'Love Wins': A Brilliant Photo Project Redefining the Way We See LGBTQ Marriage


When I first saw the Love Wins project, I was moved by the beauty of the photographs and the important message that they represent. As a society, we have come a long way since Stonewall and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, but there are still so many people in the world who have misconceptions and hatred of LGBTQ people. The Love Wins project is a series of portraits and stories that aim to bring consistent visibility to LGBTQ marriage in a positive light. Its entire premise is to showcase love, family, and equality. I had the opportunity to sit down with Gia Goodrich, the Portland, Oregon based photographer behind the photo project and find out what inspired her to create this collection of photos.

Last year, the United States Supreme Court made a ruling on same-sex marriage that changed millions of people's lives. After decades of fighting for equal marriage rights, same-sex couples in the United States could now legally be married to each other.

It was just such an amazing day, because I remember growing up thinking that there might not be a day when gay people could get married. Even in 2010, I was dating someone in the military, and I used to have to go to functions as her sister. It's amazing to me how much has changed in only five years. So, I really wanted to celebrate using my “superpower” as a photographer by giving couples this gift that I thought could be amazing. Then, my artistic practice kicked in, which has always been about exploring the archive and telling very specific stories in a collection to see how they speak to our culture, human behavior, and humanity.

The photos on their own are beautiful and evocative, showcasing Gia's incredible skill and artistry as a photographer. More than that, they represent a very powerful message. Gia explains how she uses photography as a mirror to reflect what's going on in our world. Photography, like pop culture, has the power to shape the way we think about and view certain subject matter.  It tells us what's good, what's normal, and what's healthy. The problem with not being visible in this culture is that you aren't being affirmed in your identity, and you don't know that you're ok or if your relationships are healthy. Gia's goal for this project is to put images out there that can affirm people's existence and identities and help change cultural attitudes for the better.

By putting my work out into the world, I can create those moments where others can see themselves. Coming from someone who's gay, brown, and a woman (and a diva and fabulous), I didn't see a lot of people like me while I was growing up. It's hard to get a sense of being secure and confident with the absence of your physicality around you.  

I was curious to learn about some of Gia's creative process for each shoot. She has an undeniable talent for pulling out a soulfulness in her subjects and building a connection with them. Before each photo shoot, Gia interviews the couples and families in front of the camera in order to hear and document their stories and to get them comfortable being in front of the lens. 

I'm always hopeful to capture some degree of authenticity, in terms of how they're feeling and where they're at in their lives. I really want them to talk about their life experiences, and the results of that are shown with the final images. I think it's important to give them that voice.

You can keep up with this project by following the Love Wins Portraits Facebook page, and if you're interested in supporting it, check out their Kickstarter. You can also see more of Gia's incredible work on her website.

All images used with permission of Gia Goodrich.

Dan Ostergren's picture

Dan Ostergren is a photographer and retoucher based in the United States, specializing in portrait, beauty and fashion photography.

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I think this is a great series showing how photography and film are being used as propaganda tools to further this destructive agenda. It's a testament to how the medium can be used to further political gain. Next time post your shots without the politically charged text. Just not interested in commenting on your photos, if I need to wade through the hate cloaked in "love" message.

Thanks for commenting. :)

This is exactly what photography and video was intended for. If you feel you have something to say, then by all means say it in a photo. It is easy to say what you would or wouldn't do with photography when you have done nothing at all.

Everyone come quick! We found the worst person on the internet!

Everyone's entitled to an opinion, even the wrong one. So assuming you're pro "traditional marriage" is it okay to adjust the number of cattle a man pays to purchase a wife due to inflation? -_-

By whose definition? Marriage is a man made thing. It doesn't have a transcendent meaning. I will agree with you on the hurting the west front, internet mob justice is brutal and often goes way overboard.

I'm ready to go back to enjoying Fstoppers as a photography blog, not a human rights one. It's always amazing to meet people who think it's their duty to tell other people how to live their lives. Cheers, Pete.

Thanks for your comments Mark - see my response below.

A few flaws in your rebuttal of other's replies to yourself.

These images aren't Dan's, this is an article by Dan about a project by another photographer about the LGBT community.

"destructive agenda", thats what you called it in your initial comment on the article. Those words right there are enough to earn the scorn & ire of other members.

The text that you're seeing in these photos are not that of the photographer, they are those of the subjects within the photos. I've been part of similar projects, on both sides of the camera. It is a beneficial endeavour for all involved.

So, I'm sorry, but it appears that 1) you've missed the point of the project & 2) you didn't fully read the article, most likely glossed over, focused on the imagery & came to the wrong conclusion.

Do you not understand what I said?

My comments were intentional - to respond to the text - not the photos, to make a point. The text was politically charged, and so were my words. It doesn't matter if the text is the work of the photographer or not - it's best to post your photos, if you're really seeking photo critique, without the text. If you don't, you seem disingenuous in your request for photo critique, and it looks like you're posting advertisements with an agenda.

If there had been no text, and I responded to just the images that way, you'd have a point. But I clearly called out the text in the photos as the issue.

Thanks Pete. I appreciate your comments.

and your opinion matters? all its showing is that you are bigoted, is that what you want to show the internet you are so proud about? may as well go run down the street and scream anti gay.

Wonderful photos at a crucial in American cultural history. Great highlight.

Unlike a photograph series posted a few weeks back that featured actors portraying LGBTO families, this one features the real deal. The images are excellent. What I like best that the images don't have the familiar "portrait couples poses" that is so widely used. The poses are very real and natural looking.

I loved that series as well!

These photos are beautiful, but so is the rest of Gia's work. Definitely worth checking out.

Though I strongly disagree with the LGBT movement, the quality of the photograph and the lighting used is excellent. Photography, next to cinematography, is by far the best way to communicate a message today. Agreeing or disagreeing with the theme and message of these pictures aside, they are great photographs.

What's there to disagree with?

I have my opinions and moral beliefs. I just disagree with them. The pictures on the other hand are testaments to what good lighting and camera technique can achieve!

Funny nowadays that if you say something wrong about LGBT or simply don't like the idea of the whole thing - people will bombard you like you are not entitled to have an opinion.

I myself don't support this trend of LGBT, not against it, but just don't want to support it.

great to hear that you strongly oppose lgbt, what in your small brain made you think of posting that on an lgbt post? just to be a bully? i don't think your opinion matters or helps the message of the story being portrayed.

I disagree with the story being portrayed. Simple as that. Just because I strongly disagree with something doesn't make me a bully or anyone else.

Gotcha Justin - opinions don't matter to you unless you agree with them, and if you don't agree, the person you don't agree with is necessarily a bully, and has a "small brain." How arrogant can a person get? I don't think a comment could get any more "small minded" than yours. You're "tolerant" as long as you like the message. Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender supporters like you have been "outed" as masquerading bullies yourselves - who claim to be tolerant, but are really the most intolerant in society. No, you're really a Communist Justin, pretending to be "open minded" as your brains fall out on the table. You're so thick you can't see you've become what you profess to hate. In other words you're a phony. Mao was a communist like you Justin James, and he killed 45 million people in 4 years who didn't agree with him using your same argument. How does it feel to be a liar, and a true hater yourself? It's not a very far leap from where you are, to where Mao ended up. Allow people to have their own opinions Justin, without feeling the need to berate them and beat them up with your personal views. I posted my comments on the photos because opinions on them were requested. I didn't' ask for your opinion on my comment.

These are beautiful.

Thanks for commenting. :)

I have to disagree. Just my taste. The images are vivid but not too harsh. Any skin retouching was tastefully done and not heavy handed. My favorite is of the two gentleman (pic 5 on the thumbnail square). The composition and pose are striking and very "male" (FLOABT). Great composition for two married men, father-son, etc. Just an overall striking portrait.

Thumbs up!

Once again, the comment section shows the ignorance and bigotry in this industry. I am truly ashamed.

nice to see the writer is not ignorant or a bigot, but Mr Baker seems to be a bit judgemental....I thought that's what those right wing nuts did, guess I was mistaken

Here's the issue, and I was waiting for responses before stating this. My comments had nothing to do with my position on same-sex marriage, homosexuality, or any other social constructs. My comments were directed toward what was achieved by posting not just photos (which is what this site is all about) but photos with politically charged commentary that took my eye away from the shots, and what value the text in the photos brought to the appeal for photo critique. I appreciate that people have their opinions - we all have them. All I was suggesting is that if you're looking for a photo critique, it would be best to leave off the text commentary. The boiler plate added nothing to his photos - which were quite good on their own. It turned his shots into ads, not photos for critique.

Look - the whole idea behind photography is expression with images. Let your photos speak for themselves. I personally think the images are extremely powerful on their own. I'm suspect that if I would have posted photos here of a Klan rally or KKK members in ominous robes and hoods, along with text beside them extolling the virtues of racism, no matter how good my photos were they would be ignored in favor of discussing the message of the text. That's not the point of a photo blog such as this one.

If you can't see my point, then so be it. I appreciate the photography, and I think it's quite good. Unfortunately many here decided to discuss my comment rather than the photos, which proves my point - and is unfortunate, as those comments did no good for the photographer.

Cheers to those here who held their comments to photo critique only.

My take is that I do not agree with probably 75% of the musicians I listen to, 75% of actors I watch, etc. However, I prefer to let the work speak for itself. Ansel Adams was very environmentally motivated. Adams work is stunning no matter how one feels. The images above are just fantastic.

Just like you or me, artist have a right to express their concerns thru their work. If the above series was on "churches in America" , many non religious people would still admire the work.

Two types of people that bug me (I am not saying you fall into either). People who are offended at EVERYTHING for the sake of being offended and the It's always black and white" people. You have both in every demographic imaginable.

No one was saying the artist doesn't have a right to express her concerns, but there are better venues than Fstoppers to do that with ads, and other sites that critique advertisements.

Why weren't just the photos without text presented if photo critique alone was the goal? I stated I liked the photos, but some of them were ruined for me as I couldn't get past the text. It really didn't matter what the text was saying, the images suffered because of the text with regard to photo critique. That's not to say they didn't work as advertisements, but I believe Fstoppers is for critiquing photos, not ad campaigns.

Your comments, even though you say "I'm not saying you fall into either" are clearly directed at me. You have every right to disagree with my points, but I hope that this website doesn't degrade into a political blog. If you want to know what bugs me (and I'm not saying this is directed to you) it's that some people just can't bring themselves to be against anything. In some people's world - everyone is a winner, and everyone is right, and anyone with a dissenting voice is a bigot or a racist. I think that's just rubbish, and it's only the weak minded that allow themselves to be maneuvered into thinking those with different opinions are necessarily bad people. Try not to let your war against the offended blind you.

There are plenty of images included without text. Feel free to give some constructive critique if that is what you want to do. :)

I'm sorry you didn't like the direction I went with this article, Mike. I really appreciate your feedback though, and please don't ever hesitate to tell me exactly what you think of anything I share on Fstoppers; I welcome your opinions.

Also I noticed that you used the term "his photos" when referring to the images in this series, and I thought perhaps you may have misunderstood and believed that I was the photographer. I just want to express that I am not the photographer, and I deserve no credit for these photos. I do mention the photographer multiple times throughout the article though, and if you appreciate the photos, I highly encourage you to look at the rest of her work; it's quite good.

This book from my perception is an ill advised "one theme" book For $25K a lot of bucks for an "culture theme" that has gotten boring, I see she is way short as of today with 15 days left. Give the money to the impoverished or save her own money if she that committed to the "cause". Lovely photos, wow, Wish I could shoot like her.

I love how painterly these photos are, the skin tones are wonderful and the best part is the message behind them. Thanks for sharing your voice and for this post!

I really like the simple background here - anyone know what it is...

The photographer, Gia Goodrich, would be the one to ask.

I'm afraid I have to agree with Mike on this. "Love Wins" is kind of an arbitrary statement. In reality, if "love wins" then it's only certain types of 'love' - the types officially sanctioned by the State. eg, what about polygamous marriages? Aren't all three (or more) really in love? Or the love between one or more underage persons? Or between siblings who have fallen in love.

Marriage has always been between a man and a woman, or rather, the joining of a man and a woman for life has always been called marriage. Man didn't invent it; you could say that it is the natural, organic outgrowth of the complementary relationship between man, woman, and child. I think marriage shows us what it is; we can't tell it what it should be. It is just plain to see. Man didn't invent the color blue, either. We just named something that already existed.

I'm Transgender and for me photography has helped a lot in connecting with others elsewhere and breaking down barriers that may have continued to exist without this shared passion. I'm also disabled and struggle with things many might take for granted and it gives me an outlet for creativity and has been a very positive thing in my life.

Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion but as an LGBT person i'd just like to point out despite all the progress it's still not an easy road for many of us. Being included in life, equality with things like marriage obviously matter but there's a whole other component to inclusion and representation in photography many might not at first realize.