My experience as a black wedding professional in Toronto

What an interesting time to do a Friday introduction…
In light of the on-going discussion, I decided to take a different angle to this post. Here goes!

I’m Ryan and I’m the heart and soul of Aperture Lane. My journey as a creative started long before I stumbled into entrepreneurship. From my teen years, I’ve pursued photography and the visual arts in general. I’ve had a natural desire to preserve moments that I share with my friends, with my family and within my church community.

The transition to capturing milestones professionally 6 and a half years ago made so much sense… but it wasn’t easy. Despite the current trend, working for oneself is very hard. Being black in a North American wedding industry can make it harder.

In an industry where most of the popular imagery in magazines, social platforms, and influential personalities is white, I can sometimes feel out of place as a professional who is a visual minority.

In fact, for the first 2 years of my business, I didn’t put my face on my website for fear of “repelling potential clients”. In hindsight, it seems stupid because I shouldn’t desire to work with people who don’t accept me for who I am, but that’s how systematic racism messes with your head. For those of you following my journey long enough, you know I’m over that and I’m all up in your Instagram feed every week now.

ryan smiling holding a camera

However, showing up as a black professional in general comes with the need to evaluate the level of performance around me and surpass that to be considered on the same level. It means having submissions to magazines rejected for ambiguous reasons like, “This doesn’t fit our vision”.

For me, showing up to a classy wedding as a black videographer means dressing a cut above the rest so people stop coming up to me and asking me to bring them food because they think I’m a part of the service staff! So awkward! 😂

In fact, I’m always on my team’s case about presenting themselves well, not just because it’s common decency to dress well and mirror the crowd at these weddings we go to, but also because what they do, even though they themselves are not black, reflects back on me as the black business owner.

But let’s set the record straight: I’m not sharing this so that you can feel sorry for me. But rather, I’m trying to figure out what my place is in the current conversation going on this week. It’s sad, but I, like many other professionals who are visual minorities, have learned to adapt our businesses in an industry that favours white faces.

Despite the odds, I’ve managed to build a brand that serves a diverse clientele and have built a portfolio that has all colours of the rainbow like a pack of Skittles. My team and I serve all different cultures ranging from Anglo, African, South Asian, Jewish, Hispanic and so on.

We have a long way to go with diversity and representation in this industry. In light of this journey ahead, I will reiterate that I’m very grateful for ALL the relationships that I’ve developed along the way. If we continue working together, we will see some change soon.

As we narrate together
– Ryan

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