I want to set the intention. I want my projects to be fueled by the values I want to keep at the centre of my brand. I want to create a business that is equitable, inclusive and anti-racist. I want to make a sustainable brand. These are the reasons why I feel it is necessary to create a questionnaire that can help set that intention with my collaborators. Here are the questions I want to include in that questionnaire, and my very own answers to those questions.
1. What are two to three of your brand’s/business’s core values?
I’ve identified three flowery words to wrap up my brand’s values; brilliance, imagination, and significance.
Brilliance means to me the consistent pursuit of the beautiful, of creating beauty and sharing it with the world. As a wedding photographer, when I think of brilliance I think of capturing the light and love of my clients and using those images to shine their light onto the world.
Imagination is key for my brand because here we dream big and our dreams are all about a better world. Our minds are open to learning how we can be better humans and better business people. This pursuit of a better world and a better me has led me to devote time and energy into Anti-racism education. As I do this inner work my hope is that I will be able to better serve my clients and the communities they are a part of.
Significance is the drive, the desire to create beautiful things and help craft a better world. It is the intention to work and run a business with meaning and purpose. It is recognizing the potential impact and influence my work and business could have, and ensuring that that impact and influence is one that leads to the betterment of the spaces I occupy.
2. Couples within the 2SLGBTQ+ community often face alienation within the wedding industry; what has/can your brand/business do to welcome couples that don’t fit into the current heteronormative cookie-cutter wedding templates we see all around us?
I have made an effort over the past few years to plan styled shoots that centre 2SLGBTQ+ couples, in order to expand my own portfolio. Of the four styled shoots, I am a part of each year, at least one is intentionally highlighting a 2SLGBTQ+ couples. In this effort, I also make sure that the couple or models in those shoots are a part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community (for example, we will not be allowing two straight models to act as a queer couple. The models are chosen very carefully and intentionally.
In the future, I would also like to make it a practice to refrain from styling the apparel for these shoots until models have been chosen and have been asked what they feel most comfortable wearing.
On social media and on my website, I aim to make it clear to all couples that I celebrate 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and relationships. This includes being mindful of the gendered language I use (I try not to just address “brides”) to be inclusive both in my social media and website copy and in my forms and contracts (ie. “Partner 1 and Partner 2” in place of “Bride and Groom”).
3. Understanding that representation in our portfolios matters to our clients, what efforts have/will you implement to not only include BIPOC models but to work with (other) BIPOC brands and businesses?
Christina’s Answer: One of my main concerns as I strive to become more inclusive and equitable as a business is that I may make the mistake of tokenizing BIPOC. I’ve made that mistake in the past. Moving forward, I am committed to making my portfolio more reflective of the diverse community I live in, and to making sure to expand my network and circles to reflect that as well. I understand that BIPOC, even in the industries of which I am part, face challenges directly because of racism, and while I can’t understand that lived experience, I can work to disrupt my own inherent biases and those of the individuals I work with.
4. Our brands/businesses operate on lands that were stolen from the indigenous peoples originally inhabiting them. Which First Nations peoples and Treaty territory(ies) does your business operate on? You can use this site to help you learn more about the land your business operates on: https://native-land.ca/
Currently, my business is based in Winnipeg, MB, which is Treaty 1 territory, the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
5. In what areas of your current operations is it possible to make more environmentally sustainable choices?
I have made a number of minor changes to mitigate my environmental impact as a business including becoming almost entirely digital when it comes to contracts, questionnaires and correspondence with photography clients.
In my stained glass arm of the business, I have chosen eco-friendly shipping materials. I would, however, like to dive into and evaluate my supply chain for the raw materials I use for that craft, as I know that the processes for creating those materials are not sustainable. My goal is to offset the carbon footprint of the processing of these materials.
In terms of wedding photography, I’m lucky that my process is largely digital, including delivery of galleries. However, I hope to also find ways to offset the carbon footprint of parts of my operations like the travel to shoot and wedding locations, the office and electronic equipment I use and the extra deliverables I offer.
My hope is that these questions can start conversations and inspire all of us to create with intention. What are your responses? And what questions should I add to this round-up?