Queerly Beloved

9. LGBTQ+ Wedding Photographers: Your Biggest Advocates - A Conversation with River and Root

March 08, 2023 Anna Treimer Episode 9
Queerly Beloved
9. LGBTQ+ Wedding Photographers: Your Biggest Advocates - A Conversation with River and Root
Show Notes Transcript

One of the most important things about being an LGBTQ+ wedding and elopement photographer who wants to be part of radical change in the wedding industry is connecting with other like-minded photographers to exchange stories and knowledge. The community and standards we build together will pave the way for the future!

This week in my podcast, I spoke with D (they/them) and Meg (she/her/they/them) from
River and Root photography to talk about their experiences in this industry and how they intentionally run their business to change the wedding industry for the better.

Connect with them on instagram
Also be sure to connect with our episode sponsor, Homebody Candles at

The intro and all instrumentals were written, sung and recorded by @JaynaDavisMusic

Clearly, beloved, we are gathered here this week with a amazing river and root photography team, and I'm so excited to have them here and get to know them and have you all get to know them too. So let's just start out there. Would you two please, like, introduce yourself, your pronouns and any important identities to you? Sure. I'm Dee. I use they, them pronouns. recently figured out that I'm trans non-binary, so that's really exciting. Meg, I'm Meg. my pronouns are she her and they them and yeah, I'm the, I'm the other kind of smaller part of River and Root. Dee started this beautiful Bebe, many years before I joined, but now I'm really stoked. This is kind of like year three. or something of me mm-hmm. moving into year two or three. and yeah, I just get to support the, and in, in all the aspects, where I can. Yeah, that was beautiful thing. Yeah. I started River and Route, I think legally in 2018. And I think I started, like conceptualizing river and route and doing more intentional photography in 2017. it just feels like it hasn't been very long and it's been a while, so it's a little bit more Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. Can you tell me a little bit about how you chose that name or like any significance? Oh my gosh. It's so funny because I feel like we often will make fun of like new restaurants that we see in the area, cuz they're just like, pick a noun and pick a place. and, I think I knew that I wanted the name to be really short. I've never felt really connected to my name. I go by D but my first name is very, is is hard to pronounce for most people. And I had my photography business as my first and last name for a little bit. and a lot of folks do that and it just wasn't my vibe. And so, with my, partner at the time, we just kind of like, were just throwing out words, until something felt really good. And I think the alliteration felt really good and also like, hmm, movement and growth and that like symbiosis. it just felt. Like a really cool name at the time, and now it feels like a name that that fits well. Yeah. Mm-hmm. I think that's good. I feel like you, you have so grown into your name, it's so mm-hmm. like we do shoot in a lot of rivers. H, We are always looking for interesting tree roots to incorporate and it's all about, you know, yeah. Like finding the foundation of something or celebrating the beginning of something. you know, just saying, I, I dunno if it was the name that made you become that good. Lemme change my answer really quick to just, yeah. I feel like you could get some really cool, like tattoo work around. That'd be a great tattoo. I have a tree on my bag, so we're already, I wanted have it. Yeah. I think I have with very strong roots. H So we're already. We're good. There you go. Yeah. I totally relate to, to what you said also though, because my business name used to be my name and first of all, like most people call me end up calling me Anna, and my name's Anna, which is like totally fine. It's not that, you know. but I also was like, yeah, I'm not really that attached to my name. And also like, it'd be so much more fun to have something a little bit different, you know, more memorable. So I totally get that too. I think there is like a weight of, that you carry for a while when people are just consistently mispronouncing your name. that at least for me was able to like, I was able to just. Unattach myself from my name because I had spent like my entire childhood correcting adults on how to say my name. and then now I'm like, that's not my name anymore. And everybody can say D everybody Aw. Yeah. I will say my, my life has gotten significantly better since the movie Frozen came out. So there is that. Oh, thank you. Anna I can find the silver lining yeah. But yeah, I was wondering if you two would share a little bit more about your story and I don't know, I just think that there's something like so beautiful and powerful about like the kind of relationship that you two have and how that shows up in your business. Like, I don't know. There's plenty of like husband wife teams out there and stuff like that. And so like to have you two out there, like showing something different is really beautiful. So I'd love to know a little bit more about that. Thank you. That's awesome to hear before. Yeah. sure. I think, so I think, well it had been kind of your hope to have a second to, to have a partner that was gonna, support you in this or, or a business partner. And, and we feel really lucky that we kind of got to like, find that together. It's so much fun to get to, to dream and bounce ideas off someone. And we definitely have, different and complimentary skill sets, so that helps us a lot. like on the, on the business end of things. Mm-hmm. and it just feels like a creative active love that we get to do together, which is pretty rad. Hmm. that's really nice. And we, we had known each other kind of through shared community in Denver. we actually recently found a picture that Dee had taken of me like years before we met, just because we happened to be at the same dinner that some friends of ours put on. so that was pretty funny. Like the, the foreshadowing, oh my gosh, that's you. Wait a second. We were sitting right across from each other. so yeah, like, you know, queer bubbles are small, even in bigger cities. And, and we crossed paths and finally found each other in, in the romantic sense. and yeah, and like I said, like we've kind of been building and figuring out over the last couple years how to work together and how, how to split a different, I mean, excuse me, a business like it being Dee's creation. It's taken us just a few, like trying different things on different. Yeah. Sharing of the business. Mm-hmm. and ultimately, like, shoot days. It's so nice to have two of us there. That was like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Just to have someone to help hold things or pose when Dee's brain is figuring out a, you know, a light change or something like that, like that, that, makes those days feel. So, I don't know, just more like we're a community of people and we get to all support each other and I dunno. and, and honestly like, like Meg said, I've, I'd always wanted a business partner, someone that was like jazzed about this experience and wanted to put their energy into it. And I kind of hit the ground running when I started the business. I like. Got obviously really into my, photography skills and then also learned all about like marketing and insurance and how to start a business and all of these things. And then before I knew it had kind of this successful business that didn't necessarily have all of the structure to run super fluidly all the time. And Meg is a genius with structure like inbox zero, you know, all of these things, these things that are like, most people are like, yeah, I know how to do that. And I was just like, you know, running a wild and chaotic inbox and, and trying to stay up to date with everything, trying to like, you know, fuel messages or like, you know, funnel messages from different places. And Meg has come in with a lot of, a lot of really good support and structure for the business. So now we. Like we send an email now right after the session telling the people when they're gonna receive their sneak peeks and asking'em if they'd like to leave us a review, like right after the session. That never occurred to me even one time. And Meg was like, for folks to just have all the information so that you can just, and I was like, yeah, that would be, that'd be really great. So just things that, that in my like life and work experience. I started out as a chef, where I started out in the, the food service industry and then was a chef for a while and thought that's what I was gonna do. And so I haven't had a lot of, I guess, backend, administrative, administrative experience. And Meg was able to come in and be like, oh, this is what we need to do. And now things almost run like a really well oiled. That's really generous. Thank you. Yeah, kind Yeah, it's just neat. It's neat to get, to figure out where you can support someone and, and what sort of things, like, I had come from a, from an education business background, and so I have a lot of things, skills that just like kind of weren't getting used any longer. And it, it's been really fun to figure out how to, how to use them for this business and how to make this, like just continue to level up. It's really fun that we, I mean, we're pretty consistently talking about how we can get better at our craft and how we can serve more folks and how we can be just in alignment for ourselves. Like, is this, is this still the right thing? and getting to, to bounce those ideas off someone is, is pretty great. And now we're on a podcast and now we're on a podcast obviously working. We've made it Oh my gosh. Wow. That is so beautiful. Like, oh gosh. Just hearing that you two can like really. Both support and balance each other out. Like I have to believe that your couples feel that too. Like when you're working with them, they're like, wow, how cool that we get to like be here. Like hanging out with another couple that's like crushing it, you know, like personally and business wise, like I know for me that would feel really, really good. So. Wow. That's awesome. You too, Thanks Greg. Yeah, we do get that. Thank also, Meg has this incredible ability, but I also have a little bit of having this like hyper attention to detail and can tell when someone is like needing you to hold for them or need a break or they need a drink of water. Or if I'm thinking, which it sometimes is overwhelming to have someone that knows me that well but. 99% of the time. It's just incredible. And it just feels like I have someone that just like gets me really well mm-hmm. and I think that helps Yeah. Provide an even more comfortable experience for folks that are walking in that like, haven't really met us in person or have, haven't had photos done before. And it just is, I don't know. It it provides more of like a, a social experience a little bit too, and less of just like you're working with the service provider. Thank you. Yeah. You're so good at that. I mean, El elopement now I'm really going off on one. We can cut this though. We, but I was gonna say, you knows elopement are such an interesting, an interesting experience when I first met Dee and realized, wow, so it's really just you and a couple out on this mountaintop, and they're gonna have, they're gonna say their vows to each other. You're maybe gonna overhear that depending on how close you are. And then you're, and you're gonna maybe spend the whole day together. Like it's such a unique, It's such a unique way to spend a day and a unique kind of like social, contractor engagement or something. Yeah. And so, although you can completely undo, hold that all by yourself when it's just you on a shoot, it is just that like I, I can just be the like little bit of, keeping the conversation going or yes. Checking in on folks or whatever. but I just, I also just wanna say like when you are on your own or you, if you're shooting alone, like any, I'm just so impressed that, I think photographers are like pretty magical that you can keep your eye on, on getting all these incredible shots and also take care of people and also connect And, I'm so inspired by that and, and only wanna get better at, at showing up for people because it's so incredible that you can make it feel natural and awesome and beautiful and fun, for a couple on like a really big day. and also for couples who maybe don't even have that much of a model of like what they're trying to create for that day, cuz maybe they've not. Had friends elope or whatever. So I just think it's so, it's such a cool, and unique offering to say like, yeah, let's just spend the day totally focused on you and you getting what you want and need out of this day. And I'm gonna be here taking photos and let's just, it's awesome. It's so beautiful. It should also be noted that Meg is a very good photographer. I was wondering about that. Okay, cool. Here, here, it's, and it makes me feel a little like wild, because I had a wedding that was two years ago. Two years ago, and it was at a ski resort in Colorado and they were gonna do it Ha. that the, instead of like walking down the aisle, they all took the ski lift in like pears. And so it, I couldn't, I literally couldn't be in two places at once. and I hadn't hired a second photographer because the couple didn't want one. And I was like, Meg, how about, we'll, we'll rent you some gear and you'll come and take these photos. and you, a lot of them, you can't tell the difference and who took the photos? It's maddening a little bit because just like you, you were just very naturally good at that. so now, you know, not, I mean I think that the technical aspect of it, like really understanding manual is still something like that. It takes a lot of experience to program your brand to make those changes like really fast when lighting changes or, or what have you. But I think like the basis of being a photographer, like the composition, and interacting with couples and everything like you were so immediately good at it. which helps a ton in the business. There it is. Yay. Yes, occasionally, occasionally I second shoot and always love those opportunities and just as often I'm along as just an assistant or you know, just kind of. helping wherever I can. Yeah. And then Dee often shoots alone still, I'd say. Mm-hmm. Yeah. I'm just wondering, Meg, if you could say that line again about how photographers are magical. Just, you know, I just think everybody really needs to hear that today, Yeah, I do. I mean, it is just such an interesting, and complex set of skills that a photographer has to have. like Dee said, like those, all of those technical elements, I know that you all get, it becomes second nature and you're able to stay attuned with your machine and have your settings right, and, you know, but also, yeah, to like, you have to be the one getting the couple laughing or, and watching for the alb Glow on a mountain behind and making sure that other people on that trail aren't negatively impacted by you stopping for a shot. Like, yeah, there's just so many parts to it and, and I think that, I think. that the photographers that can do all of those aspects really well, and really give their clients an experience where, like Dee said, like clients are always saying to Dee, like, let us know when you're in town. We wanna have you go home for dinner, or we wanna take you on a hike or whatever. to be able to create a connection like that while also delivering, but while being an active artist, photographers are magical. I totally believe that. you talk about yourself too, too. Yeah. We're all, we're, we're all carrying magic. Totally agree wow. Yeah. That's awesome. I can tell. I mean, that's such a huge reason why I wanted to, to speak to you too, cuz not only have I been like creeping on your Instagram for forever, but I also like can so tell that you two, like genuinely care about, about your clients and about your work. and about how you treat people, which is something that I think for me now, like impacts so much of my business too, just, you know, in my identity and, and how I wanna make my clients feel welcomed. so I'm just wondering if you two can chat a little bit too about how your identities and experiences have really shaped how you show up in your business. You want me to go? Sure. well I think considering, you know, that we work with, like the majority of our clients are, are people in the LGBTQ plus community. being queer just kind of gives us like the eyes on the ground, you know, we're, we fully underst understand most things that other people are experiencing or like maybe more like worries they have about. You know, their photo shoot or, or concerns or different things like that. and I think as a person that really never saw themselves represented in the wedding industry, I think that our identity, like we just push so hard for that mm-hmm. ends that, you know, representation is like the most important thing because if you're not representing that community, they're still invisible in your work. and I think that, yeah, we just try to make sure that our couples feel as comfortable as possible and that we, I don't know, wanna take it from here. Yeah. I think, I think queerness is a superpower, first of all. Like, I think that it allows us, it's like being a super unpowered a little bit, you know? Mm-hmm. I, I think we're really aware, like, do you share that they have recently realized that they are trans, non-binary, and so they have done the work of reflecting on their own experience and. Observing others and thinking about really how and who they wanna be in this world. And so I think just having been through that experience, or for either of us having figured out that we were queer and then figured out, that that wasn't always okay or that wasn't always celebrated, that just fires us up. We just want that to be, we want, we wanna create the queerest experiences, you know, like, I think, I think sometimes it's almost, it's hard to describe what it means to be queer. Like it's very political. It can be, for some people it can be very, like sociological or almost like academic or something for some, and it can be totally just all about glitter and parties and what something else for someone else. and I, so I think that figuring out, or just allowing rather. The space to be like openly queer. And for us, that means like asking pronouns, talking about boundaries, talking about queer experiences. Like we, the couple that we were just shooting an elopement with in Big Sur, they let us know, we know we were talking about, whether we could tag them and kind of what their comfort was or like how present this elopement was gonna be in their life, back home. And just even getting to explore that and get, get into a conversation with the couple that we were just spending three hours with, you know? Mm-hmm. that is such a deep and immediate, like, bond and recognition of being in the same community. Mm-hmm. So I feel like it, it's, it's in every element of our work in that kind of like indefinable, like let's make sure people feel held and seen exactly as they are. let's make sure that we're careful with our words and mindful of how, you know, that we're not labeling or assing anything. all of that kind of like. Mindfulness and care for our clients, I think is where our queerness comes in. Or, or yeah. So it's almost like almost indefinable, but those are some, it's, yeah, it's very much at like the root of what at the river and root of what we do. Okay. Yeah, that was great. That was great. Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree. I think, yeah, that's just so awesome what you said too about like boundaries and things like that. Like we're of course, like you could have super awesome service providers who are allies and like meanwhile and wanna provide a good experience, but like, they just don't necessarily have the same like, lived experiences that we do. And so like, might not even. Like, some of those things might just go right over their head, you know, like Totally. so yeah, that's just super awesome and it's super awesome to see you at what you two are up to. So, I was gonna add that there's also this, we obviously work with straight couples too, super rad couples. And, and I would say that like the, the straight folks who have chosen us are choosing us for those same reasons. They're choosing us because they want, if they have a wedding party or if it's a larger group of folks, they wanna have people who are, you know, again, not gonna asse pronouns, not going to, make any assptions about that group of people. and I also think it's an, it's an opportunity for us, even if we're working with a straight couple, of course, we're still gonna ask pronouns. We're still gonna talk about boundaries. We do all of those same things because. because just because folks don't, you know, present as queer doesn't mean we're gonna nail it if we operate on assptions. And then those folks have that example of like, oh, right. Like, we don't, we don't other queer folks we're gonna, you know, we're gonna do the same thing with, with straight folks. And then those, those couples have that experience of having been mindful and mindfully like, walk through that process, which I think is only a benefit. Mm-hmm. then I think maybe, maybe that couple will choose to ask pronouns of the next people they interact with, or, you know. Yeah. Mm-hmm. So I, I appreciate that, that the couples who choose us, who aren't in the queer community are, are, walking through the world with that same mindfulness or trying to, and very much in alignment with like, I don't know, I always say that like, if you make it past the first page of our website, you probably vibe with us. There's like, it's pretty transparent. Like, this is who we are, these are our values, this is what's important to us. And so like, if you make it past that into the contact page, like we can already tell that you're. you're, you're partly our people, you know, like we, we vibe and we have very similar values. yeah. If they've made it that far, if they've, if you've made, they can, yeah. Oh yeah, for sure. Yeah. I feel, I feel the same way sometimes. Like there's still like those fears when you're like, I don't know, like maybe they just thought the pictures were nice and whatever. But yeah, it is. Your website is super cool. yeah. And also, oh, go ahead. Go ahead. I was gonna say, I've also had more in the beginning of the career, I've also been hired to be a photographer at weddings where I've questioned, like, did you read anything about me? Where like, the couple was very close to me, but maybe everyone else in their sphere was not. and I, I, you know, I was at a ceremony where it was, it was very much so like the. The woman is submissive to the man, like that was said in the ceremony and I kind of looked around like, how did I get here? How did I get here? but like the couple was so incredible and we vibed and you know, it was just one of those things where like they made an active choice to choose someone that maybe wasn't in alignment with their family or their friends, and they still chose me and like advocated for me. and that was really cool. Weird, but cool. Yeah. Yeah. That's it. That can be an interesting position to be in, like as a service pro provider on someone's wedding day. Like, I feel like that's a, honestly a lot of reason why I pivoted my business too was because when I first started photography, I was very much still in the closet, like still shooting like big traditional super religious weddings. and then, Somewhere along the line, like came out, but like realized that like all of those weddings, I felt like I had to like still go back in the closet. Like just to shoot the wedding because you're kind of like, you know, I don't know. Yeah. I don't know the room. I don't wanna like, make things weird on like their day, all that stuff. I feel that, I mean, I kind of, yeah, code switching. I like for the majority of the weddings that we work, the couple will like advocate for us and our pronouns, which is incredible. Like regardless of their, of their group. And I also just like when I go into larger weddings, kind of shut off the part of myself that gets challenged by or hurt by being misgendered because I know that it's just this huge group of people and it's, it's about somebody else. You know? It's like their day. And so I don't wanna. Create any kind of like waves or anything. but I think the more we get into this business, the more queer couples we work with and the more weddings we book, I find that more of the couples are actively advocating and like teaching, using it as a teachable moment to teach their family. Like I had a dad come up to me last fall and say like, Hey Dee, I'm so sorry. Earlier I used she her pronouns and I meant to use they them pronouns. And I was like, I turned her. I was crying and I was like, this is so great. Yeah. and that's kind of like, I don't know, goals. I feel like if you can meet and interact and, and vibe with us at a wedding, maybe people that you normally wouldn't, you know, cross paths with in life and that shifts your perspective on pronouns and how it's really not that hard and how, you know, what a gift it is to give someone that, freedom and. I don't know, acknowledging who they are, I think. Mm-hmm. It's just, yeah. And the more, it's like, the more, couples that, that doesn't come up with, it kind of builds our reserve for the few times a year when we do have to just mm-hmm. okay, we're we wanna keep this focus on our couple. And so we're gonna suspend, like you said, kind of suspend our own attachment to that. Or just like, set aside know that there's no ill intent. It's just that we are, we're, you know, we need to focus elsewhere and our pronouns might not get be right. And, you know, like there's, we don't advocate for anyone, like taking that more than they can comfortably by any means, but it's rare. And that makes it like we recognize Yeah. That we're, we're service providers. There's, there's some spaces where you have to just say, great. I'm gonna get misgendered today and then, and I'm still gonna do a bangup job at my job. And then, and then I'll go home and I'll vent to my partner or whatever and I'll get it done. And then, you know, yeah, it's like a fine balance. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And kind of like on that same note of like, just like you were talking about, you know, using moments to like educate and stuff. in preparing for this episode, I saw that post you made, where it reads, if you say your business is inclusive, you need to feature the LGBTQ plus community. And you had like a super awesome thread on that. and I was just hoping you to could like, touch a little bit about that and kind of what inspired that post. Absolutely. I think I get fired up often. I'm so. So often about this. and I try not to, Megan come out and I'll be looking at my phone and Megan will be like, you Okay? And I'll be like, I'm mad I'm fighting with a internet. Yeah. I think that, I think that like, you know, a lot of that comes up, because, I don't know, I feel like especially accounts that have a large amount of followers or even like our amount of followers, whatever, it's, you know, I feel like folks have a certain responsibility to the community that if you're gonna like, say that you're inclusive, and a lot of folks don't say that they're inclusive. Mm-hmm. And so I'm trying to back off on that and just be like, okay, you've, you've like made your bed, you know, you've decided. But if folks are saying they're inclusive, but they're still in their, in their image-based marketing, only promoting like straight bodied, white, cis white, cis heterosexual couples, you're not doing. you're not, you know, you're not doing the community any service. Like you're saying that you're inclusive and maybe also the language in your website is still very much tailored to brides and grooms. Mm-hmm. and Mr. And Mrs. And having those very set gendered labels. recently we started talking about like micro homophobia essentially, or just like making it so, you know, if you're saying that you're inclusive, but queer people are absolutely like invisible on your website or your social media. You know, I always say like, if you have to dig for it, it's not visibility. it's just reinstating the current status quo. You know, they're only adding bricks to the wall that says this is the norm that, you know, this is what wedding we should be celebrating. Yeah. Are our, thin bodied, white, straight folks. And we just want it to be, we want it to be more beautiful than that. We want it to be, actual, actually diverse. You know, that everyone can see themselves in those, in those photos and in, and bigger than photos. Right. Like see themselves as that if they want a future that includes marriage or a wedding or whatever. Yeah. That they, they have examples of that. It just continues to Yeah. Like a affirm that, that queer people don't really exist in the wedding industry. It's so wild to me cuz people are like, well, that's not, like, a lot of comments that you see are like, oh, well that's not normal. Like, these are the normal weddings and there's like the queer weddings and it's just, to me, I'm like, queer people are everywhere. Queer are everywhere. We're everywhere. And if you, you know, maybe like yourself, I don't have any queer people in your, in my life. Maybe you're not making a space that's like safe enough for folks to tell you mm-hmm. Or maybe that's like, that's probably more of a you thing and. You know, when, if, if we can just add a little percentage of queer folks in on Instagram or TikTok or whatever, like, it just, I don't love the word, but it normalizes it. The more you see it, the more it's out there and the more folks choose to like keep hiding those couples or choose other, more like Instagram worthy, popular couples, the more they're contributing to that. And so, I don't know, we just want, and so like I will reach out often to other photographers, wedding magazines, venues, whatever. Which is scary. It is so scary to send those messages. Yeah. And I have tried to like create this message that is truly from my heart and truly from a curiosity standpoint of like, you have said that you're inclusive, but we, you know, we can't see any. any like evidence of that or any examples of that why? and the most common response that we got, we didn't, we got more like no responses. we didn't get any negative responses. a lot of really positive, not a lot, a couple positive kind of came to the light. but the majority of the responses were just like, we haven't worked with couples in the LGBTQ plus community. Like that response we got from an account with like almost a hundred thousand followers. And, and so that's why I made that template of like, or that Instagram post of like, what can we do to like, break away from that? How do we, you know, how do we market towards that community without it being tokenizing? And so for us, like since the start of this business, in order to build my portfolio, I've been doing giveaway sessions every year. And we generally do like three to four, I would say. and just for like, just by doing that kind of cemented the business early on as like, this is an inclusive business. We work with hella people, you know, keep it coming. and so I encourage that for other businesses to offer giveaways and to like stay in the giveaway what their intentions are. And I think when you have the intention of like, we really want the queer people that visit our page or, or whatever to feel welcomed and seen, then it's not tokenizing. I feel like it really is your intention of like, I, I wanna attract more people, I wanna have more diversity in my website. and then for like other vendors that aren't necessarily, like, they don't create their own images like DJs, florist, whatever. you know, some of those, like, we have such a large resource of like billions of stock images. And so I always like, if folks are gonna use stock images already, like diversify your stock images, essentially. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. That's so true. I feel like, yeah, recently I did. I don't know, I feel like I've just been getting like a lot of comments about, you know, people coming up to me and being like, we've come so far, like, you know, the world's so much better now than it was before. And it's like, yes, a hundred percent. Like I agree, we've come far, but at the same time, like you as a straight person telling me that, like don't experience like the same things that like I see happening. And so like, even like I posted a reel the other day where, It was kind of like a little bit of an experiment, like, I'm gonna go on Pinterest and I'm gonna search something generic, like couple pose or like engagement session and scroll until I see something that's not a straight white couple. Mm-hmm. and I scrolled for almost six minutes and like didn't see a single image that was like, I mean, obviously you can never tell for sure, but like from what I could see queer or, yeah. It was bad. So like there's so much work to be done there. which is why I'm so glad that you, you made a post like that. One thing I, I think, one thing that's really helpful to say, maybe to the same straight people that are messaging you that which would maybe make me a little batty, is that straight people never, ever. Have to, you know, like whenever they're looking at a venues website, they never have to wonder, will that venue deny me service because of my orientation. They never go to like, a wedding dress page and say like, will I see myself featured in this? You know? Mm-hmm. like, they never have to like search for themselves in, in representation. It's always there because that's then what the standard was based on. And so now we get to blow that up. Yes. Yeah. That's very true. And speaking of those messages, I also wanted to kind of in that same vein touch on, I know you two have been good about sort of, Finding ways to cope with all of the, the comments and the negativity that come up. so I'm wondering if you could kind of just talk a little bit about how you handle those and also talk a little bit about from your, from a vendor perspective, what kind of responsibility do you feel in, you know, receiving those things when you're with clients or things like, I know sometimes clients will be like, we're kind of like afraid to reach out to some of these vendors cuz we're not sure how they'll respond. Like kind of what you feel like your responsibility is in that realm too. I think, maybe I'll let you speak to the vendor piece, but can I say something about that? Get it. So yes, comment on like Instagram posts and, TikTok reels and or whatever they're called. Gosh, I'm giving myself away. You're doing good. I don't view our social media very much. those comments. So I actually just last smer, I, I didn't actually know how we were processing those if we had a method and I was so relieved and happy to find that Dee was, monitors our comments regularly. So, especially right after a post that we know might be, inflammatory to some angry folks out there, Dee will make sure that anything really hateful is we just delete'em because we do not want anything we're producing to be another, you know, field for a a a mean comments to take place. Mm-hmm. another space for that. So first of all, like I do think that that is due diligence as a business owner, just making sure that if our actual clients or our folks are gonna be looking through our social media, that they won't be actively hurt by comments there. Mm-hmm. So we do delete if they're just super nasty. Mm-hmm. and sometimes we'll take that conversation or like message that person separately if we feel like we can help in some way or educate or something like that. But we will shut those down. and then, yeah, last smer we started doing these love letters to our fans, cause people are, it, it blows my mind that people are sitting behind their computers or at their phones or whatever and putting anger and just ugly shit out into the world. they are wasting their own time. So I actually secretly love that. but yeah, we, like they're taking the time to do it. So we wanna, we're just gonna consider them love letters and and say they something about us got them so riled up, they're taking time out of their own day mm-hmm. to spend time with us. and we kind of find the light and the hor in those when we can. and we also, I guess it's that balance of like finding light where we can, educating where we can and then shutting it down. If it's either too heavy for us or if we think it's gonna negatively impact anyone else, we just shut it down. I also think it's like, especially what you said about that, you know, the straight person messaging you and saying like, we've come so far. Just send them that video the video's, like while some folks live in a bubble, that things are getting better. But that's like, not their lived experience, cuz they're not queer, they're just assing that things are getting better. Things are actually in a lot of ways getting worse. Mm-hmm. you know, especially for, for trans folks, which I, I guess I'm now part of that, that community. But, you know, I think that there are a lot of times when it is too heavy to hold. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm you know, it, I feel like we're just dealing with like, event to event every couple months and trying to recover from that. and so I think that the days that we can make light of it, we try to make funny videos and, you know, not like shame the people that are leaving the comments, but I'm not blurring their names. A little, a little good. yeah. And so. It helps, it helps put more light and space and also like inform folks of like, this is our reality. This is still how it is. and also when folks leave comments on our posts, they're actually increasing our visibility. true, bad. So keep talking. You know, it's like a, it's a bmer and it, it hurts our feelings sometimes, but you're increasing our metrics, so I can't be that mad. I would say couples, yeah. Checking in with us about vendors. We, luckily we haven't had a ton of that, and probably more at the beginning. a lot of our couples, because they're elopement, either have just fewer vendors to deal with than, you know, than full scale weddings. That's one thing. So I'm that mm-hmm. kind of curbs that. but I would say that I, I think, I don't know if I was in that place as a queer person, I, that, that is what I would come out the gate with. And if anyone was, if any vendor that I reached out to, I would say, you know, I'm, I'm a queer. Han. I'm having an, an elopement at a wedding, it's gonna look like this. This is my community, this is importance to me. I would get that right out, out the gate. And then if, if a vendor was not extremely responsive and stoked about that, I would not give them any of my money. so I think, and I think that if a client came to us and said like, this is feeling really hard than I would either offer to, like, maybe we would have the capacity to do some of that for them, or we could always work with them on, you know, sharing the vendor list that we do have and, and mm-hmm. or even connecting with past couples who might have ideas. Like there's, I think, I think it's rare that our clients feel that, but it, when, and if they do, I certainly hope that they let us know so we can kind of come to bat for them. and I, I guess if there are, if there's any folks listening who are in that, in that space, like you deserve to have everything you want on that day. Mm-hmm. So don't settle, like talk to. talk to your queers and find out where the resources are or, or build it yourself. You know, I think, we, you deserve to have everything you want and, and, and your people or yourself, you can show up for yourself and make that happen. I think, in most, in most regards. Or talk to your photographer cause they're a good resource. Yeah, yeah. We, you know, we'll sometimes like if a couple is like, we can't find this vendor, you know, can you do a little search? I'll like post on my Instagram story and try to connect actively with like, new vendors that I maybe don't know. And I'll like ask them a few questions to vet them and make sure they're inclusive. I have a funny story really quick. I, at the camera stores getting some film developed and I connected with another person who was also a photographer. They run a videography company and we were chatting and, and I was like, and he, he was like, oh, we'll send you a lot of business. Like, we'll connect. And I was like, sweet. Like, is your business inclusive? And he was like, yeah, we like totally cover travel fees. And I was like, alright. Okay, Yeah. If you're so unaware that you think inclusivity means we're talking about travel fees, I was like, this, this is not gonna work. This ain't gonna work. Might be, we're probably not gonna do a lot of collaboration. Don't you know? Oh my gosh. Oh wow. Oh my goodness. Meg, that line you said, just like it should be like so simple and understood, but like, people deserving to like, have everything on that day. I don't know. I just like made me tear up. Like, I just want everybody to know that. Yeah. And, and while that's true, I also know that like, that's my righteous self saying that and it's fucking scary and it should not be, and mm-hmm. so I also have all the empathy for that and I just mm-hmm. there's also like limitations with travel and financial limitations and like what is accessible to you in your area, like, Yeah. So, yes, not to, I, I wanna, I wanna say I'm mindful of all those challenges and, and the wedding industry should be a place where you should be able to get everything you've, you want, you know? Yeah. And if it feels challenging, you are not the problem. This Yeah. This, you know, archetype, this terrible, patriarchal thing that we are still Yeah. trying to tear down and rebuild is the problem. It's never, it's never the queer folks who can't find what they need. Yeah. yeah. I don't, I don't love making blanket statements, but like, the people that are leaving the shitty negative comments are wrong, and the vendors that are not providing accessible and inclusive spaces are wrong. Well, so we hate making those statements, but here are the statements, but here are my statements. The other folks, Yeah. No, I, yeah, I agree with all of that. yeah. And like, what would you, I mean, I think. I think easily just from listening to you to speak and hearing like your passion kind of answers a lot of it, but like, what would you say keeps you coming back when, when things feel tough or heavy or, you're getting a little angsty, maybe? Honestly, like our clients, it, it's like, you know, it's a constantly moving business, so we're off, you know, we'll receive emails, for inquiries and Instagram messages and, you know, whenever it feels dark and hopeless, which it doesn't feel like that very, very often at all, but when it feels like, you know, the weight of lack of inclusivity and homophobia and all of those things, you know, we'll get a sweet message from a couple. They'll be like, oh my God, we left feeling like we were your best friends. Or like, mm-hmm. I'll get a message from someone like you that's like, you know, you know, I like the work that you're doing and I wanna like chat with you on my podcast. Like, you know, it just, it, there's always more curiosity and there's a lot of positivity that's sent to us often. And so I think that mm-hmm. it, it never, you know, we never get brought down for too long. because there's just so many people that are like in our corner, I feel like rooting for us. yeah. I think that there's like two wells that we could always pull more energy from. you know, one is our clients, like you're saying, like mm-hmm. those incredible folks that we've gotten to work with, and that we have so much data that what we're doing matters and that people feel held and that their, you know, their day is more of what they wanted because we were there, which is like, that could be all we ever did. And that would be perfect. That'd be so, and then there's the second well, which is, we can look at the, like you said, we could scan pictures and look for a queer couple of color and not find them, and that would, that would make us so irate that we would, or we've gotta get more, you know, more visibility out there. so I, I, yeah. I think that sometimes where we end up kind of digging into is the, is the, the visibility side is the, like, political side that we want to, fueled by opposition, that's, that's right. Like, and then also like fueled by positivity and love and encouragement. Yeah. Thanks. A little bit of both in both of those sides. That's such a perfect balance. I, I think you kind of need both of those in your business. Like the joy and the like passion slash rage to like Yeah. Yeah. The good moments and then the moments that are like, oh, we're not there yet. There's so much more work to do. We, you better get back to work. Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Wow. Yeah. I love that. so I think this is like one of my favorite questions to ask guests because everybody is just so beautiful and think so differently. and a lot of why I started this podcast was trying to sort of queer the wedding space a little bit more. So if I were to ask you why you think every wedding should be a little bit queer, what would you say? I don't know. I think that goes back to like, what does queer mean? And I think to me sometimes queer just means like an open hand and like a lot of different possibilities and not holding anything too tightly. Mm-hmm. queer is just. where your wedding day is, not about how much it costs or, you know, appeasing all of your family and friends where it's about like the love that you feel in front of your partner and like the, the bravery that it takes to like, say exactly how you feel about them with your entire, like, with your community there. Mm-hmm. mm-hmm. Yeah. Queer is so many things, but I think that having every wedding be a little queer means that just every wedding is like a little bit more like loosey-goosey and flexible and can be many different things for everyone. Yeah. I, I would, I think similarly I would say like it's, if a wedding was a little bit queer, I would see it as being like really authentic and really capturing the essence of the two people, or maybe more than two people. Maybe it's a throuple or Quadra, I forget. I don't know all these. That's good. okay. Yeah. Just being more, just being completely authentic. Like maybe, maybe you actually hate the thought of saying any vows and that's not your thing. Great. Scrap it. Private vows being no vows. Being queer is about, is about being Yeah. Your, your most real self and, cues. Yeah. So I think that, I think that every wedding should be that. I think that couples or, you know, whoever's getting married should feel really, emboldened to make a day that like is just their best day. Mm. You know, maybe it just means they're gonna, they're gonna play vo, they're gonna have a volleyball tournament and whoever wins is gonna officiate their ceremony. I don't know, like Sure. Do that, that sounds Can you do that? That sounds great. just, yeah. I think it's that authenticity. Just make it really for you, imagine that day first and then if changes have to be made to accommodate others, maybe that has to happen, but make it what you want and mm-hmm. and, I can't imagine that going wrong. Really? You know, unless there's injuries on the volleyball court. Well, yeah, it's probably when you Oh my gosh, that is so awesome. I love that. See, that's why I love like asking people, cuz like I love that. Probably ask that question like 10 times and everybody has different answers and it's just like, yeah, I think we can all, I'll be working on making weddings a little bit more queer, so Oh, okay. Well I have a few just like fun little lightning round questions to kind of end with some fun. But before that, I wanna make sure people know where they can connect with you or find you. So where can people find you on the internet? great on Instagram, river and River. It's just at River and Root. and our website is river n route photography.com. It's a mouthful, but I don't wanna change the jp menu. and we're also on TikTok at River N Route. And I also, this might be rude, I don't wanna be rude. You had a question and your thing that was like, what is something that you wanna tell every wedding vendor? I thought about that, but it's true. Please. And that is, if you, see inclusivity, but do not think of it as your responsibility to incorporate that in your business yet you're already behind. ideally, in my mind, things are gonna eventually, you know, eventually change to where we never asse pronouns and we never asse roles and we, you know, just like ask more questions and are more curiosity based. But I think that the best thing that any wedding vendor can do for their business immediately is to just. make their website gender neutral. ask for pronouns, ask more questions about relation, I mean relationship dynamics if needed, but just, have an inclusive business and walk the walk. Mm-hmm. I think mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. is the most important thing because, you know, eventually we're gonna get to a time in which it's hopefully frowned upon and embarrassing to not have an inclusive business. We're not there yet. People are still weirded out by pronouns, which, whatever. but I think that's what I would say. If you're not there yet, you're behind. Get your, get your, button gear. Mm-hmm. you can swear it's okay, but yes. Thank you. I don't swear ever. Oh, okay. No, that's not true. Your ass a year And if you don't do that, look for resources and be willing to, pay. Mm-hmm. other folks for that labor. Mm-hmm. we get a lot of like little messages that are like, what can we do? What can we do? And so we try to make reels and posts that are really informative so that folks don't need to be like, tapping into our emotional labor all the time. But if you wanna make business inclusive, do the work, pay the right folks. Be better. Mm-hmm. Okay. Lining round. We're ready. no. Thank you so much for sharing that. I am, I really appreciate that. That might be like the headline for the podcast. awesome. Mm-hmm. Perfect. All right. Are you two ready? We're ready. We're ready. Okay. Favorite dessert pies? Any specific kind of pie? Okay, if I'm going in order, it's obviously apple pie, blueberry pie, peach pie, cherry pie, lemon meringue pie, banana cream pie, and like a chocolate cream pie all the way at the bottom. Yeah. Didn't you know there were that many kind pie? Well, I can talk about pie all day long. Boys and berry pie. Lincoln, very fine. Flossy. Ooh, wow. Cut you. I think like anything that has peanut butter and chocolate, just love that combo. Classic peanut butter and chocolate. I understood Okay. Pie? Yes. okay. Favorite elopement you've done or. either the al itself or like a favorite spot that you've done. Obviously not exact location, but mine is actually really easy and it was an ELO that I did in 2019, I believe, at the Sand Dunes in Colorado, which is really beautiful. it was with, it was my first elopement and it was with a queer couple and I did not know my ass from my elbow. And, it was April and Colorado and we just like, you know, like there was a higher power that was taking care of us that day because the snowstorm came a day later and it was like 60 degrees and a sunny. There was no wind on the dunes. We got a sunset and a moon rise at the same time. It was like honestly the most perfect day. And that was just by like happenstance and not by skillset or experience or resources. I learned a lot that day and it went really well and I'm like still pals with those, with that couple and. Follow each other pretty closely, which is so lovely. That's awesome. One of my favorites is, an elopement we did last smer in URE in Colorado, which is just a beautiful mountain town. And it was a couple that Dee had been talking to for two years because they were coming from Canada and then Cresta Butte, sorry, crest Butte. but they were coming from Canada and then Covid happened. And so Dee had this whole two year relationship via email and call with this couple mm-hmm. And we finally got to meet them and it was like meeting family or something. Yeah. It was so wonderful. And within like the first five minutes of the elopement, I am gonna talk about it. Our, our bride, need help with her dress. With her dress in kind of an intimate way. So we're just out on this road, on this mountain path, and I'm just fully cupping this gorgeous bride's breasts. so we can get the dress resituated. And I was like, this is what it is, essentially. I mean, I was not in a weird way. No, not weird at all. but I thought again, like just that intimacy that like funny, like let's make this awesome, whatever it takes. that kind of like adventure elopement. Yeah. is so funny. We ended the night like eating pizza and, in the bottom of this really cool place, it like secret basement of this restaurant. That was really cool. And it was a, it was just one of those days where they were like fully in their element. They had a beautiful moment. Mm-hmm. And we just got to be there to witness it. Mm-hmm. it was just like one of those days where you feel so rich for, for what you get to do. Mm-hmm. Not just because I got to. Weird My gosh. I can see why that would be hard to, forget. We're gonna It's hard. Hard. Yeah. You can not in a weird way, just in a vulnerable, getting to support. That's all. All right. I think this will be our last one. Do you remember who or what your gay awakening was? You do, you wrote down a bunch of different actresses names and I was like, I didn't know that. Romancing the stone. Okay. what's yours? mine was Grey's Anatomy. that was like the first, at least for me, major, major TV show that was like watched by the masses that had. queer visibility in it. Mm-hmm. and kind of when that character had their queer awakening, I was like, oh, I want that. And then that was it. and obviously like, you know, there were ups and downs with family and all the, the nonsense that you have to go through when explaining who exactly you are, but, Grey's Anatomy, anatomy than it's, and, and I mean, good for them. They're, they're still running now. I don't know how they're good. Good for them and yours. I do like, now that I am deeply queer, I can see roots, I can see back to like, yes, Kathleen Turner in Ing The Stone or Roots. River and Roots, if you would. Yeah. or, or, Jamie Lee Curtis hanging off the bottom of a helicopter in True Lies starting Arnold Schwarzenegger. But really it was like when I'm 22 and met my first out. Deeply authentic queer person who I fell in love with. it was getting to see someone who was just living so according to their own rules, that, that made me realize I wanted to live differently. And so thanks for all the out queer folks who are living proudly that get, get. Yeah. Yeah. Wow. That's a major encouragement for us all to, to go live more like that today, I feel. Yeah. We have, if you have the space or the ability that access. Access to be able to do that. Mm-hmm. living out loud is so important. Yeah. What about you? What's your route? Yeah, we got it. We got enough. We were just really vulnerable, so. Yeah. Well, I mean, Grey's Anatomy, I totally, my girlfriend's big into it, so she told me that little fact too. my gay awakening. I don't know if I like fully knew at the time. I do remember like thinking SHEO from Kim Possible was like super cool. Absolutely. Yeah. yeah, I don't know. That's all that comes to mind really. Excellent. Yeah. Totally understand with you on that one. Thank you. Thank you. Like watching recess and like Spinelli, who is like very, I feel like a pretty androgynous, androgynous character in that show and I was like, oh, I wanted to look like that person. Mm-hmm. That's why I like that person. Mm-hmm. I understand. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's so interesting like being an adult now and. Now going back and being like, oh, that's what was happening. Okay. We had to, we, I mean I feel like a lot of us, identified queerness in like really unique ways. Like who knows if, if they anticipated that character to be queer, but like maybe the voice was a little lower or the ha Yeah. They didn't wear makeup. Whatever. It was like we were all, we're all looking for signs of seeing ourselves. Yeah. Even if they didn't intend, we see the queer. Mm-hmm. Very true. Very true. Well, Dee and Meg, thank you so much for, for hopping on. This was like, this was just so much fun and I am like crossing my fingers that one day our paths will cross. so thank you truly for, for being vulnerable and for sharing the good things and the vulnerable things. I really appreciate you both. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh, this was super duper fun. Mm-hmm. thanks for inviting us. Yeah. And thanks for doing this. Thanks for putting this clearly, beloved. Mm-hmm. out into the world. Great name by the way. Best fucking name. Great name, great name. Thank you. Thank you so much.