― Audre Lorde
In our current social climate, photographers have a lot of control in terms of what sorts of people get admired or featured or held up as beautiful. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve already skimmed through countless wedding websites… did you notice the majority of the people featured are fair skinned, fair haired, thin, and able–bodied?
Don’t believe me? Look again. I’ll wait.
The moment this occurred to me I made it my mission to reevaluate my portfolio regularly and ask myself, “Who isn’t represented enough? Who isn’t represented at all? How do I hold myself accountable for that?”
I strive to give potential clients the opportunity to see other people with bodies or relationships or perceived imperfections like their own depicted in a photograph or series of photographs that are executed with the same care, technique, and quality as those photos of normatively pretty people.
To crib heavily from adrienne marie brown’s book, “Emergent Strategy” (and perhaps also from Octavia Butler’s literary work in general), hierarchy is ultimately detrimental while compassion and love and community create the strongest environment for *everyone* to prosper. She (brown) explains that “when we are engaged in love, we humans are at our best and most resilient. The love in romance that makes us want to be better people, the love of children that makes us change our whole lives to meet their needs, the love of family that makes us drop everything to take care of them, the love of community that makes us work tirelessly with broken hearts.”
I think that being intentional about curating a portfolio/social media presence that showcases bodies and relationships that aren’t necessarily mainstream (i.e. all bodies on a boudoir blog, queer couples of any combination, polyamorous relationships, queer/poly families) is a really revolutionary way to create a sense of inclusivity where there so typically isn’t.
I don’t want to be stuck with life the way I think life is— I want to make art that pushes back, art that acts as a megaphone— a visual voice— a tool to help empower people with confidence and worthiness and validation in the form of a photograph.
Let‘s make some art, fam.
– Pema Chödrön