The last two weeks have been a time for listening and introspection. After listening to black voices, I have taken a hard look at myself, my past behavior, and my own implicit biases. Why? Because I want to be a better anti-racist ally.
When I started photographing weddings 20 years ago, I was still relatively new to the photography industry. There was a lot I did not understand. When I showed photos of black couples I worked with, I would sometimes have other photographers say that dark skin tones are “so difficult to work with.”
At the time, I did not see the racism in that statement. I thought it was merely a comment on lighting technique and I chose to get better at lighting all skin tones.
When I showed photos from interracial weddings, I would sometimes hear back, “Oh, it’s so hard to match the lighting with people of different skin tones. That’s why I don’t photograph those weddings.”
I remember photographing a BEAUTIFUL Nigerian wedding early on in my career. The couple…the outfits…everything was gorgeous!
I was so excited to submit that wedding to different publications. When all of the submissions were denied, I figured it was due to my own lack of skill and my pictures ‘just weren’t good enough.’
I also did not question any further when none of my interracial weddings were accepted for publication.
Sometimes I would get feedback on my portfolio along the lines of, “Are you sure you want to put these photos in your portfolio? Is this the clientele you’re looking to have hire you? Black people usually hire black photographers.”
Looking at my portfolio, I think I let these subconscious biases effect my choices. I work with amazing, diverse couples all of the time. My portfolio needs to reflect that part of my business and not just what I’ve photographed most recently.
And I don’t think posting photos of black or interracial couples is going to solve the broader, systemic problems in our society.
There’s a lot more I can do.
I will actively be more inclusive in my portfolio of work and what I show on social media.
I will actively promote black voices within the wedding industry – a task I’ve already begun on my Instagram stories.
I will do more to promote black owned wedding businesses I work with!
I will hold my industry to a higher standard.
I’m listening. will continue put in the work. If there’s something else I can do to be a better ally, please let me know.