To preface this post, I need to explain what Photographers for Orlando is. If you haven't already visited our website, or heard about it online, it is a fundraising movement in the portrait photography world. PFO members are donating their skills pro-bono, in trade for donations that support the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. We support OneOrlando.org as well as Equality Florida's GoFundMe campaign. Currently, we are a collective of over 120+ photographers, from over 30 states, and 5 countries. Our mission is simple, to fundraise for the victims in Orlando, while supporting our LGBTQ* friends and allies.
On Tuesday June 14th, I was depressed, frustrated about the events in Orlando days earlier, angry that assault weapons were easily accessible to someone the FBI had been keeping tabs on. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I noticed an outcry from my queer friends. They were asking for support, voicing their fear and emotions. I immediately wrote to a handful of my friends, letting them know I had been thinking of them. As I checked in with people, I felt the urge to do something in honor of them and the LGBTQ* community. I decided to offer my services to LGBTQ* members in my local Queer Exchange Facebook group, free of charge. The next morning, I woke up to a ton of support, inquiries, and interest. It was here that Photographers for Orlando was born.
One of the first emails I received was from a young woman named Bailey. She expressed interest in having me photograph her and her girlfriend of 5 years, Cassy. On Saturday, while photographers from around the world added their names to the spreadsheet that would lead to our database, I was meeting with Bailey and Cassy in my Brooklyn neighborhood.
As they approached, I noticed they were smiling and holding hands. They looked so content and confident as they crossed the street to the cafe where I waited for them. We talked about how the two met at college, their professions (both teachers!) and how they've felt in the wake of what happened in Florida. Cassy was raised in the neighborhood, Bailey moved to the East Coast more recently. They met at school in Chicago, about half way between where they both grew up. I was impressed by them both individually and as a couple. We set to work.
We started out walking along Prospect Park West, heading north. We detoured to Cassy's childhood block, and continued on to Grand Army Plaza. Stopping at the fountain, the ladies noticed a beautiful rainbow refracting from the water; they celebrated. Finally we stopped at Brooklyn Public Library's main branch. Cassy and Bailey cozied up and were clearly very comfortable among books. Before we said goodbye, big hugs happened and new friendships made.