Why photographers shouldn't hide their nontraditional brides

Guestpost by Kirsten Hansen on Apr. 18th

You've seen her wedding, and if you're a Tribe member she's probably answered one or a million of your questions, but now Kirsten aka LittleRedLupine the Offbeat Bride Tribe Community Manager has a few questions for wedding photographers.

Offbeat Brides love our photographers. They are the ones who capture our weddings forever, showing our beauty and love in an unexpected dip for a kiss, toasts that made us (and our friends) cry, and our friends and family sharing in our commitment. We choose them for their talent and we know they can rock an offbeat wedding. Heck, lots of them are enthusiastic about the chance to shoot something a little different and have a lot of fun. Some of them are even offbeat themselves.

So why the heck do so many photographers have Facebook profiles and websites that don't reflect this?

Why do some photographers choose to show only wedding photos of couples that look like they belong in the most traditional bridal magazines? When I, as a prospective client (and even a former client!), visit a portfolio, I want to be able to see myself reflected. I want to see variety! Why is every bride skinny, white, and in a big white dress? Why is every groom perfectly styled in a suit or tux? Why do some photographers choose the most homogeneous batch of images for their portfolio?

I'm betting most of them shoot other weddings and do a fabulous job of it. I've seen the photos from my own wedding which look damn good, if I do say so myself. Those pictures are as good as anything else I've seen on a photographer's page. I've seen all the amazing photos from other weddings on Offbeat Bride so I know it isn't just my offbeat wedding that looks great in photos.

But when photographers don't show it off, nobody else knows they can do it.

As far as I can tell, it's a matter of marketing, and for those photographers who choose to display only the most stereotypical of couples and weddings, they are doing it wrong. People the world over have been speaking up for years, saying that they want to see themselves in magazines, on television, on blogs, in clothing. If we can't identify with the marketing, we won't trust that the company will "get" us.

Let's be honest: chances are that not all photographers' clients are skinny, white brides and well-groomed, athletic white grooms.

This is extra important for a couple hunting a professional wedding photographer. We want to know that they'll do a good job of capturing us and our commitment, right? If they can't prove that they can photograph someone like me and my partner, why would we give them large sums of money and just assume it will be okay? Heck, why would we assume they'd even want to take us on as clients if we're so outside their regular clientele?

I know, I know, their main market is probably still expecting a traditional wedding (a la Wedding Industrial Complex). So no, they probably do not want to be showcasing a goth wedding or a tattooed and pierced couple that might scare off potential clients (unless they're an uber cool offbeat photographer). But there is absolutely nothing wrong with showing a beautiful — but different — wedding. Let's be honest: chances are that not all their clients are skinny, white brides and well-groomed, athletic white grooms.

I would like to challenge those photographers to show off what they can do so the next potential client who comes along wanting something offbeat won't be fooled into thinking that photographer can't or won't do a kickass job. Trust me, it's worth it. More photographers need to trust themselves and their work. Beautiful photographs aren't going to turn off potential clients just because they're of plus size brides in red or grooms in bowling shirts.

I'm thankful I and my dude knew the truth before we looked at a portfolio. But the next couple may not.

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About Kirsten Hansen

Kirsten is an academic out in the world, or at least out in Canada. She has been involved in teaching university courses, worked for a non-profit organization, researched and played with technology, and is an occasional freelance writer. When not working, she can usually be found with her nose in a book, playing video games with her husband, designing jewelry or cards or baking something delicious. Her house has been likened to a zoo with three cats and two ferrets frequently misinterpreting who is in charge.