John M. Becker

Gay Alaskan Photographers Celebrate Same-Sex Couples

Filed By John M. Becker | December 15, 2014 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Alaska, gay marriage, marriage equality, Mitch Kitter, photography, photography book, same-sex marriage, Shalem Kitter

mitch-shalem-kitter.jpgThe holidays are a season when we celebrate love and family, and Mitch and Shalem Kitter -- a pair of incredibly talented photographers from Alaska -- are spending part of their holiday season celebrating the love of committed same-sex couples and families across the South.

The Kitters are making the trip as part of the Love is Love project, which they launched in summer 2012 to spotlight same-sex couples in their home state and show that same-sex couples are every bit as loving, beautiful, and worthy of respect as opposite-sex couples.

Shalem and Mitch told Freedom to Marry's Adam Polaski about the inspiration for the project:

More than two years ago, a young woman was having head shots taken at Treft.Punkt, a photography studio in Anchorage, Alaska. During her shoot, she asked the photographer, Shalem Matthew, about his wedding engagement shoots.

"Do you photograph all kinds of people?" she asked.

Shalem was a bit confused. "I think we do," he started. "What do you mean 'all kinds of people'?"

"Like, do you photograph all kinds of couples?," she clarified. "Like, an engagement with two women." She explained that she had approached two other local photographers, and they turned her and her girlfriend down.

Shalem smiled, nodded: "Of course." The young woman had come to the perfect studio: Shalem owned Propaganda AK with his partner, Mitch Kitter.

The experience lit a spark for Shalem and Mitch, who found it disheartening that same-sex couples like the young woman were denied by photographers and told that their love is not worth documenting.

And so "Love is Love" was born. More details, after the break.

The response from Alaskans was overwhelming: more than 760 people turned out at the project's gallery opening, which featured images and stories of 28 LGBT couples and families living in the state. And it caught the attention of Lisa Murkowski, Alaska's Republican U.S. senator, who sent Mitch and Shalem a note commending them for their work after she endorsed marriage equality in 2013.

The couple -- who were legally married this summer in California -- decided to take the Love is Love project national, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, they completed the first part of their journey, photographing couples across the Midwest. Today, they set off on the second leg, which will take them through the South, from Texas to South Carolina to Tennessee.

Shalem and Mitch hope to photograph couples in the remaining states by summer 2015, and compile the images and personal stories they've collected into a photography book.

Michael and I had the pleasure of meeting Shalem and Mitch this fall here in D.C. They're wonderfully kind and incredibly talented guys (and a seriously adorable couple themselves!), and we're so honored to be included in their Love is Love project. A selection of images from the project, including some from our photo shoot, are below (click to enlarge)

If you'd like to be considered for the Love is Love project, click here to send Shalem and Mitch your story.

John & Michael - Washington, D.C. loveislove-1.jpg

loveislove-3.jpg

loveislove-4.jpg

Fabiola & Samantha - Oklahoma City, OK

loveislove-2.jpg

Courtney & Mia - Wichita, KS

loveislove-5.jpg

Alexandre & Hollis - Albuquerque, NM

loveislove-6.jpg

Brandon & Weston - Salt Lake City, UT

loveislove-7.jpg

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