Capturing a Couple’s Connection

As photographers, Leslie and Tanner Dam couldn’t help but make their nuptials look amazing with a stunning backdrop.

As told to Marc Graser by Leslie Dam
Images courtesy of Leslie Dam and Tanner Dam

Originally the plan was just to celebrate the holidays with our family in Sacramento, but Tanner and I love to seize our opportunities and it turned into “let’s make it official and get married!”

We wanted it to be a small dinner with our family as a celebration, but of course with such an amazing, supportive, and loving family, a small gathering to witness the signing of our marriage certificate turned into a ceremony with wedding vows, lots of food, and a lot of yelling and screaming with excitement and joy. It was the perfect wedding and really reflected who we are as a couple. 

Believe it or not, our relationship started with a trip together. With Tanner living in Hawai’i and me in California, we met in person for the first time in San Francisco, about half a year after I “slid in his DM’s.” After our long weekend together, we decided to take our chances being in a long distance relationship and we’ve been together since then. That was four years ago. 

For us, traveling is always a balance between our “must-dos” and things we can sacrifice if we’re no longer up for it.  

Luckily for me, Tanner is always good with research, creating the itinerary, and having a list of things to fall back on. 

Most important is just make the best of it, take the rest if you need it. When it’s safe to do so, public transportation or walking will definitely help you see more of the city or country you’re visiting. 

Believe it or not, our relationship started with a trip together.


One of our favorite travel destinations is Osaka, Japan. Between seeing all the animals, historic sites, our frequent stops at 7-Eleven and Lawsons, and the multiple geek shops, we absolutely love the culture and the hospitality. 

I would have to say one of my favorite memories of our travels is going to Hakone, Japan. It was during the winter season and we got to experience the quietness of a more rural area.

After spending a few days in Tokyo and Osaka, being in Hakone to just lay back and relax was refreshing. Not to mention the onsens really helped with recovery.

Don’t be discouraged about places you hear that don’t accept us. Unfortunately, this is something we always have to be conscious of. But for my LGBTQ travelers, always know where our safe spaces are.

My trip to Bangkok was the most surprising trip I have ever taken. Not really knowing what to expect, I always thought Thailand was all about temples and street food. What I found was how much more of a city it was—a lot of shopping malls, the hustle and bustle, and their love for fashion.

But this is why we travel! We get to learn more about other countries and cultures that we don’t get to experience a lot of unless we’re there.

Don’t be discouraged about places you hear that don’t accept us. Unfortunately, this is something we always have to be conscious of. But for my LGBTQ travelers, always know where our safe spaces are.

We can be completely blindsided and think even though the majority of the places aren’t as “progressive,” or LGBTQ friendly, there are a lot of places that have small communities that will welcome us and where you can be yourself and have a great time!  Find the places that give us the freedom to feel safe in. Those are the most rewarding experiences and you’ll make a lot of friends along the way that will always welcome you back.

As an LGBTQ+ veteran and small business owners, we are always seeking ways to grow and inspire others. 

Leslie and Tanner share the story behind some of their favorite photos.

Lake Clementine, California

Tanner and I had planned on doing a small paper signing ceremony with the family in Sacramento while we were there to spend the holidays. Since we were going to wear suits and have our leis for the ceremony, we wanted to also take our wedding photos. We’ve always had easy access to beautiful waterfalls in Hawai’i, so we had to find something we thought was just as breathtaking and immediately remembered this hike in Lake Clementine, which is a 45-minute drive from Sacramento,  had done before my move to Hawai’i. 

The photos were taken in December, so being in California and closer to the mountains, it was cold. But the view was amazing and we felt good being in our suits. It was a happy day for the both of us. Being photographers ourselves, we just brought our camera and tripod and took the pictures. With whatever feelings we had left in our fingers from the freezing cold and the mist from the waterfall, we managed to capture these incredible photos.

I would definitely recommend this hike for anyone who enjoys nice forest and mountain scenery, especially when visiting Northern California. It’s a whole different view than if you were closer to the coastline. The hike itself is fairly easy and you get to walk along the lake.


Paris, France

We took this photo in Paris when we went to Europe with our siblings. Known as the City of Love, obviously we had to take a picture with the Eiffel tower as our backdrop. And of course, we love our props, as well, so we had to make a quick stop at the local bakery to get some baguettes beforehand. It was raining that day and we only had our 85 mm lens, so the shot was tricky, but we made it work, and have to say we are happy with how the photos came out. There’s even a black and white version, kind of like those old portraits of Paris you see at random retail stores that always have a black and white version. If you enjoy espresso, croque madames (best thing ever) and art, Paris is the place you want to visit.


Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park

We took this at Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park in Osaka, Japan, during our second time visiting Japan together, and we’re itching to go back again. The last time we were there was December, so during this visit we wanted to take advantage of the spring season by visiting a place where we could see the lovely flowers. This photo represents just how we are no matter where we go. Holding hands, walking, and just admiring everything. It was a nice place to just relax and enjoy the view. I absolutely recommend anyone heading to Osaka for their next trip to visit this place, especially if it’s during springtime. Get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and just enjoy a stroll in the park. Not that it won’t be busy there, but it’s a different vibe and feel.

Tanner is currently working on his artwork which comes in the form of enamel pins (stickers and other goodies soon to come), and I am rebranding my photography and videography business, Dam Fine Media, that caters more to the Los Angeles market, while continuing to work in the film and entertainment industry. You can check us out on Instagram at highend.pins and damfinemedia.