Diversity in the Wedding Industry
And What We Can Do as Wedding Photographers
At the moment, diversity is a hot topic in the wedding industry (and not only). But what is the debate really about? And what can we do as wedding photographers to contribute?
This week, we had a chat with longtime SNAP friend and diversity campaigner Nova Reid. Nova is also the founder of Nu Bride, one of the very first blogs to celebrate and encourage diversity in the wedding industry and beyond.
Photo credit: Andrew Billington Photography
Let's start from the beginning. What is ''diversity'' about and how the issue relates to the wedding industry?
In black and white it means variety.When we talk about diversity in the wedding industry we are talking about the visible absence of underrepresented groups of people in mainstream media and supplier portfolios. Black couples, multicultural couples, couples in mixed relationships, couples in the the LGBTQ+ community, couples where one or both have a visible disability, couples representative of body positivity.
It can also mean diversity of style - we often see traditional weddings over contemporary ones, luxury over modest. So it's about levelling the playing field, representing the invisible and communicating with as many couples as possible, within your own niche and giving people choice.
Photo Credit: Casey Avenue Photography
Why do you think people are starting to become more interested in it now?
The cynic in me wants to say the bottom line.
Money talks and when people/ businesses realise they are losing out on money they are rapidly motivated into action. The trouble is when the intention isn't authentic you end up tokenising and you can spot tokenism a mile off and it puts consumers in minority groups off.
The other two things that might be contributing to more interest in diversity are;
1. More awareness - people are talking about it more
2. Our current socio-political climate. People are aware of inequality in a way perhaps they hadn't engaged with before. As a result, consumers, especially millennial wedding couples are being savvier with where they spend their money, they care about diversity and choice and are supporting brands who are not only representative of them, but are in alignment with their beliefs on societal and even political stand-points.
Social media gives us more access and more choice to service providers than ever before and if you're not representative, people disengage very quickly.
Photo Credit: Louise Adby Photography
How can wedding photographers confront this issue and why is it important to them?
Extensive research via companies including Mckinsey, show us that businesses that are not diverse are losing billions of pounds. That they are 35% more likely to be out-performed and outsold by peers. That diverse teams produce more, that consumers are more likely to engage with a product or service if they see themselves represented. We shouldn't have to be arguing for the business case anymore.
Diversity isn't just a business case anymore, it's the backbones of who we are and who the couples are. Love is universal, so it sometimes floors me how homogenous the wedding industry is when love is the very opposite.
The first step is simply being aware. We can start to change this by being aware of and being critical of our brand aesthetic and making the necessary changes to better include underrepresented couples. Take a look - who is on your front page, who is on your social media, who are you excluding? What language are you using across your marketing materials - are you still using brides and grooms or wedding couples?
Photo Credit: Ayesha Photography
SNAP & Diversity
It's not a secret that SNAP has always focused on diversity. From the line-up to the attendants, at SNAP we make sure to create an extremely accepting environment. In the words' of our own Laura Babb:
''Before I worked in the wedding industry I worked in the social housing sector, managing community based services for diverse communities across London. A huge part of my role was ensuring that services were accessible and inclusive and that's something I definitely wanted to bring with me when I started SNAP.
We aim for a balanced line up in terms of topics. We're not just about wedding photography and we have speakers from across the photography world, the business sector and the arts because we believe diverse content helps us to grow and develop. We've had content around feminism for example, specific content around working with LGBTQI+ couples, content around diversity and bias and content around mental health.
We aim for gender parity (and in fact usually have more female speakers than male speakers) and actively seek out speakers of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Where we notice a group is under represented we try to address it through our Aspiring Speaker Scholarship . 2019 applications will be launching shortly and this year we'll be welcoming applications from anyone from an underrepresented group.
We also do a lot of work to support attendees and ensure diverse needs are catered for. For example we had an attendee this year who'd recently been diagnosed with autism and they said they felt totally welcome, at home and accepted at SNAP.
Basically at SNAP we want to level the playing field and make sure everyone feels welcome, included and supported. And because we know we can always do better we'd love to hear from you if you have any suggestions.''
Photo credit: Babb Photo
Do you want to learn more about diversity in the wedding industry?
More from Nova:
- Pop along to www.novareid.com and sign up to her mailing list where she shares free tips and advice and also provides updates of forthcoming events, workshops and diversity consultancy;
- December will see the launch of Nova's online diversity masterclass series for people who want to access her diversity workshops and use the downtime over winter to re-look at their brand aesthetic, update their portfolio and implement changes to improve diversity in business from the comfort of their own home and laptop! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest;
- Nova will also be giving a keynote session on diversity at Jelly Bean Conference on the 30th October 2018 organised by fellow SNAPster Matt Badenoch;
Articles on Tokenism by Nova:
- How to Avoid Tokenism in the Wedding Industry
- Dismantling Inequality: Why UK Black Pride is Necessary
- June Sarpong, Diversify: A fierce, Accessible, Empowering Guide to Why a More Open Society Means a More Successful on (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017).
- Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017).
Photo Credit: Casey Avenue Photography