Now more than ever, it’s important for brands to take a stance on inclusion. The sad truth is this: inclusion is not a given. Promoting diversity in the workplace and supporting equal treatment and opportunity for people of all identities is something that we work to do every day at Mastin Labs. We welcome people from all walks of life and are encouraged to see other businesses do the same. As businesses owner, we encourage you to be intentional about building a brand voice that promotes inclusion.
Today, we are giving you tips on how you can create an inclusive brand voice that makes everyone feel valued and welcomed, from the first contact.
Change Your Language
For wedding photographers, especially, it’s important to do a sweeping audit of your website to make sure that it’s clearly inclusive of non-hetero couples. Go through your website and remove any gendered pronouns. Use gender-neutral terms in their place. Update all your marketing materials and contracts to apply to hetero and non-hetero couples alike.
Some gender-neutral alternatives include:
- “Couple” instead of “bride” and “groom”
- “Wedding party” instead of “Bridesmaids” and “groomsmen”
- “Parents of the couple” instead of “mother (or father) of the bride”
To include couples of different religious backgrounds and identities, nix any mention of a “priest” or “church”, and to use neutral language regarding officiates, location, and wedding traditions.
For non-wedding photographers, these same rules can be applied. Examine your website and replace any gendered pronouns with “they” or another gender-neutral term.
Display Inclusive Photos
The images you choose to display on your website will greatly affect how potential clients see you. For wedding photography, show off images of interracial couples, hetero couples, same-sex couples, and couples that challenge gender norms. For family and portrait photographers, display portraits of racially diverse people, interracial families, and non-biological parents. Show that you shoot families of all colors, sizes, sexuality, and creed.
Use androgynous models or non-confirmative couples, families, and individuals; photos that show that you’re the highest priority is to capture how each couple, family, or individual celebrates themselves. Display these images in prominent places on your website. Seeing people that look like them will help potential clients feel comfortable hiring you and working with you.
Support Inclusive Brands
As an inclusive brand, it’s important to support other inclusive brands that you truly trust to make your clients feel welcome and supported. Build a list of professionals in your industry such as wedding planners, stylists, florists, and caterers, who you know will treat your diverse clientele with respect. Support these vendors, and refer couples to them, exclusively. An inclusive brand voice means nothing unless you’re living it in your own life. An important part of that is supporting other businesses in the industry that are inclusive as well.
Don’t Assume Family Roles
The first step in taking great photos of anyone is to first take the time to get to know them. Whether you sit down with them for a meet and greet or send them a questionnaire ahead of time, the more you know about your clients, the better you’ll be able to take photos of them that represent who they are. It’s important to ask your clients questions that will help you understand how your client represents themselves and their family unit.
Don’t assume the parents are married, don’t assume the mom is a stay-at-home mom, don’t assume the dad works, and don’t assume the children are all blood-related. Be open to non-traditional roles; let the clients define who they are.
This same rule also applies to same-sex couples. Understand that same-sex couples do not necessarily take on masculine or feminine roles in the relationship (this goes for hetero couples as well!). When posing same-sex couples, let them define their roles. For more on posing same-sex couples, read our previous blog, Tips For Posing Same-Sex Couples.
In wedding photography, traditions can be an especially hot topic. When speaking to your same sex (or opposite sex) couples, don’t assume that they will have a traditional wedding ceremony that includes events like a reception, grand exit, mother-daughter dance, father escort down the aisle, minister, etc. The couple may choose to not follow confirmative traditions. Ask them about their day and the vision they have for it. You can use your standard shot list as a starting point, but ask questions and build your shot list off of what they tell you, not off of what you’ve shot in the past.
Creating an inclusive brand is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner, and one of the most impactful choices you can make as an individual. We are proud to partner with inclusive brands, and to advocate for diversity. We believe that it is our responsibility and honor as photographers to strengthen the threads that hold us together by taking photos that celebrate our similarities and our differences. As a brand, we are committed to continually providing a safe place and promoting educational conversations like this one that strengthens our industry and endorses equality.