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How to Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion in Your Photography Business

10 min read

Diversity is part of our everyday lives, but it isn’t always a staple of the photography industry. Here are a few ways to start prioritizing diversity and inclusion in your business.

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Diversify your business, and you’ll see the benefits!

We all know there are a lot of hats photographers wear; we’re BUSY.

If I have clients waiting for emails and phone calls, that comes first.

Editing? It’s a close second. After these two things, it seems like the others all fall behind.

Posting on my Instagram is pretty high up there, and it’s easier than doing something like writing a blog post.

Blogging, revamping a website, redoing your branding… those are things that wait until we have more time. But the truth is, we never really get around to those projects.

diversity in your photography

One of those back-burner projects tends to be going into our websites, social media bios, and other places we represent our businesses, and rewording them or finding ways to prioritize diversity and inclusion. I’ve met a ton of photographers who care a lot about this but don’t always know where to start.

#1: Understand the Terminology

When you’re ready to start making some changes to your business so you can prioritize diversity and inclusion, the first thing you need to dive into is the terminology. “Diversity and inclusion” is a phrase that goes together like peanut butter and jelly. You should not have one without the other.

At its core, marketing with diversity in mind means recognizing there are many diverse people, cultures, and marginalized groups in our world. Simply knowing this as a business owner is not enough, which is why inclusion is paramount. Inclusion is the intentional outreach and representation of these marginalized groups in our photography and marketing efforts.

To prioritize diversity and inclusion in your business, you must prioritize both parts.

inclusion and diversity

#2: Commit to Making the Change

Making the change to prioritize diversity and inclusion is not an easy process. While you might be immediately ready to run out and write “we love diversity!” on your website right now, we truly need to commit to making the change within ourselves first. This is not something you should do just for more weddings, you need to mean it.

Get clients. Get paid. Get happy.

For me, diversity and inclusion was important, but I had a big turning point in 2017 when I was able to watch Buffy Goodman speak at a conference and she was speaking about feminism in her work. She said, “The way the wedding industry advertises is in no way a reflection of the general populous.”

That’s when it hit me. It really hit me. The industry does not reflect the general populace, and I wasn’t doing my part either. I went straight home and started making changes that showcased my serious commitment to my clients and to prioritizing diversity and inclusion in my work.

#3: Focus on Your Online Presence

Now that you’re ready to truly commit to prioritizing diversity and inclusion, you can dive into the basics of getting started. First, we need to focus on online presence. Your online presence includes your website, social media, and just about anywhere that you market online.

diversity and inclusion

Create a Bite-Sized Bio

There are several areas I recommend working on prioritizing diversity and inclusion online. First, start by writing a short Instagram-size bio. This can be used at the bottom of your website where you’d put copyright information, but can also be used consistently across social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Write your Business’ Core Values

Take the time to sit down and figure out your business’s core values, then create a page dedicated to these core values. More written words on your website can only boost your SEO, so don’t be afraid to add more information.

Your core values should be the top 3-5 things you value most as a business. Mine include representing marginalized communities with my photography, bodily integrity, cultural appropriation, creating photos with meaning, and wedding autonomy.

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Add a Mission Statement to Your Website

What is it that you hope to do with your photography? I think most wedding photographers want to create lasting memories for clients to pass down for generations, but is there something more you hope to do? Your mission statement can be a great place to include a little bit about how you work, your commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as any other important things someone may need to know about you as a photographer.

diversity in your photography

Create Welcoming Website Wording

A great place to create welcoming wording is right on your home page. It lets people see your commitment to diversity and inclusion in your imagery and gives potential visitors a place to confirm almost immediately what you stand for and why. On my website I start with “The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know About Having Me As Your Photographer” and detail 5 things that are sometimes silly, but also showcase my commitment to representation of marginalized communities.

Photographer Shawnee Custalow talks about the importance of representation in your online presence as well. “Seeing yourself represented by a business in their imagery, wording, and social media is so important. If I don’t feel like I belong or that you care about my well-being, then I’m simply not going to support you. Period.

inclusion in photography

I’ve had so many clients reach out to me specifically because my work and website are so inclusive. They stated that they felt safe and welcome (as we all should) and didn’t have to wonder if I was going to turn them away for just being themselves and loving who they love. Or if I was going to mess up their pronouns or put them in weird heteronormative poses, making them feel uncomfortable. Many of them had already been rejected or ignored by other wedding vendors, which just makes planning such a joyous event incredibly upsetting and frustrating.

As a queer photographer, I create a safe and welcoming space for my LGBTQIA+ clients. I want them to just breathe and be themselves, and that’s when the magic really happens.”

Another simple way to adjust your website wording and ensure it is welcoming to everyone is to ensure you aren’t using phrases like “bride and groom.” Not every couple identifies as a bride and groom. While some recommend using “couple” instead, I usually use the word “clients” as I find it even more accessible when representing numerous different family relationships.

#4: Showcasing Your Portfolio

Representation and inclusion of diverse clients on your website is not limited to only your wording. It’s also important to visually include diversity on your website. That means taking the time to revise your portfolio. Sometimes, photographers throw one or two LGBTQIA+ wedding photos into their online portfolio, but it can be especially important to focus on your home page.

LGBTQ+ in photography

Photographer Theo Nash adds, “If all of your couples look the same on your home page, you are giving your couples extra work. You are making them take time to try and figure out what they would look like in your photos. If you exclude LGBTQIA+ couples from your home page, you are making couples dig through your page to see if you will even work with them.

Every LGBTQIA+ couple holds a bit a fear that they will be rejected when reaching out to a vendor. Remove that fear, and remove the extra work. Your home page should show a variety of races, body sizes, sexual orientations, and cultures. Show your potential clients you’re the right photographer by showing them themselves, right on your home page.”

Empower your clients with gorgeous galleries.

Are you Ready to Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion in Your Business?

Focusing on these small changes can create a significant impact. Not only are you giving your potential clients the clear message that they are welcome, but you’re also committing to redefine normal as diverse and inclusive. That, by itself, can start to change the world.

Written by CARRIE SWAILS | Photographs by Vows and Peaks Photography

Carrie Swails is a feminist and Lord-of-the-Rings-loving wedding photographer serving diverse and offbeat people in Colorado. She also teaches third grade, creates educational tools for photographers, and blogs about her muggle life.



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Apr 2024

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