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Diversity and Accessibility in Health, Fitness & Wellbeing - My responsibility as a Photographer

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

As a personal branding & lifestyle photographer predominantly working with health, fitness and wellbeing professionals, I recognise the impact of my work on those who see it and I want to do all I can to ensure that impact is positive.

Dianne Bondy Yoga Workshop
Dianne Bondy yoga workshop, August 2019

As we know, the creative industry and the wellbeing industry both have an ongoing issue with lack of diversity and accessibility. In the wellbeing industry specifically the vast majority of professionals, influencers, and consumers are slim, white, cis-gendered, heterosexual and able-bodied. This is no coincidence. The long-standing oppression and discrimination faced by individuals who don’t fit this demographic has translated into health and wellbeing companies only making and marketing their products and services to those who fit the ‘mould’.

We only need to look at the statistics to see that people in underrepresented or minority groups are some of the most likely to suffer from mental health issues or feel a lack of ‘belonging’. Yet, the very industry shown to be hugely beneficial to those who are struggling with mental health, amongst other issues, isn’t as accessible to them as it is to the rest of us. Instead of attempting to alleviate the trauma and mental health issues faced by many, we have perpetuated the issue by advertising health and wellbeing as a luxury reserved for a specific type of person.

When I started offering my photography services to those within this industry my eyes were quickly opened to the lack of diverse representation and imagery in this space. As I added to my photography portfolio, I recognised the same stereotype I mentioned above - white, slim, cis-gendered, able-bodied. By only representing the same demographic in my images, I was also perpetuating the message that this is what health and wellbeing looks like. But I am committed to changing that. Until we start taking and creating consistent action and visual representation, the problem will persist. If someone can’t see themselves reflected in a space, how are they supposed to feel welcome in it?

Hannah Wallace, for 'This is Wellbeing' Campaign

In January 2020 I launched a campaign called ‘This is Wellbeing’ in collaboration with enthusiasts and professionals who are underrepresented in the industry. For now you can see the full campaign here or in The Metro. The aim was to promote more diversity and accessibility, to showcase the work of those who are largely unseen in this industry, and to begin changing the visual message around what ‘health and wellbeing’ looks like (i.e. that it can look like anything!).

Unfortunately, one campaign, blog or social media post cannot change what is happening right in front of us. This will take time and continuous effort from those of us in a position of privilege in order to dismantle and rebuild the industry in an entirely new and inclusive way. It is my responsibility and commitment to be a part of that change, as a white, slim, able-bodied, cis-gendered woman creating content for this sector.

My commitments to continue supporting entrepreneurs and brands who are underrepresented in their industry...

Discounts on photoshoots:

I offer an optional 10% discount on lifestyle and branding photography to those who are the most underrepresented in their industry. This discount will be increased during promotional periods. I am aware that some people may not want this discount and it is therefore an opt-in option on my enquiry form. There is also space on my enquiry form to let me know about anything else you feel could make my services more accessible.

Free headshot sessions:

I offer free headshot days approximately every 6 months (although this may vary depending on demand) to those who are most underrepresented in their industry. In the health, fitness and wellbeing industry specifically those most underrepresented are people who are Black, Asian, mixed-race or another ethnic minority; people with a disability which significantly restricts their movement or senses long-term; and people who are trans or non-binary. A free headshot session is approximately 20 minutes taking some simple portrait shots together in a location I specify and you can expect to get 3-5 professional headshots/half-length portraits to use. If you would like to sign up to be emailed whenever I have a free headshot day with available spaces you can do so through the form below this blog. You won’t receive any other marketing emails from me through agreeing to this alone.

Wesley Hamilton, for 'This is Wellbeing' Campaign

Being part of this change goes beyond photography or the health and wellbeing industry. The systemic oppression faced by marginalised individuals is everywhere in our everyday lives. It is not limited to our work, relationships, or even choice of language. It is a deep-rooted and multifaceted construct that also lives in our subconscious. We (those who have some kind of privilege) must hold ourselves accountable for uncovering our own implicit biases in order to understand and reject them. We must get involved in and start difficult conversations in order to disrupt the status quo. We must be willing to make mistakes, to re-evaluate, and to learn along the way. We must be consistent in doing so.

I am taking steps to improve my own understanding of intersectional feminism offline in order to uncover my own implicit biases and be a better ally both in real life and online. I know I will make mistakes and get things wrong in the process. Alongside my work and everyday life, I will continue to share important conversations and content, as well as showcase the work of others. I also welcome discussions around any of these topics.

If you feel there is something else I could do to make my services more accessible to you, or would like to have a discussion about anything mentioned in this blog, you are welcome to email me directly at (occasionally emails can go into my junk, so please also let me know elsewhere if you do so!)

Thank you for reading.

Ellie x

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