Guest post from Preeti Moberg – founder of The Big Fat Indian Wedding, an online bridal resource that inspires with South Asian Wedding traditions, trends, fashion and real weddings.
Inspiration shoots are an excellent way as a business to demonstrate your creative potential. When it comes to multicultural styled shoots, the colors, the heritage, and the creativity are out in full force. It is a veritable smörgåsbord of happiness! But with multicultural shoots, it is easy to get wrapped in the pretty colors and forget about the culture, and that can lead to the controversial path of cultural appropriation.
A little help to ensure you don’t create a cultural faux pas. Cultural appropriation is using one culture’s elements (usually a minority culture) into a majority culture. While not always, sometimes cultural appropriation comes off as offensive, and at worst, racist. As an example, think being non-Native American and wearing a feather headdress. Don’t let this worry you out of a developing a fabulous shoot, just keep in mind what others, especially minorities, may interpret when seeing the finished product.
I have four tips to help you create and execute a successful multicultural styled shoot.
During planning, be specific – While in the concept stage, be specific about what kind of theme and culture you want to honor. Don’t create a styled shoot around “Asia” because you love the colors. Asia is a large continent with hundreds of languages, many religions, and very different wedding styles. Instead, get inspired by a trip you took to somewhere in Asia, e.g. a trip to Japan in the springtime, a hiking expedition to Everest, a week in Mumbai, or by something meaningful to you.
Colors – If there’s one thing unique with non-Judeo Christian weddings, it would be the colors. Colors in different cultures mean many things, and weddings are one of the best times to express them. Indians, Arabs, and Africans are known for their fantastic use of color blocking. Palettes of warm colors, bold colors, golds, earth tones will brighten your wedding look.
Motifs – Your styled shoot can pull a lot from motifs. Arabic cultures are known for floral, flowing patterns that are not always symmetric. Their work is finely etched in stone or drawn on paper. While Arabic motifs will never use faces or animals, inscriptions of the Quran are beautifully interspersed in the floral drawings. And Islamic art, uses geometric patterns with intricate designs that can form large symmetrical designs (e.g. the damask).
In eastern Asian cultures, especially China and Japan, the peony is one their most symbolic flowers. The “king” of flowers, the peony, was cultivated for both its beauty and healing abilities. Think of a springtime wedding inspired by the peony with its soft colors contrasting with a kimono worn by Japanese brides.
Tribal groups across the world use natural objects to craft and carve delicate necklaces, headpieces, bracelets, and other jewelry. These pieces are often cast in stone, shell, mixed metals, or even bone.
Florals – Western weddings are increasingly using florals as something more than just centerpieces and bouquets. Flower garlands, floral chains, and loose flowers (in the hair) are popular in many countries. Skip the roses and go with jasmine, marigold, orchids, and other brightly colored, fragrant flowers for your inspiration shoot.
Whatever you do, your multicultural wedding shoot should inspire and respect the community you’re featuring. Speak to experts in the field, do your research, and find authentic pieces and you’ll be well on your way to a stellar photo shoot.
Be sure to check out more from The Big Fat Indian Wedding!