How Wedding Photographers Can Create An Inclusive Business

How Wedding Photographers Can Create An Inclusive Business

Wedding photographers have the incredible job of capturing a day that many consider to be one of the best of their lives. We at Nations Photo Lab believe that everyone deserves to tell their love story loudly, proudly, and exactly how they want to.

However, many couples (especially LGBTQ+ couples!) consider different variables before choosing their wedding photographer – namely, will my photographer ensure that I’m comfortable, safe, and respected on my special day? We spoke to 11 wedding photographers about what inclusivity means for them and their business, especially when it comes to serving LGBTQ+ couples.

“What inclusivity means to us, is not only showing support to the whole LGBTQ+ community during pride month, but all year round. Being inclusive means that any couple knows they are welcome to use us as a vendor from the moment they find us – whether it be on our website or any social media. It shouldn’t have to be something they are afraid to tell you, or worry about rejection when they contact you. Couples of the LGBTQ+ community are being discriminated against in the wedding industry and we need to change that. We are always learning to be more inclusive, but are proud that we are known to be an inclusive business.”

– Luke & Aneisa, Calder Photography // @thecalders_

“A great way to make your website demonstrate full inclusivity, would be making sure you aren’t only saying you are “LGBTQ+ friendly” and burying those words somewhere deep into your site… It means proudly showcasing LGBTQ+ couples on the main page, so before anyone even needs to hunt for those words, they are greeted by inclusive images at first glance, and will have no need to even wonder!”

Heather K. Purdy Photography // @heatherkpurdy

“As a photographer, my images have to speak for themselves as a demonstration of my values as well as my creativity. Photographers, of all people, are keenly aware of the significance of a photo, and the lasting impact it can have on memory and culture. Therefore, it is critical that we use our platforms as memory preservers to encapsulate all of culture. Storytelling of love is critical, and specifically with LGBTQ+ couples, who are every bit as deserving of visibility and adoration as the hetero culture of weddings. As a photographer, I am always honored to photograph all kinds of love. After all, love is love.”

– Rose Groves, Matlai Photography // @matlai_photography

“The thing with the wedding industry is that this is the business of love, first and foremost. We all specialize in supporting clients through the most wonderful, joyful day in their life as they begin a partnership with one another.

The struggle with this industry, which is pretty universally felt through the queer community, is that while we specialize in love, not all of us believe in everyone’s right to marriage. No matter someone’s gender, race, sexuality, religion, or any other difference, people deserve the right to get married.

It’s frustrating to hear people hire me out of safety – it’s not always the biggest or the first reason, but it’s often a reason people hire a queer, nonbinary, trans wedding photographer. And for me, what’s even more frustrating is to hear that peers of mine, who are also nonbinary, trans, queer, are leaving the industry because of how hard it is to exist within this industry. And when I talk about safety, it doesn’t take a lot, let alone effort to just be kind — which is more often what it all boils down to. If folks could just be kind, not assume, be thoughtful of the fact that words can hurt, we could see a drastically better, healthier, more positive industry.

Inclusivity in my business boils down to really just being kind. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, just the mindset that being kind to anyone that inquires is really important. Every client coming my way as they move through the wedding planning process deserves to feel joy and happiness on their journey to saying “I do,” and being inclusive is a part of ensuring joy and happiness for all.”

– Eli, Seas Mtns Co // @seasmtnsco

“Inclusivity in my photography business means providing a safe space for all types of love to be celebrated.”

Kylie Farmer Photography // @kyliefarmerphotography

“To be inclusive means making sure your clients are comfortable with you and can see representation in your work. It also means always using inclusive language — from the way you speak with them, to the copy on your website, all the way down to even your Instagram captions!”

KRM Gallery // @k.r.m.gallery

“I think the two biggest things that photographers can do to become an inclusive business is gender neutral language and representation. When folks are speaking to only brides marrying a groom, they’re cutting out a giant portion of folks right off the bat. Not everyone getting married is a woman marrying a man. Taking the time to make your website, contracts, social media, and emails gender neutral is an affirming way to show your allyship.

That also is a big part of why representation is so necessary. I can’t tell you how many times a couple has reached out and, in their first email, said how much they appreciate seeing people who look like them being celebrated in my images. Diversity includes religion, body size, race, gender, sexuality, and much more. By showcasing work with a large diverse clientele you are telling folks immediately that you know how to pose, edit, and work with people from all backgrounds. True inclusion takes time and effort, but it’s so rewarding knowing that you can be a safe space for folks who often are overlooked in our industry.”

Liv Lyszyk Photography // @livlyszykphotography

“As a queer person myself, the longer I was in the wedding industry, the more I began to notice that so much of the language, marketing, and imagery we see every day from wedding photographers is geared toward heteronormativity, or marketed to “brides” exclusively. Not all weddings have brides, and not all brides are single-handedly planning their weddings without the help of their partner, so it just never made much sense to me! This out-of-date mindset may be true or feel like a good fit for some couples, but many marriers don’t feel seen or heard by that kind of marketing, and it so quickly excludes a wide variety of couples as they wedding plan.

It’s extremely important to me that anyone considering hiring me to capture their wedding day immediately feels welcomed and seen exactly as they are. This starts with the language I use on my website and social media (gender-neutral and inclusive) and includes everything from showing a diverse portfolio, to asking for pronouns right off the bat in my inquiry form, all the way down to utilizing genderless posing on the day of their engagement session and wedding. I want other photographers to know that being an inclusive photographer is more than just photographing LGBTQ+ people and putting their images online – it’s about being an ally down to your core, understanding the issues and challenges unique to queer couples in the wedding world and otherwise, and making sure that your business is a safe place for all people to be exactly as they are!”

AJ Abelman Photography // @ajabelmanphoto

“My team and I provide inclusive, body-positive, and human-centric photography for all. Taradise welcomes everyone who has LOVE in their heart for others regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or marital status.

I don’t particularly do anything special if I’m being honest. I feel like when businesses go ‘way out of their way’ and talk about it over and over and over, it starts to lose its meaning. I don’t shout anything from the rooftops but I display a good mix of my portfolio from my amazing diverse clientele. I believe in running my business 110% transparent and BS-free, which I think makes it easy for everyone to approach me without fearing rejection.

I’m passionate about making everyone feel loved and welcomed. I’ve always been a mama bear for those who are discriminated against and left out. My social media is public and I often share my opinions/views there – it’s public so people can go stalk me and if they don’t like what they see, they can just go find another photographer.”

Tara Arseven // @tararseven

“Inclusivity is more than changing some words on a website or making a statement that a wedding vendor is LGBTQ+ friendly. It starts with truly believing that we are all deserving of love, and it continues by proudly showcasing diversity throughout a business so couples can see themselves reflected in the work.

For my business, Magnolia + Ember, I want couples to FEEL welcomed and know their love has a home in my heart and within my photography brand. I want couples to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are safe in my presence — that they can allow themselves to unfold and really dive into the emotional depth and connection with their partner without hesitation. My art is intentionally crafted to encourage couples to shine as their most authentic selves. We are all born with the innate desire to be loved in our most honest form, and I’d be ashamed if anyone ever felt less in their experience with me.”

– Julie Crawford of Magnolia + Ember // @magnoliaandember

“LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the wedding industry is a topic that is so close to my heart. As an ally with innumerable loved ones in the community, one of the most harrowing experiences early in my business, was receiving inquiries prefaced with the question, ‘Do you photograph LGBTQ+ weddings?’ Foremost, because this suggests that they anticipate to or have been met with discrimination and unkindness from other wedding vendors, and second, because it suggests that I had not made it abundantly and immediately clear that their love story is so welcome, valued, safe, and loved here. There is always work to do better, but inclusivity starts with clear representation, gender neutral language, and explicitly stated values, and continues with an experience that makes them feel unquestionably loved and valued with you.”

Vanessa Bennish Photography // @vanessabennishphotography

How do you promote inclusivity in your business?

Thanks to Kylie Farmer Photography for the image featured at the top of this post! 

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