Heather of Heather McBride Photography
Heather McBride of Heather McBride Photography offers wedding, family, and personal branding photography. She’s a Philly transplant from NYC and we are so happy to have her. She won the Best of Philly Award for family photographer last year (!!) and wrote an educational piece about how to take non-cheesy family photos here.
She’s someone I haven’t yet met but feel like we’ll have a strong connection based on our common interests — dogs, Love is Blind, working with self-proclaimed awkward people — to name a few. My face usually hurts from smiling after I’ve swiped my way through her Instagram feed.
Shannon: What are the diversity challenges you face, within your business or as an individual?
Heather: I am always trying to make sure that my business reflects the community in which I live. I live in West Philly which is very diverse in race, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. A lot of the people who contact me to work with me are straight, white people, so I am struggling with how to say and show that I want to work with everyone without tokenizing people.
Shannon: You touched upon something that I think a lot of photographers can relate to. Wanting to be more representational, especially in a city as diverse as Philadelphia, and trying to navigate how to get clients authentically and intentionally without tokenizing. As white people, I think we need to be pulling the weight behind diversity and inclusion, since we are the reason these spaces aren’t inclusive.
What are some ways we can brainstorm a new culture in the wedding industry that engages in anti-racism practices? I think talking about it openly and discussing these struggles transparently is an important first step in unpacking our privilege. What are some other ways we can put ourselves out there (ie: networking with vendors who are already connecting with that audience, taking a critical eye at our portfolios or social media presence and being open about our own road blocks, etc.)? By asking questions on social media and being open to having them answered, without judgment or shaming, we show a desire to find out more. We all have blind spots, but we can use our platforms to educate ourselves and others during the process.
Heather: I totally agree with everything you mentioned, actively seeking out networking opportunities with people already serving marginalized communities and asking questions on social media are great ways to making change happen. I think that another thing that I’ve struggled with when thinking about how to be more aware of my blind spots is that I don’t want to go up to a person of color or LGBTQ+ person and be like, ‘how do I serve your community better?’ I feel like I have to do my own research so that I am not putting the burden on them if that makes sense.
Shannon: Absolutely. I think that’s important. I’ll try to work on pulling together a page with helpful resources. What is your experience with working with LGBTQ+ clients?
Heather: I have worked with a lot of LGBTQ+ families and a few wedding clients. Outside of photography, I have worked with the LGBT Elder Initiative as their social media coordinator. Since I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have always struggled with being outspoken about my stance on the matter because it didn’t feel like my place to do so, which I know is incorrect.
Shannon: What are some tangible actions you’re taking as a wedding vendor to be more inclusive of underrepresented communities, without tokenizing them?
Heather: I am pretty sure that I have already taken off all “bride/groom” language from my contracts, questionnaires, and website, but it doesn’t hurt to give it another look. The wedding industry is so saturated with that sort of language that I think it is easy for it to go unnoticed until you really start paying attention which I am trying really hard to do.
Shannon: What’s your favorite part about working in the Philadelphia wedding industry?
Heather: I love that it feels both big and small at the same time. It might be because I am relatively new here, but I don’t really know who the “big-time vendors” are. It feels like there is space for everyone.
Shannon: What are you listening to?
Heather: Music: Overcoats, Electric Guest, and MNEK; Podcasts: Hysteria
Shannon: What’s a pop-culture plug you’d like to share?
Heather: High Fidelity is amazing, but I’ve also unfortunately been sucked into the Love is Blind vortex.