Inclusivity and Giving Back to the Community

I’m definitely not a pen to paper kind of person. I express myself through my photography.  For the most part, I get by with photos- one of the major benefits of building a photography business!  But today, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to share two core personal and business values through writing- inclusivity and giving back to the community.  A departure in tone and topic from previous posts but I believe it’s important to understand the values behind the photography studio and the photographer.

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I grew up in a Mormon community.  My family lived by the Mormon values.  Growing up, I struggled to understand why I’ve never felt completely aligned with the religion.  One of the main reasons, after years of tough conversations with myself, was that at the core of who I am, I believe everyone should be valued, respected and celebrated for being who they are.  While it is a great community and religion of choice for many, I’ve decided to step away from the religion and lifestyle. As someone who believes in the value of every person, that we are all one team, and that love is love, I wanted to live a lifestyle that valued inclusivity.  

It was extremely important to me that I practice inclusivity in business, too. When I built Clane Gessel’s Destination Wedding Photography Studio twelve years ago, it was crucial that my studio partnered with couples and vendors who believed love is love and was inclusive of all.  Every wedding we’ve had the honor to shoot was amazing. It was amazing because of the people- the couple, the wedding vendor team, the loved ones- amazing folks from all walks of life working together to celebrate love in all forms.

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Giving Back to the Community:

How to give back to the community is something I often think about.  I do believe we are all one team and I believe that everyone can give back to the team in their own way.  My way is photography. One cause that I am passionate about is women’s empowerment. My photography studio partners with women-first organizations with missions to protect and empower women.  Some of these partnerships include Dress for Success New York, End Abuse for Good, and charities with similar missions. We donate a portion of each wedding to these organizations and others.  

Women empowerment is something that I feel very strongly about because I grew up with three sisters.  My mom is my best friend. They are some of the closest people to me and have been such strong and positive people in my life.  I love and respect them so much. So it is especially tough for me to hear stories of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and any type of disrespectful behavior towards women.  The MeToo movement encouraged all industries, including the wedding industry to have the tough conversations about all types of disrespectful behavior towards women. It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear the stories shared. I have nieces, they are my joy, and I hope the world they will grow up in will have less and less of these terrible acts.  Giving back to the community is so important, it is how we can make a positive shift with movements like women empowerment. I hope that these conversations continue and that we, as a society, continue to listen, support and respect women as they tell their stories.

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Article by Clane Gessel Photography