Disclaimer: In this post, I am specifically addressing the issues in America and Europe. And I do NOT speak on behalf of ALL Black people – I am just sharing MY point-of-view.
I am open to a healthy and constructive discourse in the comments.
Today, I will be talking about why it is so important to have equal respresentation of Black people in the wedding industry.
Our industry has come under intense scrutiny in the past few weeks as being very white-washed. This is evident in the images shared across the board online on social media, vendor websites, mainstream wedding blogs, print magazines and the like. Furthermore, the sheer underrepresentation of Black people as speakers in photography workshops and conferences has also been put on the spotlight – but this is a topic for another day!
This uproar is not new, but it has gained a lot of traction recently due to the Black Lives Matter movement. And if you ask me, it is way overdue.
And so, before we go ahead with trying to find ways to make our wedding industry better by making it more diverse and inclusive, let us look at the reasons why it is so important. One might think, it is just fair to represent everyone. Which is true. But bare with me and let me break it down a bit further…
1. Black people are also getting married.
I would like to start by talking about why we need to showcase more Black couples in our portfolios as photographers and in the spreads of wedding publications, blogs, feature accounts…you get the jist!
For one, Black people are also getting married and throwing weddings. Plain and simple. And if one is in the business of serving couples that are getting married, this business should be welcoming and catering to all types of couples.
Featuring an overwhelming number of white couples signals to Black people that they are not the target audience and are not embraced in this space. Even if not done intentionally or out of malice, the marketing message blatantly ignores Black people and is a form of discrimination.
This is an industry dedicated to the celebration of love. What does that say when it excludes Black people from that picture? What conclusions are being drawn by Black people and everyone else – even on a subconscious level? That Black people are not worthy? That Black people are not beautiful? That Black people are barely even getting married? That Black people can’t afford to throw beautiful weddings?
The extent of the harm caused can probably not be quanitfied.
I want you to take a moment and imagine a Black couple who just got engaged and is in the beginning phases of planning their wedding. Picture them hoping on Pinterest and putting in for example, wedding dresses in the search bar. The majority of the images that show up are of white women. They scroll the Instagram accounts of wedding blogs and are met with mostly white couples. They do a Google search for wedding planners, and their websites are full of white couples. The list goes on and on. There is something definitely wrong about this!
I am also aware that there is a myth that Black won’t sell – at least not as well as white. And for people marketing their businesses, I wonder if this is an underlying reason? I will have you know that this sort of thinking stems from racist ideologies. I mean, just take a look at the history of Hollywood for example….
2. Black couples need to also be equally celebrated and catered to!
Photographs are a powerful medium for documenting, storytelling and portraying people. Yes, Black couples and weddings are being captured, but they are disporportionately undershared on portfolios and wedding publications.
When I type in beautiful bride on Pinterest, I want to see all types of women. I don’t want to be bombarded by only white women. When I am following a wedding blog on Instagram, I don’t want to only see white couples. This doesn’t mean that I have anything against white people. Not at all. But I want equal representation of Black people.
And let me take this opportunity to say that it is also about representing Black women of all shades, darker, lighter, mixed. With short hair, with long hair, straight hair, curly hair, no hair. Thinner, thicker, shorter, taller…all of it!
3. Not including Black couples and Black weddings, is somewhat equivallent to ignoring their existence.
The wedding industry has a responsibility to showcase diversity and be inclusive. This is easier said than done for photographers living in remote areas where the communities are not as diverse, but wedding publications with access to a wide range of photographers are in a position to do so with relative ease.
We need to combat anti-Black bias at all levels in the industry.
You know what, our societies are becoming more and more diverse and that is not going to change. It is time that we embrace that on all levels. We also have a responsibility towards the younger generation to make the world we live in more loving and accepting.
We need to actively be anti-racist in our day-to-day lives and businesses. We need to do better!
The fact that you are reading this post is a good indicator that you realise that a change is needed and that you are willing to do your part. That’s amazing!
In upcoming blog posts and on my podcast, I will be talking about how to build a diverse portfolio, tokenism, being an ally and so much more! What topics would you like to hear me address? Let me know by slidding into my DM on Instagram: @aidaglowik
Hi! I’m Aida, a photographer & podcaster based in Germany. I provide wedding photographers with the inspiration, tools and resources needed to build a sustainable brand and business. Click here for more about me.