We gravitate towards the people we see in ourselves
Ok ok, my title to this blog sounds somewhat philosophical and, also a wee bit pretentious if we’re being honest about it, but there’s a good reason for it. I initially wanted to just call this blog post ‘Diversity’, but I knew you wouldn’t read it if I did. Or you’d think it was about that dance troupe from whichever talent reality show it was back in 2005, which I’m happy to say it isn’t. I promise I’m not going to get really heavy with this topic, but do let me set the scene:
Diversity can broadly be defined as “a range of different things”. I’m a firm believer in diversity, and it’s plain to see how it affects my chosen field, the wedding industry. I recognised how diversity within this industry was fairly non-existent several years ago, back when I was arranging my own wedding back in 2013. Here’s an example of what I mean:
I have short hair, I have done since I was in my teens, and I will probably continue to have short hair for the remainder of my days, as is my signature bob. When I was looking at images of brides back in 2013 for wedding research and general inspiration, do you think I could find any images of brides with short hair like me, without a serious amount of specific Googling? Hell no! People don’t want images of women with short hair – God forbid – they want images of tall, slender glamazons with long, flowing effortless locks, preferably sandy blonde where possible. Women with short, dark hair like mine were, and continue to be, not bride material. (As it happens, I am frequently complimented on my hair, more so than anything else.) Images of brides all followed a similar pattern, and as for ‘a range of different things’ well, that didn’t really exist.
My brief point around my hair translates into the wider issue around diversity within the wedding industry, with the definition of ‘diversity’ at the forefront – a range of different things. More often than not, we’re treated to images of young, slim, beautiful couples, who are the apparent epitome of a wedding couple (I should also point out they’re also white, but I promised not to get really heavy, didn’t I), and I don’t feel this is an exact representation of how the wider population around us looks. I don’t know about you, but not everyone I know is young, slim and Hollywood. We are all kinds of different shapes, sizes, ages, colours, a veritable rainbow of different qualities, such as – believe it or not – women with short hair. So it’s frustrating when I don’t see this variety represented in wedding industry images, whether it’s bridal publications, wedding suppliers, photographer’s portfolios or otherwise – next time you’re looking at some images of brides and grooms, see how diverse the people in the images are. Next time you’re scrolling through Instagram at the wedding accounts, are people from all corners fairly represented? Nah. Should they be? Absolutely.
I know not everyone out there does not look like the ‘industry standard’ (young, slim, white heterosexual couples), so when we’re overwhelmed with these images, we tend to resonate with those who represent our own communities, or in other words, we gravitate towards the people we see in ourselves. We seek out those who are like us, whether it’s physically, emotionally or spiritually, and this is totally relevant for wedding photographers like me – people who will represent and celebrate all the shapes and sizes, races and ages, and not be afraid to put these people front and centre of their work. As individuals we want to feel comfortable and feel valued.
I would love a much more diverse portfolio, I have said it many times to many people. I want to capture real couples, real people who are out there in every day life. I would love to be the person entrusted to photograph weddings with different ethnicities, or couples who may not belong to societal heteronormativity (Boom! I managed to get heteronormativity in here).
In plain English, I really do want to capture a much more diverse range of couples. It’s hard to do when people may not see themselves in my work, though I always try to represent real life. Rest assured, I would love to photograph you, whatever you’re like, as long as you’ve got a good sense of adventure and a great sense of humour.