Nellie Morgan of Nellie M Photography
Nellie Morgan of Nellie M Photography specializes in photography, from weddings and engagement sessions to lifestyle shoots. I’ve had the pleasure of working together with Nellie many times and I’m always comforted by her calm demeanor and professionalism.
Being a small business owner and parent is a hard thing to juggle, but Nellie makes it look effortless, while being real about her roadblocks. She’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and treats everyone equally. Not only did she get my back when I had to miss shoots during my brain surgery scare, but I’m always envious of her boutonniere pinning skills. We talked about how to communicate difficult conversations with our kids and shifting our perspective from finding “ideal clients” to being “ideal vendors.”
Shannon: What are the diversity challenges you face, within your business or as an individual?
Nellie: Making sure everyone feels comfortable to be themselves and showing that I am inclusive of everyone, without tokenizing. Personally, just to raise my children to be the exact same way. My husband and I were blessed with really wonderful parents who taught us both to be open. Conversations happen at home about being accepting and loving to others.
Shannon: I think that’s so important. So many people think kids can’t handle difficult conversations, but even babies notice differences like skin color, eye shape, and hair texture. What’s some advice you have for parents on how to handle these sensitive conversations?
Nellie: I know that a lot of parents will have their own points of view on this matter and I don’t think that there is one right answer. As a parent, we know our kids best and the best way to communicate with them. For us, we’ve always just tried to talk to our children like people. I explain things in a pretty matter-of-fact way without giving an overabundance of information to them and I’ve found that my kids listen. We also have people in our lives who are LGBTQ+ and/or POC which helps our childrens’ view of the world. To them, two men can get married and that’s perfectly normal, as it should be.
Shannon: What is your experience with working with LGBTQ+ clients?
Nellie: I have had the pleasure to work with LGBTQ+ clients throughout the span of my business, but the percentage is definitely less. However, every single one of those clients have been friends or someone I’ve personally known, and it means the world to me that they’ve chosen me for such an important task. I was raised to just see people as people so its important to me that my business represents everyone equally.
Shannon: What are some tangible actions you’re taking as a wedding vendor to be more inclusive of underrepresented communities, without tokenizing them?
Nellie: I changed the language on my website to be more inclusive as well as my inquiry form, questionnaires, etc. I try to make sure that the photos I’m showing are including POC and LGBTQ+ couples and moments instead of the typical “bridal” look that a lot of blogs and magazines promote. I also have tried to disassociate with any venue or vendor that I am aware is anti-LGBTQ+. I definitely know that this is something that I can continue to learn more about and grow from. I just signed up for Equally Wed’s course (Thanks Shannon for recommending it).
Shannon: I agree, it’s a work in progress for all of us, but I’m so grateful vendors like you exist who aren’t afraid of confronting discomfort and who are actively taking step to make their business more inclusive. I really appreciate how inclusive the homepage of your website is. I know your site redesign is something you’ve been working on continuously. What has that process been like, as far as visualizing the type of clientele you’d like to attract and making a safe space for them via branding and revamping your website?
Nellie: Thank you Shannon, that means a lot coming from you. You’re definitely an inspiration to others on how important this is. You ask the best questions! I hope I can explain this in the best way possible… I don’t really visualize a “type of clientele” because I don’t want to leave anyone out. In the wedding industry, we talk a lot about our “ideal clients” but I think it needs to shift to being an “ideal vendor.” What that means to me is that I really need to be making sure my website and language isn’t excluding anyone. As I’ve been working on my website, I’ll take a step back and really try to look at my website from outside my own world. Is the language I’m using exclusive or offensive in some way? Are my photos representing POC and LGBTQ+. I also reach out to family and friends look over my website for another point of view. All of this is really eye-opening. Once you start to look for it, it’s easier to see. I’ve become very aware of exclusive language in the wedding industry, but years ago, when I was just starting out, I know I missed some of that.Finally, I was able to sign up for the Equally Wed course and am starting to delve into that which I know will really help me recognize anything I’m missing when it comes to my business being a safe space.
Shannon: What’s your favorite part about working in the Philadelphia wedding industry?
Nellie:This is a tough one! There are so many things. I’ve met some really really amazing people through this business who I now consider good friends. I also love that Philadelphia is such an amazing and diverse city and as photographers it is job to document the real people that make up this city correctly.
Shannon: What are you listening to?
Nellie: Sadly, nothing at the moment but I have a bunch on my list! I’ve been committed to updating my website, blogs, getting published, and taking care of my family at the moment.
Shannon: What’s a pop-culture plug you’d like to share?
Nellie: I’m catching up on Travelers on Netflix. I also just finally sat down to watch Joker, which I found to be a really amazing movie. You can tell that Joaquin Phoenix completely immersed himself in this role. Mental health is also something I find extremely important to be aware of. If I wasn’t a photographer I think I would have been a social worker or therapist (I studied this in college). There were certain moments in the movie that I was really taken aback at how they captured the chaos that can be in one person’s mind all at once.
Shannon: Who are some of your favorite Instagram follows?
Nellie: So many! A lot of my photographer friends (too many to name), @nealsantos for food photography, @drewdoggettphotography for the amazing horses, @pokeypotpie for the cutest adoptable cats ever, and @equallywed for their ability to share real couples.