Brittney Raine of Brittney Raine Photography
Brittney Raine of Brittney Raine Photography offers wedding and event photography and portraiture and is an absolute gem of a human. She’s great at making clients feel instantly comfortable and a peer who is always inspiring me to do better.
We’ve shot weddings side by side, shared an exorbitant amount of cheese plates, and attended an interactive discussion about intersectionality by Ericka Hart that left me forever changed. And not just because we had to pair up and look into each other’s eyes for five minutes of self-reflective silence.
Shannon: What are the diversity challenges you face, within your business or as an individual?
Brittney: Making sure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable throughout their wedding process! Promoting equality and inclusion without tokenizing anyone. Weddings are extremely personal, so it’s in the nature of the business that people will only go with vendors who show photos of others who look like them. It can be an endless loop — you can’t share photos celebrating diversity if you don’t book those clients, and you can’t book them if you don’t have diverse photos to share. Bridging that gap responsibly is so important!
Shannon: What is your experience with working with LGBTQ+ clients?
Brittney: Only a small fraction of my wedding clients over the years are LGBTQ+, which is a personal disappointment of mine, and something I’m constantly trying to change. I’m a bisexual/fluid woman engaged to a man, but I know that I present as heterosexual and it’s a privilege most LGBTQ+ people don’t have.
While this is common knowledge to most people in my life, I have struggled with being out and open about it in my career. I don’t face the same challenges as many queer folks do, so it’s left me in limbo with a little bit of impostor syndrome about sharing my identity with clients. However, the community is near and dear to my heart, and I would love to work with more LGBTQ+ folks!
Shannon: I really appreciate you being so honest and open about your struggles. Erica Smith, a Philadelphia-based sex educator, shared something on Instagram that has stuck with me ever since: “Your sexual identity is separate from your partnerships.” She opened up a discussion about what queerness means if someone is in a relationship that is read as straight or hetero. Like, does it exist if no one can see it? Of course it does, but society can make people feel like their sexual identity isn’t valid. You are increasing representation by honoring your identity and showing people the different ways bisexuality can look, when stereotypes have perpetuated a certain stigma. Honoring and speaking about that doesn’t take away from other folks’, especially when you are aware of your privilege.
What are some steps we can take, as wedding photographers, to resist this idea of what a certain gender identity or sexual orientation might look like? Especially with bisexuality, which so often faces bisexual erasure. I’ve had clients share their frustrations of feeling like their identity is determined by their partnerships, but it’s not that simple and can leave so many people feeling lost. I think by sharing, you’re probably making a lot of potential clients feel less isolated, which is invaluable.
Brittney: Thank you for this! I totally emphatically agree, and it’s definitely been a struggle throughout my adult life to figure out where I belong in a community that I often feel like an outsider in.
Shannon: What are some tangible actions you’re taking as a wedding vendor to be more inclusive of underrepresented communities, without tokenizing them?
Brittney: Changing my language on my website, contracts, pricing guide, questionnaires, etc, so that people can tell me how they identify themselves and I can follow their lead. I make sure to showcase photos featuring all kinds of people, and the equal relationship between them (versus the wedding magazines and blogs who often only show one person — a “bride”).
Shannon: What are you listening to?
Brittney: I am obsessed with The Moth podcast + live events. Some of their stories have made me laugh, made me cry, and many have stayed with me. Plus, the quick nature of the stories is great for those of us with short attention spans.
Brittney: So many! I love @alevidal for dreamy films, @mattarmendariz for food photography, @pattiegonia for outdoors/hiking + important conversations, @
historycoolkids for interesting historical facts, and @catalystwedco for excellent wedding industry content.