One of the most important things about being an LGBTQ+ wedding and elopement photographer who wants to be part of radical change in the wedding industry is connecting with other like-minded photographers to share stories and knowledge. The community and standards we build together will pave the way for the future!
This week in my podcast, I spoke with D (they/them) and Meg (she/her/they/them) from River and Root photography to talk about their experiences in this industry and how they intentionally run their business to change the wedding industry for the better.
River and Root is a name symbolizing movement, growth, and symbiosis. At the heart of their brand, D and Meg strive for inclusivity, continuous improvement, and unwavering support for the LGBTQ+ community.
As the founder of River and Root Photography, D wanted a business partner who was just as jazzed about this venture as they were. Meg brought the perfect balance that D was looking for, and the couple learned to discover not only how to share their lives as romantic partners but how to share the business and take it to the next level.
As queer photographers, D, Meg, and I know the importance of identity and how it shapes our businesses.
“Being queer gives us the eyes on the ground,” comments D. They understand what other people might be experiencing, which may include worrying about how others will perceive them during photoshoots. D also sees the importance of representation in the wedding industry — by showing up as they are, the hope is that others will feel comfortable expressing themselves too.
“Queerness is a superpower,” Meg adds. Having an LGBTQ+ identity brings the ability to connect deeper with others’ lived experiences and varied interpretations of the word “queer.” This awareness allows all folks to be open about who they are. Creating this space to welcome others with open arms comes with intentional practices. “For us, that means asking pronouns, talking about boundaries, and talking about queer experiences.”
When D and Meg work with straight couples, the same rules apply: they still ask for pronouns and discuss boundaries. Making this the standard across the board reminds everyone that assumptions are a big no. It also makes awareness and mindfulness a more intentional and regular practice — it might inspire these couples to ask for pronouns and re-evaluate their biases with the people they interact with in the future.
As queer photographers, we often have to be hypervigilant about our identities in the wedding space. We don’t always know how family and guests will receive us during shoots. While code-switching (temporarily changing or hiding parts of you to fit into dominant cultures) is a very real experience for queer photographers, D finds that “more of the couples are actively advocating and using it as a teachable moment for their family.” This general trend is promising news for the future, but there’s still lots of work needed.
Businesses often claim to be accepting but fail to show it. “Folks will say they’re inclusive, but their image-based marketing only promotes straight, non-disabled, white, cis, heterosexual couples,” comments D. All businesses should bear responsibility. “If you see inclusivity but don’t think it’s your responsibility to incorporate that in your business, you’re already behind.”
For all wedding vendors out there, start by researching why this is important and commit to intentional change, even if it’s the little things, like changing the language on your website.
Using gendered language on your website and social media or refusing to validate different identities can be forms of microaggression. Saying you’re inclusive but not showing it affirms the (wrong) idea that LGBTQ+ people don’t exist in the wedding industry. “If you have to dig for representation, it’s not visibility,” says D.
It’s also important to actively show your stance against hate. For example, D deletes harmful comments because they want their social platforms to be a place where queer folks will feel seen, not hurt. If your business turns a blind eye to these comments, you’re also turning your back on supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
Being intentional about inclusivity and representation is essential. If you do it to hop on a trend or avoid scrutiny, you’re not helping the LGBTQ+ community. On the other hand, if you genuinely want to work with queer people and welcome them into a safe space, you’re likely doing it for the right reasons. People of all identities deserve to be represented by service providers who value them. This shows folks that there’s a place for them in this world.
At the end of the day, as queer wedding photographers, we want your special day to be everything you dream of and more. Here is some advice that D and Meg offer to all LGBTQ+ folks wanting to get married:
If anything came to life from my discussion with D and Meg, it’s that as queer wedding photographers, we are whole-heartedly and relentlessly in your corner. Every day, we encounter situations that show us how far inclusivity has come but also how far it still has to go to truly make LGBTQ+ folks feel empowered to exist as they are. We’re here for you and will work tirelessly to ensure your love stories are seen and heard.
If you’d like to talk more about how queer wedding photographers can be your biggest advocates, reach out to me and let’s have a conversation! While you’re at it, check out D and Meg’s stunning work with LGBTQ+ couples at River and Root Photography.
If you want to learn more about D and Meg and their business, check out my interview with them in my podcast, Queerly Beloved. Can’t wait to catch you there!