The truth is, being diverse is more than a business strategy. It’s our responsibility to shape what the wedding industry looks like, so this week talented photographer Elizabeth Austin joined me for a brave conversation about creating a feeling of safety for Black and Brown people in our businesses and the industry as a whole. Hit play to find out how you can help.
About Elizabeth Austin Photography:
Elizabeth is a northern girl with a southern heart. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she began her career in high school taking graduation photos of her classmates. While in Alabama pursuing her undergraduate degree in business, she continued to follow her passion of photography, and in 2013 was able to successfully launch her photography business. Since then, she has been named one of the 30 rising stars of wedding photography in 2019 by Rangefinder Magazine, Her work has been featured on the cover of Rangefinder Magazine and in Brides, The Knot Magazine, Martha Stewart, HGTV, Black Bride Magazine, and many more. Liz is also a film photography educator that has taught at WPPI, Showit United, and The Hybrid Co. Her ability to artistically translate her couples love through images, has been a catalyst in developing her unique style.
Your responsibility as a business owner to create inclusion in your business and industry:
- Being diverse is more than a business strategy. Don’t advocate for racial justice because it’s good for business. It’s got to be something you really believe in.
- Acknowledge that in this fight, Black and Brown people are up against a lot. And this fight is not going to be easy. It’s going to be uncomfortable.
- We’ll never reach the time when it’s time to let up the effort to be anti-racist
- “I want to put faith in other people to open up their bubble to see how other people live… I have a lot of faith that this is going to be different. It feels different.”
- The Inclusivity Pledge for vendors, venues, brands, publications was created by Elizabeth and Black wedding vendors from across the industry. It’s “the minimum of where we want this to go.”
- “Our ultimate goal is to be included with everyone else. I want to be on this list because my work is good, not because I’m black… We don’t want to be hired just because we’re black. We want to get to a place where our work can shine for itself.”
How can we bring feelings of safety into the wedding industry? How can we keep up the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement without it being swept under the rug?
- Not being racist is not enough. You have to be actively anti-racist.
- An antiracist statement on your website will allow people of color to feel more welcome with you, in addition to feeling safe mentally and physically.
- Inclusivity in workshops, conferences, and styled shoots
- At your next conference, there are things you can do to help bring people of color into the fold in a white-dominated environment:
- Have conversations. Introduce yourself.
- Explore new photography conferences that are hosted by Black people.
- Get out of your shell and talk to new people in order to gain new perspectives.
“Diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusivity is being asked to dance.”
Your responsibility as a citizen/human to fight racism in the world:
- This is a lifelong mission. This isn’t something that can be fixed overnight.
- In order to support Black communities, the support of white people is necessary.
- The civil rights movement wasn’t just Black people. There were lots of people who came together to do what’s right.
- Being an ally is having tough conversations.
- “I’m Black every day. The world is telling me that I’m Black every day. It’s something that’s always at the forefront of my mind.”
- Inside the white bubble, the world can look really rosy. As sensitive as we may be toward the news, it’s not enough to remain in ignorance. You have to take steps to educate yourself.
- “The system is working the way it’s supposed to… We can’t rely or wait for our government to figure this out. We have to make it a personal mission within your heart and in your soul to do something different.”
As storytellers, we have a very powerful way to shift the narrative of what’s happening in the wedding industry.
Images matter. “A little black girl who buys a magazine and is able to see someone that looks like her inside of it… That impact is immeasurable in terms of what that may be in her life.” It matters for children to be able to see themselves in the media.
We are the ones who are going to shape what this wedding industry looks like (and what it doesn’t look like).
Check it out!