

Jimmie and Chris - An Old City Philadelphia Rooftop Elopement

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From my very first email exchange with Jimmie, I knew I would like these two. From her sense of humor, to the way she wanted their wedding day to be a celebration of them, to her openness to ideas, to the way she described her and Chris’s relationship, I knew they were the kind of couple I had to work with. Together we planned a weekday afternoon wedding a top Bridge On Race Apartments (where Jordan and I live) and for them to get ready at Lokal Hotel, which is right around the corner and then end the evening with some portraits.

The day of their elopement there was not a cloud in the sky. Their suite at Lokal Hotel was bustling with their friends and family and Jimmie and Chris getting ready. After taking some photos of each of them getting dressed we did a little first look in a gorgeous alley right beside their hotel. This was my favorite part of the day…watching Chris see his beautiful bride for the first time and to see him cry with joy, it was just so beautiful. These two really love each other and it was so evident in that moment as well as in their vows a few minutes later.

They said “I do” 18 floors high overlooking the Ben Franklin Bridge with 6 of their favorite people around them. They chose to self unite, or have a Quaker Ceremony, which allowed them to not need an officiant. This made their wedding ceremony so perfectly them. Their vows were long and sweet, giggles were shared, her mom took photos and with a kiss it was all official. They were married! After pausing to take some photos of them with their guests, we headed down the street to the Painted Bride for some photos of the two of them. I loved this time with the two of them, the way they just laughed and made jokes, the way they were just so completely themselves. And it shows in their images, which made my initial thought true…I really did like these two!

Jimmie and Chris, thank you for allowing me to be apart of your start of this next new adventure. You two are so much fun and even though this blog post is far too late, I couldn’t not share your incredible day! Enjoy a few of my favorites!

2018 - Best of Boudoir Post

The end of every year brings reflection, but this particular year has been such a whirlwind that its hard to remember what life felt like back in December of 2017. I had just moved into my very own studio, I was facing a busy January full of weddings and my busiest calendar to date. And my oh my, was this year a busy one! Pulling my favorite boudoir images for this year was a DAUNTING task ya’ll. My original list was 5x what this post contains because I have been so lucky to work with so many amazing people and for that, I am grateful! And while I will be sharing my favorite wedding and portrait images in the beginning of 2019 (I still have two weddings left this year and I have to include those!!), I am so excited to share my favorite boudoir images of 2018 first!

Before I get to those images though, I wanted to take a minute and tell you a little about how seeing all of these images feels for me. I never set out to be a boudoir photographer but shooting this type of work brings out the best in me. Boudoir is intrinsically personal and to me, every single babe that has allowed me to get to know them and create beautiful images that show their authentic selves is something I am so incredibly grateful for. But I think what moves me to tears though is how diverse this group of babes is! I believe wholeheartedly that sexuality and beauty is found in every single person but often society tried to limit those words to certain folks, so to have been able to create images of so many different folks of different expressions and backgrounds and body sizes and skin colors and sexualities….I feel humbled and honored. You all inspire me so much and I can’t wait to continue the work of creating safe spaces fo you to embrace and be your badass, authentically sexy and stunning selves.

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Oh and one more thing! I wanted to also share my FAVORITE boudoir image of the whole year with ya’ll! While I love all of my clients and shoots, this particular image speaks so much to me as a person and an artist and to be able to create it with someone as incredible as our dear friend Tiel, well it means the world to me. This whole shoot is my fav from this year but this image speaks to me most of all because of the strength it takes to find laughter and joy amidst tears and pain and heartbreak. This shot is in between some incredibly powerful images of Tiel crying in the shower and I am just so grateful for this woman’s support and friendship and that she allowed me into a hard space in her life to create this series and that we were both able to find moments of laughter in that. Here is to hoping 2019 is full of these kinds of powerful images and incredible babes!

So without further ado, here are my 2018 favorite boudoir images in no particular order!

3 Ways to Have The Queer Wedding Of Your Dreams

I recently was chatting with a friend who is getting married and they asked me what my top three tips would be for them as a queer couple as they are planning. It took me a moment to respond because there are so many things I would say to a queer couples but I quickly narrowed it down to what I think are the three biggest tips and I thought it would be helpful to share them here too! While I don’t think this is an exhaustive list or the only ways to have the queer wedding of your dream, I hope it gives any couples out there feeling a bit overwhelmed a place to start!