Style Me Pretty And Why I Am Not Buying Other Photographers Calls For Inclusion

Last Thursday I shared Style Me Pretty's announcement that the owner of the blog was able to regain control of the business and would be continuing the blog after all.  For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let me give you the important details.  Style Me Pretty is the largest wedding blog in the world and for the last 10 years photographers everywhere have coveted to have their work featured on the site.  Style Me Pretty has a very particular wedding atheistic though.  They love light and airy images that feature stunning florals, the most beautiful of gowns and lavish, stylish details.  And they also really love thin, white brides.  They were bought out awhile back by AOL and they decided that keeping Style Me Pretty open wasn't worth it, and thus it was to go offline the end of this month, until owner Abby was able to require it.  It's been a mess.  And in the middle of it all, a conversation about the diversity has sprung up.  

For years, inclusivity minded wedding professionals have been begging the brand to do more than just say that love is for everyone, but to show a wider variety of content and couples on their site, to little avail.  They rarely feature LGBT couples (let alone a trans* or queer couple) and even more rare, a black bride or groom or a plus size, fat bodied person.  Its honestly gross.  One of the biggest resources to couples planning their wedding day, who is dedicated to providing beautiful inspiration, doesn't see LGBTQ, people of color or bigger people as beautiful or worthy of their site.  

What sparked my post on facebook last week though was how quickly some of the local photographers I know have spoken out now that Style Me Pretty is staying, saying that they hope to see more diversity in the brands reboot.  Which sounds great right?  Photographers calling for more inclusion and diversity makes it seem like maybe the industry is changing right?  But these are the same photographers who think it "makes them cool to photograph a same sex wedding" but have no interest in working with a queer couple who uses they/them pronouns.  They also are the same photographers who don't have people of color in their portfolios, who struggle to work with plus size and fat bodies, who parade more thin, white, cis gendered clients on social media. And they are the same ones who have told me that they believe my marriage is sinful and would send me to hell but also "love love, so send me all your queer friends mmkay?"  

Before I started writing this, I was editing and fighting back tears thinking about how this incredible couple who's wedding I am working on would have been treated by any other photographer.  In an industry that has LOVE at the heart of it, that shouldn't be a concern but it is. I think about the couples I have submitted to publications and been told that "their wedding just isn't the right fit" which is code for my couple is too fat, too queer, too different, not white. I think about my amazing brides who had/have to face buying a dress in a world where size 2 is the standard. I think about how just last week a photographer said she was only taking clients who she felt she was a good fit for stylistically, which let's be real, is a nice way of saying I am too fat, too gay and not pretty enough for her brand.  I think about every one of my GN, trans and queer friends who are "just weird" to the photographers in this area and would never have their pronouns respected.  I think about all the couples who have told me stories of being turned down or judged or rejected because of who they are or who they love.  

This isn't some random group of people that I am going to bat for. These are my friends, my clients, the people in my community, hell even Jordan and I. These are people who deserve better, who aren't some checkbox to mark off by having shot "one of."  And I am overwhelmed with how to make the local photographers around me see that even though they are acknowledging that there is is problem, that they are also part of the problem.  

It's not hard to have a variety of clients in your portfolio, especially when you live in or near one the largest metropolitan cities in the United States.  It's not hard to learn more about different cultures or customs or the LGBTQ community when the internet is full of information.  It takes you being willing to take the time to learn.  Its part of your job as a photographer to know how to pose and communicate and expose properly literally anyone who comes to you.  So stop being lazy or hiding behind religion or saying that "this is just how you shoot" when you can and should do better.  It's not hard.  It's time consuming.  And requires you to see your own biases, which can feel overwhelming.  But thats the real heart of calling for inclusion...calling for it within yourself first. 

What I know I can do is to change my small little corner of the internet.  I can post, with great joy and celebration, the couples who have trusted me to photographer their love.  I can share their stories and show off their beautiful love and be willing to do so in a way that doesn't tokenize them, but makes them feel like they matter to me.  This is what my job is about.  This what photographers should be focused on...not fakely bitching on the internet about how much they want to see inclusion but never doing anything to be more inclusive themselves.  But since I can only control what I do, not what others do, I am going to share below just SOME of the beautiful folks I have been able to work with over the years, because they are what this industry is about.  They are what is core of inspiration and style and beauty and strength and I am so incredibly honored to know each of them.  And I can only hope that somewhere on another corner of the internet a photographer scrolls through these images and realizes just how whitewashed, not diverse or inclusive their work actually is and inspires them to change that.  

 Rita and Angela had the sweetest wedding at The Maas Building despite rain messing up all of our plans.  Their love for each other couldn't be dampened by a little rain 

Rita and Angela had the sweetest wedding at The Maas Building despite rain messing up all of our plans.  Their love for each other couldn't be dampened by a little rain 

 
 Alyssa and Kim get married in September but we celebrated their engagement with a photo session at Philadelphia Magic Gardens last fall!  These two have the most incredible wedding outfits and style and even more than that, they support each other so beautifully!   

Alyssa and Kim get married in September but we celebrated their engagement with a photo session at Philadelphia Magic Gardens last fall!  These two have the most incredible wedding outfits and style and even more than that, they support each other so beautifully!   

 
 Fall + a cute puppy and the sweetest guys in love?  Magic if you ask me.  

Fall + a cute puppy and the sweetest guys in love?  Magic if you ask me.  

 
 Brooke surprised us all when she got down on one knee during a sweetheart session and asked Gabby to spend the rest of her life as her wife.  Gabby's face says it all and it was one of my favorite moments I have ever photographed.  

Brooke surprised us all when she got down on one knee during a sweetheart session and asked Gabby to spend the rest of her life as her wife.  Gabby's face says it all and it was one of my favorite moments I have ever photographed.  

 
 Katie and Celeste got married Jan 2nd 2017 just weeks before Trump became president because they feared what the future might bring.  They allowed me to plan them the most beautiful styled shoot turned elopement and it was one of the best things I have done in my career.  Their theme was inspired after Mary Lamberts "My Love She Keeps Me Warm" because even amid chilly political times, love always wins.  

Katie and Celeste got married Jan 2nd 2017 just weeks before Trump became president because they feared what the future might bring.  They allowed me to plan them the most beautiful styled shoot turned elopement and it was one of the best things I have done in my career.  Their theme was inspired after Mary Lamberts "My Love She Keeps Me Warm" because even amid chilly political times, love always wins.  

 
 While these two aren't engaged or married, they are one of the most social justice minded couples I know.  And are madly in love to boot.  I was so grateful Eric and Javeon let me capture some sweet photos of them loving on each other on the streets of Manayunk!

While these two aren't engaged or married, they are one of the most social justice minded couples I know.  And are madly in love to boot.  I was so grateful Eric and Javeon let me capture some sweet photos of them loving on each other on the streets of Manayunk!

 
 Crystal and Marissa asked Jordan and I to both witness and photograph their elopement shortly after Trump became president because they were afraid of what might come between then and their beautiful wedding many months later.  I loved watching these two commit their lives to each other in their living room, because love is all that its about anyways.  

Crystal and Marissa asked Jordan and I to both witness and photograph their elopement shortly after Trump became president because they were afraid of what might come between then and their beautiful wedding many months later.  I loved watching these two commit their lives to each other in their living room, because love is all that its about anyways.  

 
 Alex and Lee got married at Alex's family farm in the burbs of Philadelphia and it was the sweetest celebration and is also one of my favorite weddings of all time.  Lee chose to go by "broom" - a combo of bride and groom and I love that they found a way to give themselves a title that felt right for them!  

Alex and Lee got married at Alex's family farm in the burbs of Philadelphia and it was the sweetest celebration and is also one of my favorite weddings of all time.  Lee chose to go by "broom" - a combo of bride and groom and I love that they found a way to give themselves a title that felt right for them!  

 
 I am a little biased here but I think Liv is one of the greatest people in the world.  She is a fellow photographer but lives all the way in Grand Rapids MI so when we happened to be near her and man Maxx, we HAD to make photos of them happen.  If you want another social justice, queer, amazing photog to follow, check her out  HERE .  

I am a little biased here but I think Liv is one of the greatest people in the world.  She is a fellow photographer but lives all the way in Grand Rapids MI so when we happened to be near her and man Maxx, we HAD to make photos of them happen.  If you want another social justice, queer, amazing photog to follow, check her out HERE.  

 
 Speaking of Michigan - Trista and her beautiful bride Erin had Jordan and I come to Ann Arbor Michigan for their amazing summer wedding.  I have no words for much I adore these two and how awesome its been to watch them support each other and grow as both people and a couple!

Speaking of Michigan - Trista and her beautiful bride Erin had Jordan and I come to Ann Arbor Michigan for their amazing summer wedding.  I have no words for much I adore these two and how awesome its been to watch them support each other and grow as both people and a couple!

 
 Courtney and Fame are one super awesome power couple who is always demanding our community step up and do more.  But they are also two sweeties in love too.  And I adore both sides of them!  

Courtney and Fame are one super awesome power couple who is always demanding our community step up and do more.  But they are also two sweeties in love too.  And I adore both sides of them!  

 These two had me crying along side time at their beautiful elopement last fall.  There is something that gets me about two fellow queers pledging their lives, whatever that might look like, to each other.  

These two had me crying along side time at their beautiful elopement last fall.  There is something that gets me about two fellow queers pledging their lives, whatever that might look like, to each other.  

 
 While Jess (on the right) is one of my dearest friends and is the co-owner of inclusivity minded lingerie brand  Fortuna Femme , I honestly can say, that there is nothing more magical that watching a powerhouse like her fall deeply in love with a fellow badass like Rebecca.  And I adore these two babes to pieces.  

While Jess (on the right) is one of my dearest friends and is the co-owner of inclusivity minded lingerie brand Fortuna Femme, I honestly can say, that there is nothing more magical that watching a powerhouse like her fall deeply in love with a fellow badass like Rebecca.  And I adore these two babes to pieces.  

 
 Bianca and Rosea perfectly embody what I love most about my job.  They love each other so immensely that anyone around them can feel it.  And I am stupid excited to photograph their beautiful love again on their wedding day in August!!  

Bianca and Rosea perfectly embody what I love most about my job.  They love each other so immensely that anyone around them can feel it.  And I am stupid excited to photograph their beautiful love again on their wedding day in August!!  

 
 Lizz and Ali are planning the most beautiful offbeat summer camp themed wedding and I love it all!  Weddings can be anything you want them to be, and I am so happy they are going with something that feels so incredible them, even if its not "traditional!"

Lizz and Ali are planning the most beautiful offbeat summer camp themed wedding and I love it all!  Weddings can be anything you want them to be, and I am so happy they are going with something that feels so incredible them, even if its not "traditional!"

 
 Tia and Rachel celebrated 10 years together this past March and they hired me to capture so images of them, being well, them.  We shot around my studio and they spent the whole session making each other laugh, which honestly, is the cutest thing ever!!!

Tia and Rachel celebrated 10 years together this past March and they hired me to capture so images of them, being well, them.  We shot around my studio and they spent the whole session making each other laugh, which honestly, is the cutest thing ever!!!

 
 I had always wanted to shoot around West Philly and these two made that dream a reality.  They wanted their engagement session to reflect them and so went went to their fav coffee shop, grocery store, book store and park and needless to say, the pictures are perfection.  

I had always wanted to shoot around West Philly and these two made that dream a reality.  They wanted their engagement session to reflect them and so went went to their fav coffee shop, grocery store, book store and park and needless to say, the pictures are perfection.  

 
 Monet will go down as one of my most beautiful brides ever and I still get chills thinking about her wedding.  How perfect are these two??

Monet will go down as one of my most beautiful brides ever and I still get chills thinking about her wedding.  How perfect are these two??

 
 Arielle and Mary shared one of the most emotional first looks I've ever photographed and what I loved about it was how all those feels came from a place of these two beaing so excited to finally be wife and wife.  

Arielle and Mary shared one of the most emotional first looks I've ever photographed and what I loved about it was how all those feels came from a place of these two beaing so excited to finally be wife and wife.  

 

Last but not least, I couldn't pick a fav from Simon and Heather's wedding because the shot on the left doesn't have Heather in it but is one of my favorite wedding photos I have ever taken.  Not because of how great it is, but because of the beautiful moment it captures.  Simon read vows to their little one P and it left us all in tears.