What picture comes to mind when you think of love? For many people, thoughts of iconic romance conjure up images of heterosexual couples.
Pro photographer Braden Summers set out to challenge the status quo with his photography project ALL LOVE IS EQUAL. Summers’ Kickstarter-funded project features chic same-sex couples photographed around the world in everyday, touching moments. The photography is both striking and surreal, depicting a world where homosexuality is open and accepted throughout vastly different cultures.
I had the chance to interview Summers about his photography and the making of ALL LOVE IS EQUAL. Read on for the interview along with a selection of images from the collection:
Hillary Fox: How did you get started in photography?
Branden Summers: I studied photography at the Academy of Art University from 2004-2008.
Fox: Tell me about the ALL LOVE IS EQUAL project.
What inspired you?
Summers: The ALL LOVE IS EQUAL project began while I was in Paris. I was shooting lots of romantic imagery when my boyfriend had suggested that I shoot a gay version. The resulting image of two men on a London bridge sparked the idea to shoot a whole series of these “iconic” photographs in different cultures worldwide.
Fox: How did you get the project off the ground?
Summers: I raised all of the funds for the campaign via the crowd-funding site Kickstarter. I reached out to organizations all over the U.S. The Advocate offered to feature the Kickstarter project on the front page of their site and the campaign basically went viral and I was able to raise all of the funds.
Fox: You traveled through six countries to shoot this project. What is your secret to coordinating so many on-location shoots?
Summers: My secret is my trusted friend and brilliant producer Greg Jaroszewski. He was an irreplaceable asset who accompanied me on my trip to help make all of the pieces come together and my work come to fruition. We both have traveled extensively in the past, so that helped a lot in terms of knowing what to expect when exploring foreign lands.
To be honest, between the two of us we had a lot of friends, or friends of friends in each of the different cities we traveled to who were able to better connect us to the industry wherever we went.
Fox: What was your most memorable shoot from this project?
Summers: The Indian elephant shoot. It took so much effort to get all of the elements in place. Greg and I were only in Mumbai for 5 days and we were trying to produce this image and the lesbian wedding. While we were shooting (during monsoon season) we were praying that it wouldn’t rain.
I was on the second story of a building in construction praying that I wouldn’t trip and fall, there amassed a crowd of onlookers from the street to see what was going on and to see why 2 men were cuddling on top of an elephant. I was trying to tell my producer to direct the fruit vendors, while telling the elephant trainer to move the elephant about 30 degrees to the right. The models were happy to help, but noticeably uncomfortable, and the bed on top of the elephant nearly slid off a couple of times.
It was chaos, Greg really was a star and made everything go seamlessly, but the whole time I felt this sense of wonder for my world around me – and also wondering “is this real?” On top of that, I am really happy with the final shot and so ecstatic that all of the pieces somehow came together in the end.
Fox: What’s next for the project?
Summers: I have high ambitions for the next steps in the project’s development. I would love to continue shooting in Mexico, different countries in Asia, and also incorporate transgender people into the new imagery. In terms of showcasing the work, the goal would be to have a public exhibition where everyone (and not just gallery-goers) can view the images, possibly in city centers around the world!
Other powerful platforms would be to have the work shown on Ellen DeGeneres’s program and develop a partnership with corporations whose reputations have been damaged by antigay associations, or simply companies who have an interest in promoting love equality!
Fox: Do you have any tips for photographers who are looking to launch their own Kickstarter project?
Summers: Spend lots of time on the video. I wrote and rewrote the script for the video for weeks before I felt confident that the video would inspire others to donate.
Fox: What advice would you give to a photographer taking on a project this big?
Summers: Wow. That’s a tough question. I would say be incredibly passionate about what you are about to take on, and confident that the work has meaning. If you let any of the doubt or fear take over while you’re in the middle of it, the work will suffer.
It took a lot of focus and commitment to not give up when there were COUNTLESS obstacles every step of the way, thankfully Greg and I also encountered one helping hand for every 50 people that shot us down when asked for assistance. So I would also say don’t be afraid to get turned down, it’s better to ask for help – projects like this one take more than a village!
Big thanks to Braden Summers for sharing his project with us. You can follow more of his work at bradensummers.com and follow his Facebook page.