How to be an inclusive photographer and highlight the LGBT community.

Hi! I’m Kelsey, I identify with she/her pronouns. I am a worldwide elopement photographer who runs a multiple six figure business with my husband as a hub and wifey photo and video team! I am a LGBTQ+ ally and believe in the importance of how to be an inclusive photographer. 

Not all weddings look the same. As elopement photographers, we know that better than anyone! We love allll the different weddings- beach, mountains, countries across the fricken globe!! But it’s more than a wedding just looking different because of the place. What makes a wedding special is the PEOPLE! The beautiful, magical, sweet human connection that makes love go round. When you begin to learn how to be an inclusive photographer, the focus is on the inclusion of the people! 

How to be an inclusive photographer and highlight the LGBT community.

Introduction to be an Inclusive Photographer

Firstly, I recognize that this topic can be intimidating to talk about and I want to give everyone reading the kindness and grace to just try. We all make mistakes and as long as we’re coming from the right place, trying to educate ourselves in betterment, we will rise to that occasion. 

EMBRACE the diversity that lives around us. We see a lot of white male and female couples in Montana, and we love them dearly. Our LGBTQ+ friends are special, amazing, and worth celebrating. 

The biggest thing for me is in the wedding industry, you don’t see a lot of LGBTQ+ couples and it is an absolute shame. It’s honestly unacceptable. The larger issue is that it stems from a discrimination of this community worldwide on a much larger, societal scale. That’s the biggest problem that I have with the wedding industry. That’s why I’m an LGBTQ+ ally! Everyone should feel safe and authentic to who they are. It’s NOT OK that society makes these lovely human beings feel bad because of who they love. Love is love. Period. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

How to be an inclusive photographer for the LGBTQ+ community.

What is Inclusivity?

I want to quantify my definition of “inclusive” – this means that all love, bodies, abilities, races, genders and sexualities are celebrated and seen. It’s about being HUMAN and celebrating whatever that looks like. I think we can all agree that being inclusive is good for societal change, bringing in the kindness we want to see in the world, and overall just making the world a better place. Hands down. No questions. 

I believe deep down in my core that everyone should have the right to marry the person they love, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or race. The biggest problem I see with the wedding industry is a white heteronormative skew without the beautiful diversity of people of color, and the queer and trans communities. And sadly, this reflects the real world. People in these marginalized communities often have less access to quality healthcare, lower paying jobs, and harsher living conditions. They’re already seeing the oppression that happens in this country. As a straight white girl, I am an ally to all marginalized communities. This means that although I could never fully understand the pain, struggle, and repression that these communities are under on a daily basis, I am there to support them anyway I can.

How to be an Inclusive Photographer

Unscripted Photographers encompasses the power we have to make a difference, “As visual storytellers, we hold a great deal of power when it comes to shaping narratives about the world. How can we make choices that support that kind of future we’d like to live in? Making your photography practice more inclusive is a great place to start.

Most people think about the camera as a way to accurately depict the world around us. But the truth that all of us photographers know is that to capture an image, we have to make all kinds of decisions about what makes it into the frame. We make choices about what to include and what to leave out, what kind of light to shoot in, and how to construct a visual hierarchy so that our subjects are placed just right. We tell stories with our photographs. Stories are powerful.”

How to be an inclusive photographer for the LGBTQ+ community.
 Be an inclusive photographer for the LGBTQ+ community.


We avoid statements that imply that our weddings are for brides and grooms. It’s for everyone!! Take out the phrases “bride & groom” and “bridal party” right now. Update it to more all inclusive language like, “wedding party” “partner” and “couple.” Seriously, today. Take time to audit your automated emails, contracts, website copy, blog posts, etc. Right now.

As photographers, our job is to make couples feel seen, felt, and understood all while capturing the genuine emotion of our couples. The first step for me is knowing their names and being cognizant of their pronouns! When in doubt, using their names is best, so “give Rebecca some cuddles,” instead of “give her some cuddles.” 

How to be an Inclusive Photographer with Posing

Heteronormative society has taught us from a very early age alllll about gender roles. You know the ones, right? Those masculine and feminine gender roles. Where the “male” is strong and holds the smaller “female” close? Yup. Those. Those are the ones we want to throw right out the goddamn window. 

I talked with a queer couple recently and they shared about how they get assigned gender roles. If one of them is wearing a suit and one of them is wearing a dress, they’ve had photographers assign the suit-wearing person into more masculine energy poses, while they assign the person in the dress to the more “feminine” role. It just puts them into a category they don’t fit into. ALL couples, not just our sweet queer couples, fluctuate between their masculine and feminine energy. We all have a variety of identities and it’s important to embrace all parts of ourselves. 

What is an Inclusive Image?

Always be on the lookout for how couples are interacting because we shouldn’t assume the roles in their relationship. They should have an equal share with equal holdings, equal cuddles, and equal time being held. Never try to fit them into that box of one holding more than the other. Use prompts that are equal in terms of the “support and cuddle” roles. 

Marketing Yourself to be an Inclusive Photographer

Showcase the different love stories!! Full transparency, we don’t photograph as many couples representative of the LGBTQ+ community as we would like. That means you’ll be seeing a lot of Annie and Grace, our couple in Amsterdam and Tracy and Bethany’s Surprise Proposal. Having LGBTQ+ photos front and center lets prospective couples know immediately that you’re someone who wants to help tell their love story.

Two easy ways to make sure your website and social media presence are inclusive is to have big AF disclaimers! Pride isn’t just for the month of June, amiright?! For my instagram bio, I have a little rainbow flag and “all lovers” right there so people know. On the homepage of my website, I have a banner that states: “just to be abundantly clear, Honeybee is an all inclusive business. That means ALL love, bodies, abilities, races, genders, and sexualities are celebrated and welcomed here. It’s not a trend, it’s just how we do things.”

Partnerships to be an Inclusive Photographer

I take my allyship pretty seriously. It’s not just about having a few couples posted on social media, it’s about using my platform to raise awareness of minority causes. I’m pretty loud and proud about my advocacy and that means more to me than anything else. 

We seek out partnerships with LGBTQ+ vendors and allys! For Vi and Bryan’s Iceland Elopement at Reynisfjara we reached out to Pink Iceland who slayed with Vi’s hair and makeup. Pink Iceland tells you front and center on their website, “We are a values based company owned and run by members of the LGBTQ+ community. We strive for equality, respect, honesty, sustainability & kindness. We hope you do too.” 

Hair and Makeup by Pink Iceland

At Honeybee Weddings, we are going to be fucking loud and proud about our inclusiveness. Not only do we partner with vendors who have the same values as we do, we promote the fuck out of them. No ifs, ands, or buts. 

Ask for Feedback!

We photographers don’t know it all and it’s important to be honest about our blind spots. If you’re feeling stuck, you could run a little focus group of your diverse friends and ask them some questions about your biz. Ask if they would feel welcome in your brand? Would they question your stance on creativity? 

The Heart of It

To be an inclusive photographer benefits your clients because, as a wedding/elopement photographer, this is the most important day of their lives. Additionally, queer and trans couples might’ve experienced push back from their families, friends, and loved ones. They might get dirty looks on the street when they’re holding hands together. Everyone deserves to feel loved, accepted, and seen. 

The other thing I get enraged with is when there’s these HUGE stereotypes. Annie and Grace, my sweet couple in Amsterdam, told me a story – they’re at the bar together as a couple and strange men will interrupt their date time and say, “forget your lesbian girlfriend, marry me instead.” Dude. Back the f*ck off. I have so much issue with that. When I see stuff like that, I skip sad and go straight to mad. It’s unacceptable. I wish that people could take a step back and look at a different perspective.

If they had anything like that happen to them personally, it would be hurtful. And they can’t even sit in that space long enough to realize that. I’m an LGBTQ+ ally because the more allies the better. The more that heterosexual people can be educated to what our LGBTQ+ community goes through, the better. Some of these sweet little humans have families who don’t approve, so face stress and sometimes as much as banishment from their own families. It’s all because of the person they love and they have no choice in that.

Be an inclusive photographer and an LGBTQ+ ally

That Stats of it

Let me throw some hard numbers at you here. I’m located in the US, but I think the entire world can take pieces of this lesson. In 2020, the US census reported that same-sex married couples accounted for .5% of the population. That’s 830,000 couples! And that’s not even accounting for trans relationships. In the 2022 US census, a total of 43.6% of the population were listed as one of these categories: 

  • Black or African American
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native
  • Asian 
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
  • Two or more races
  • Hispanic or Latino

That’s 144,752,000 people, 72,376,000 couples! I mean, the numbers speak for themselves! If you’re a business looking to expand into another market, this is it! The benefit of being inclusive for a business is that we can foster a culture of diversity and inclusion of people from different backgrounds, lifestyles, and perspectives. 

What I have Been Working on to be an Inclusive Photographer

First, I think we can all be learning more, photographing more diverse couples! I’ve recently reached out to my local LGBTQ+ Center here in Montana where I’m looking forward to volunteering my photography services! Giving back where you can is the most important form of advocacy. 

Most importantly, build relationships! With ALL humans! The better you can serve your clients and get to know them, the better their story will translate in your art!

Giving Back

My momma taught me to leave the world better than I found it. I’ve carried it with me from childhood and it’s now one of Honeybee Weddings’ brand promises. Something that I’ve started with my 2024 couples is for every collection booked, a 5% donation goes to one of these three non-profit organizations: the National Park foundation, NAACP, or the Clean Air Task Force. The client gets to decide where their money can go. I’m really looking forward to seeing how much money we can raise to really make a difference. From a business standpoint, that’s just one more reason to be inclusive. You can make steps to truly change things.

Another way to be an inclusive photographer and give back is by offering mini sessions for the LGBTQ+ community and offering to donate all of the money earned to a non-profit. 

If you want to donate to the cause to help spread awareness and help this community, please make donations to The Trevor Project.

If you would like us to help tell your love story, contact us. Can’t wait to hear all about you and your sweetheart!

How be an inclusive photographer and ways to support LGBTQ+ couples.
how to be an inclusive photographer.
Be an inclusive photographer and build your business.
How to be an inclusive photographer and build an inclusive business.

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