126. Embracing Inclusion in Photography: Lessons from Kelsey of Honey Bee Weddings

In the world of wedding photography, inclusion isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a necessary approach to ensure that every couple feels seen, heard, and valued. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Kelsey from Honey Bee Weddings, an advocate and leader in inclusive wedding photography. Our conversation unearthed valuable insights and actionable steps for photographers looking to make their businesses more inclusive and sustainable.

Kelsey is an acclaimed elopement photographer, business coach and success hype girl to trailblazing entrepreneurs! She came into this world kickin’ and climbing (just ask her mom). When she wasn’t climbing rocks and making mud pies, she was making sandcastles of her empire. She’s taken her love of photography, business, and belief in the power of nature and turned that into a multiple six figure business. She wake up in the morning every damn day to empower others that they are worthy of a self-loving life FULL of adventure! 

The Heartbeat of Inclusion

Kelsey shared her journey from picking up a hand-me-down film camera to running a successful, multiple six-figure photography business. But what stood out was her passion for inclusive photography. Kelsey defines inclusion as celebrating all love, bodies, abilities, races, genders, and sexualities. To her, being human is enough reason to be celebrated, irrespective of one’s background or identity.

Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Photography

Kelsey’s experiences have taught her that the key to successful inclusion in wedding photography lies in three main areas: understanding societal issues, creating a welcoming space through language, and actively combating discrimination.

Understanding Societal Issues

Acknowledging the social climate and challenges faced by marginalized communities is vital. Kelsey, with her background in sociology and psychology, highlights the importance of understanding the repression and obstacles faced by minorities. This understanding is the first step towards creating a more inclusive approach in business practices.

Language Matters

Another significant takeaway from our conversation was the impact of language on inclusion. Kelsey suggests simple yet powerful modifications like including pronouns in emails and on social media bios, and adjusting the terminology in questionnaires and contracts to be more gender-neutral. These changes can let clients know they’re entering a space where their identity is respected.

Combating Discrimination Actively

Kelsey’s approach goes beyond mere acceptance; it’s about actively fighting discrimination. She shared a heartfelt story of a prospective client asking if she was comfortable photographing a queer couple. This moment was a wake-up call for Kelsey, highlighting the importance of explicitly stating inclusivity in her business and vetting vendors and collaborators to ensure they share the same values.

Sustainable Business Practices

Sustainability in business practices was another key topic we discussed. To Kelsey, sustainability means balancing productivity with self-care and ensuring that her business models support both environmental causes and social justice initiatives. She has woven sustainability into her business by adjusting her daily schedule to include active rest, optimizing her time for creativity, and setting explicit communication boundaries with clients.

Building Your Inclusive and Sustainable Business

For photographers looking to follow in Kelsey’s footsteps, the path involves constant learning, seeking out diversity in subjects, giving back to the community, and building relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. Kelsey stresses the importance of not relying on marginalized communities to educate you but rather seeking out resources and continually educating oneself.

In Conclusion

This conversation with Kelsey was enlightening and inspiring, serving as a reminder of the power photographers hold in framing narratives and shaping perceptions. Embracing inclusion in wedding photography isn’t just about broadening your client base—it’s about making a conscious effort to acknowledge, respect, and celebrate the myriad ways love manifests. And as we’ve learned from Kelsey, with the right mindset and practices, achieving a sustainable, inclusive business is not just possible; it’s imperative.

Kelsey’s journey and insights offer a blueprint for photographers everywhere to reflect on their practices, make necessary adjustments, and step up as allies and advocates for all couples wishing to celebrate their love. Let’s take these lessons to heart and work towards a more inclusive and respectful photography industry.

What Kelsey wants you to know

Photographers feeling burnt out with large weddings can do things differently! AND we should be inclusive about who we serve! Love is love! 🏳️‍🌈


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Ingvild Kolnes is the host of the Sustainable Photography Podcast, an educator for photographers, and is ready to help you with your photography business. 

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126. Embracing Inclusion in Photography: Lessons from Kelsey of Honey Bee Weddings

hi, i'm ingvild

This podcast is all about education and inspiration for photographers. A sustainable business is profitable and lasting. Instead of short-term wins you want to make sure you’re doing things that matter. Both to yourself, and to create the business you want. The goal of this podcast is that it will help you build and structure your business around your life, instead of the other way around.

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