The important aspects of operating a creative business (and even more generally speaking) is being good at your craft, passionate about it, and providing your customers with a product of value. Not to mention being good at running the business; keeping things efficient and organized. There’s also a soul that is unique to your business, and that’s you. Your personality, skill set, products, and values are just a few things that make up that soul. That soul is what your business stands for, and what you stand for. Some take this farther than others, but here’s my take on it. Does this mean that all my clients need to agree with me on worldly or personal issues? Of course not. Joe or Martha come to the studio for a headshot, and we enjoy a little friendly banter, and I provide them with what they need. I have no reason to know their political or religious views, and vice versa (even though I hate both of those).
For wedding clients, we connect on a deeper level. We all have to qualify each other; especially with photography style, approach, and personalities. It doesn’t take long for someone viewing my website to see that I’m passionate about serving the LGBTQ community and people of all ethnicities. What you put out there is out there forever, so it pays to make your choice and stick with it. It’s been ten years (before the marriage equality act) that I was approached by a same=sex couple about photographing their wedding. They had to make it official in Massachusetts and have their event here for friends and family. That struck a chord with me. They were very kind and appreciative, and made sure I was comfortable with it. Working with them was one of the best decisions I ever made, on a personal and business level. No one should have to go through that to marry who they love.
I also remember a decade ago, attending a local networking event and talking to a prominent fellow photographer. He wasn’t against me doing LGBT weddings, but advised me that there could be backlash that affected my business for putting it out there, perhaps unnecessarily to some. It didn’t take me long to realize it was worth that risk. After all, if I am welcoming LGBT clients, they have to find me somehow and know they’re safe here. This many years later, at a slightly different point in my photography career, this only generated support for my business. I only got pushback from one religious father of a potential bride, and I called him on his bigotry, we then parted company. Despite this support, could it have deterred others from contacting me? Maybe a few. But I’m ok without them. Ultimately, you have to decide what your business stands for and how you incorporate it into your brand. Is there such a thing as being too opinionated and loud? Yes. But don’t assume you have to be silent either. You decide how to use your voice.