Recently, there’s been a spotlight shown on the inequality that exists in America. This includes the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in many industries – one of which is wedding photography.
The wedding photography community is predominantly white, and this lack of diversity can have several negative consequences. For black photographers, it can be challenging to break into the industry and be taken seriously. And for black couples, it can be difficult to find a photographer who can capture their unique love story.
As a black wedding and elopement photographer operating in Tacoma and Seattle Washington, I often feel like I’m swimming against the current in a field that’s not particularly welcoming to people of color. And while I’m certainly not the only one fighting this battle, I believe that black wedding and elopement photographers have a unique perspective to offer the world, since we are able to capture the beauty and joy of our couples in a way that is authentic to who they are. We understand the importance of representation, and we are committed to ensuring that our couples see themselves represented in a positive light.
We’re able to make a difference by increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the black wedding photography community. Here are 10 ways how we can do just that:
If you are a wedding planner or vendor in the wedding industry, commit to hiring black photographers for at least a portion of your weddings. This will help increase their visibility and allow them to build their portfolios.
If you’re not already familiar with the importance of representation, I urge you to educate yourself on the topic. Representation matters. All couples need to see themselves reflected in the wedding industry, and black couples are no exception. In 2020, Brides called for 20 percent of their newly published Real Wedding features to include Black couples, and overall, 50 percent include diverse couples. In 2021, 27 percent of the newly published Real Wedding features included Black couples, and 54 percent included diverse couples.
When planning your wedding, make a conscious effort to seek out black-owned businesses. This includes everything from florists and caterers to photographers and videographers. By supporting black-owned businesses, you’re not only helping to diversify the wedding industry, but you’re also helping to support the black community as a whole.
One of the best ways to succeed as a black wedding photographer is to network with other black creatives. Join groups and forums online, attend meetups and conferences, and make an effort to build relationships with other black photographers. These connections will not only help you grow as a photographer, but they will also help you find new clients and opportunities.
If you see something that isn’t right, say something. Whether it’s an offensive joke at a wedding industry event or a bride’s racist comments on a wedding planning forum, it’s important to speak up. By using your voice to stand up against racism, you’re helping to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place for all.
When talking with potential clients, take a moment to educate them on the importance of diversity in the wedding industry. Share with them your commitment to photographing couples of all backgrounds, and let them know that you’ll be sensitive to their needs as a black couple. By having these conversations with your clients, you’re helping break down barriers and making it more likely that they’ll book a black photographer for their wedding.
In addition to racism, many other forms of discrimination exist in the wedding industry. As a black photographer, it’s important to be an ally to other marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ+ couples, couples of color, and couples with disabilities. Show your support for these couples by featuring them in your portfolio, speaking up for them when you see discrimination, and referring them to inclusive and welcoming businesses.
When you’re marketing your business, make sure to reach out to black-owned media outlets and wedding planning resources. In addition to traditional wedding publications, there are many black-owned websites, blogs, and social media accounts that feature content for black couples. By diversifying your marketing efforts, you’re increasing your chances of reaching black couples looking for a photographer.
We all have biases, both conscious and unconscious. As a black photographer, it’s important to be aware of your own biases and how they might impact your photography. If you’re unsure where to start, consider taking an implicit bias test. This will help you identify any areas where you might need to do some additional self-reflection.
When it comes to race, there’s no such thing as a comfortable conversation. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have them. If you’re ever in a situation where racism is present, don’t be afraid to have a difficult conversation. It might not be easy, but it’s important work that needs to be done.
Wedding photography is an amazing way to capture the love and joy of a couple’s special day. But it’s also an industry that has a long history of racism. As a black photographer, there are many things you can do to fight racism in the wedding industry. By being aware of your own biases, networking with other black creatives, and speaking up when you see something wrong, you’re helping to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place for all.
WOW… I do not know where to start! I did not know Lessie before our photoshoot but I am so glad to have met her and chosen her to capture our engagement pictures! She was so easy to communicate with and so so helpful from start to finish. I am absolutely obsessed with the photos she captured of my fiancé and I! Not only do the photos look beyond amazing but our experience with her throughout the photoshoot was out of this world! She is extremely talented and was amazing at capturing natural and real moments!
- AMANDA + THOMAS
Lessie is the most compassionate, easy to communicate with , professional photographer I have ever had the joy of working with. Lessie has a skill set the surpasses many others, her attention to detail, her willingness to try new things and her commitment to the highest quality photos and experience for all who have the honor of booking with her is unprecedented. Lessie has a soul that is so invested in producing authenticity that many photos seem to lack.
- EMILY + DANIEL
Lessie was awesome! We are so happy she was the one that captured our special day! She was so professional. She was great at communicating with us in a timely manner and was extremely flexible when we had to reschedule our endgame to pictures. And my husband and I absolutely loved our wedding pictures as well. Lessie was able to captures so many great memories that we get to treasure forever!
- YESENIA + ROBBIE
Lessie is the most compassionate, easy to communicate with , professional photographer I have ever had the joy of working with. Lessie has a skill set the surpasses many others, her attention to detail, her willingness to try new things and her commitment to the highest quality photos and experience for all who have the honor of booking with her is unprecedented.... My gosh I am so grateful we booked with her! Lessie has a soul that is so invested in producing authenticity that many photos seem to lack.
- EMILY + DANIEL
Lessie is an amazing photographer. We could not be happier with our wedding photos. I love that she included many unique shots that I wouldn't have thought of but that I really love. Also, along with the photos of my husband and me and photos of both sides of the bridal party, she captured many of the wonderful smaller moments and details that are hard to notice amidst the busy-ness of the wedding day. We loved seeing those smaller details and the candid photos of friends and family as well. They're all very special to us.
- ABBIE + TONY