This is a guest post by Tasha Wade.
Tasha is the creator behind Fernweh & Fair Photography. You may know her from episode #7 of the FloInsider podcast, where Tasha shares various marketing ideas and steps one needs to take when planning to relocate their business into a new city or country.
The conversation also touched upon how representative and inclusive the photography space is. How to avoid tokenism. How to make your brand a safer and more inviting space for everybody. As well as, how to deal with racism and mean comments that come from strangers or your clients’ network.
Of course, an interview or blog post is not nearly enough to cover a topic of such scale. But we encourage you to read this article, listen to Tasha’s episode, follow her advice and try your best to be an ally. You’re on the right path!
“So you want to be more inclusive?
Great, but how do you go about it? Being inclusive starts with YOU. It starts with your brand, who you are as a person, what you stand for and what your morals are. Inclusivity is not a trend. I repeat, Inclusivity, IS NOT a trend. There is a fine line between being inclusive, and tokenizing certain groups of people, that you’re trying to market to.
In the last year, I came across so many model calls saying “LGBTQIA or BIPOC couples will be chosen as priority” and I cringe when I see this, because it really makes it seem like people are only doing that for clout or some sort of recognition. Don’t do it for the trend. Your brand and business should reflect and speak to the clients you truly wish to attract.
I’ve been that person. I happened to hire a photographer who had values I did not completely agree with. This can be extremely detrimental to your brand, and a little awareness goes a long way. A lot of people say “add LGBTQIA or BIPOC friendly into your bio” but not many highlight that it’s also important to take the time and put yourself in the position of your client. What does your brand speak to them? How does your portfolio make them feel?
Before I pick a photographer, this is always something I look for – can I see myself in their work? Proper skin tones, diversity, representation for all is important. We scroll through Instagram and if a photo caught our attention, we click on the author’s page to see what they post. Showcase your work in a way that if you were a potential client, you would feel represented.
4 Ways to Make Your Business More Inclusive
So what are some ways that you can be more inclusive?
Being clear about what you stand for is a start.
One of the most rewarding moments in my business, was when one of my clients came to me and said “We chose you because of your values and what you stand for.” I made it clear that my brand is an LGBTQIA ally, I support Black Lives Matter, and I am a Black-owned business. Your core values should set the standard for how you operate.
- Get out into your community! It’s no longer acceptable to say that “Well, I don’t live in a diverse area”, and that’s why you aren’t able to photograph couples that are BIPOC, or LGBTQIA. Take a walk around your local neighborhood. Introduce yourself. Social media is a huge influence. Start by searching local hashtags and reaching out to those you may be interested in photographing. With that being said, be careful to avoid tokenization.
- Reach out to BIPOC or LGBTQIA business owners. It’s vital to take the time and learn from those who can share their experience with you. Amplifying their voices starts with active listening. You can join a styled shoot or connect on Instagram and ask questions that open up conversations. In my case, I was always somebody who is willing to connect with fellow creatives and discuss diversity.
- Use more inclusive language. Avoid words that are gender-specific. For example, in the wedding industry, I often see “brides and grooms” when referring to couples, but not every couple fits into this mold. Avoid assumptions about someone’s sexual orientation. Instead, use pronouns that don’t allude to gender bias.
- Be an ally. This is more than just showing it on social media, creating a “we stand with you” post, and going about your day. Let’s be real, most people who posted that, have long forgotten. But the LGBTQIA, BIPOC, and so many other communities live this on a daily basis. A true ally uses their voice, and platform for the greater good. Do your research, be informed, and be ready to have those uncomfortable conversations. Let your actions speak for themselves. There is this odd notion that business and politics don’t mix. Being an ally is not political. It’s about showing up and offering support to the communities that you are striving to be more inclusive of!
2020 has been a hard year for creatives.
Make 2021 the year that you step out of your comfort zone and create art that fuels your soul. Remember why you started your business. Find that passion that brings out the most wild creative in you!”
Just like Tasha pointed it out, inclusivity isn’t about posting a photo or statement about being an ally and supporting the LGBTQIA, BIPOC communities one time, and then going radio silent and never showing support again. The work you put out there, the words you share, the conversations you’re having with friends, family and business partners – speak louder than a black square or an IG bio statement.
Changing the world is not an easy task. But it starts locally, with people who are ready to put in the effort, passion, time, and work towards a bigger, greater goal.
If you want to connect to Tasha Renae Wade and explore her work or offer a collaboration, check her website here: www.fernwehandfairphotography.com.
Tasha can also be found on Instagram: @fernwehandfairphoto.
We remind you that this article is part of our Educational Campaign for Photographers.
We’ve joined forces with a group of talented, experienced creatives from the photography and design industries, to bring you a series of interviews and articles. Each filled with game-changing insights, practical tips, and inspiring perspectives on business, marketing, sales, photography, and life in general.
Find more details and awesome content here!