Frank and Joel's PFO Engagement Session

Photographers for Orlando is a fundraising collective of photographers from all over the world that are donating sessions, pro bono to LGBTQ members and their allies in exchange for donations to victims of the Pulse Orlando massacre. We support OneOrlando.org and gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund If you haven't read about it yet, you can check out our website at www.photographersfororlando.org

Through my original Queer Exchange NYC post on Facebook, I connected with Frank and Joel, a newly engaged couple from Manhattan. Frank was one of the first to message me expressing interest and gratitude in my offer to pay-it-forward to members of the LGBTQ community. We exchanged plans to meet up last Saturday, and much to my delight, he and Joel donated to each of the charities that PFO supports. 

When we met at a coffee shop near the Highline, the first thing I noticed were the garment bags. It turns out that Frank is a lead visual merchandiser for Neiman Marcus as well as a venue manager for Mens Fashion Week. Already impeccably dressed, I was thrilled to see what options he supplied for our session. 

Upon meeting Joel, I was struck by his cool demeanor and put togetherness. Joel is an accomplished musical theater composer in his own right. Together, these two are a powerhouse of creativity. 

As we discussed their relationship, I learned that they became engaged abroad in Paris while they traveled for Joel's participation in a concert for Broadway Au Carré. Joel told me that he knew he wanted to propose to Frank in Paris, and brought rings with him. Intuitive, he decided to wait to see if the moment arose. While Joel worked at the event, Frank explored the city. One evening, when they reunited, Frank expressed his excitement over finding Coco Chanel's apartment. Sensing the moment, Joel encouraged Frank to bring him there. Upon their arrival, Joel found himself proposing, dropping to the ground in front of the apartment. 

What struck me the most about these two was their ability to be so totally in sync. Whether they were goofing off or posing in the most perfect way, they were on the same page. I know that their life together will be full of beauty, creativity, and most of all, tremendous love. 

If you are interested in following either of them, both are active in their fields on social media. You can find Frank and his mens style feed on tumblr at ManYourFashion, Instagram at ManYourStyle and Twitter at Man_Your_Style
To hear his music and more, please visit www.joelbnew.com




First Photographers for Orlando Session - B&C

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.