….HELLS YEAH. (The “s” is for emphasis ;-)). My Gchat status for the past few days has been “I am tired of racism. And Sexism. Possibly more tired of sexism.” The racism/sexism thing is an ENTIRELY different (and more complex) post, but yeah, it definitely exists, and what makes it more difficult to deal with is the fact that people still feel compelled to ask the question…or more accurately, even entertain that the answer could be “no”.
As a black person who has a number of degrees and has attended only elite institutions (yet also hails from one of the most notoriously-well known high crime/poverty neighborhoods in the country), I have had a number of experiences dealing with people challenging my qualifications or having difficulty grasping the possibility that I am who I purport to be! For instance, while trying to work and enjoy my own lunch, I have had a complete stranger ask me 1) how I got my computer, 2) what grad school program I was in (and upon hearing that I was at Harvard), 3)what my GRE scores were, and 4) whether my parents were famous.
I’ve been asked (again, from complete strangers) whether I was able to go to Stanford on athletic scholarship (if you saw me, you would know how ridiculous that question sounds), what my SAT scores were, who wrote my letters of recommendation (oh, those last two were from a drivers’ education instructor IN THE MIDDLE OF A DRIVER’S ED CLASS with about 20 other people (who I am sure had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA who the faculty that I mentioned were)….right before he insulted the city that I am actually from (although he probably didn’t know it at the time–he just wanted to blatantly insult an entire community of people), and whether I was having a hard time adjusting to life in Cambridge being from my community (granted I’ve already gotten through 4 years in Palo Alto, and 3 years at Cambridge).
There are just SOO many more instances like those its just sickening. And in each of these instances I was just trying to exist peacefully–minding my own business, when someone feels compelled to make me answer for their racist beliefs. It really drives me insane, and makes me angry that people feel entitled to intrude upon my existence in that way.
@KLP – I’m sorry that you haven’t been hired by black couples, but, like I said in a prior post, if you really did want to have people of color in your portfolio, then you should make an active effort to do so. I don’t know what ethnicity you are, but if you looked at a portfolio and saw NOTHING but photo after photo of black people, and then you saw another portfolio with pictures of people with your same complexion I think that you also would want to choose that second photographer. As someone who has gone to predominately white schools, and had many experiences with class photographers who took great pics of my white classmates, and constantly over-exposed pictures of me and my black classmates, I would definitely need to see that a “good” photographer was able to take good pictures of people who look like me. You get one chance to take your wedding photos, so why would I take a risk that I will end up with ruined photos, if I have no basis for knowing that you are equally capable of taking pictures of those with other skin tones. If it really is a market that you would like to break into, I would suggest offering a free (or highly-reduced) engagement shoots, or “trash the dress” shoots so that you can incorporate them into your portfolio.
Just like you wouldn’t be upset that a bride didn’t want to hire you for her wedding based on a number of great family portraits, you shouldn’t be upset that a bride that knows that photographing her isn’t exactly the same as photographing the kinds of people already in your portfolio, doesn’t want to hire you on faith alone.