I commit to re-defining normal as diverse.

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my philosophy

Carrie Swails Photography was created out of a need to ensure nerds, offbeat, and non-traditional people like me felt represented in the wedding industry. I believe in weddings where people prioritize the fact they are getting married. Weddings don’t need a theme - isn’t the theme marriage?! I also believe in weddings that prioritize each person’s individual personality and find ways to incorporate their passions for nerdy things, the outdoors or whatever it is they’re passionate about. A wedding should be a reflection of the personalities of the people getting married. Weddings that throw tradition out the window and own doing it their way are my jam.

I know there is a distinct lack of visual representation in the wedding industry of anyone who is perceived as not what society normalizes. I commit to re-defining normal as diverse and inclusive through my photography as much as I can. I not only welcome, but celebrate (very enthusiastically) any client who has a hard time finding people who look like them or live like them in media in today’s society.

Carrie Swails Photography is a business that commits to being a safe space and seeks to include and advocate for all identities and cultures within its wedding photography and engagement services. Wedding photography services are based in Colorado and serve couples in Grand Junction, Ouray, Steamboat Springs, Denver and anywhere clients want to take me to celebrate their own authentic and unique weddings.

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the mission statement

Celebrating diversity throughout Colorado and beyond.

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My 5 Core Values:

Media in the world, and especially wedding media, normalizes being white, thin, cisgender and heterosexual. It considers anything else ‘other.’ I believe as a photographer that I have a unique power as an image creator to help re-define what’s considered normal by creating and representing people from marginalized communities in my work. Wedding media does not accurately reflect the diverse people getting married and I hope to have the opportunity to change that narrative and ensure that marginalized communities have visual representation and a voice through my work.

1. Representing Marginalized Communities 

I believe human beings have personal autonomy over their own bodies and therefore seek to celebrate all the unique ways people celebrate and live in their bodies. My commitment to bodily integrity extends into the way I process and edit my work. I edit images for things like color correction and exposure, but will not do extensive retouching. I believe changing your body shape and similar types of over-processing are unethical. When a photographer creates unrealistic physical changes to someone’s body, they project their own biases of what they think someone ‘should’ look like onto that person. I want my business to be a place of body acceptance and love as much as possible. I also believe everyone struggles with confidence in their body and I am always understanding of that. That said, if you have a giant zit - I’m going to edit that crap out. I’m an epic digital pimple popper.

2. Bodily Integrity 

It’s best defined as a problematic power dynamic where members of a dominant group or culture (who have privilege) take elements from a culture of people who are marginalized or oppressed by the dominant culture. Cultural appropriation is widespread in photography and it does a lot of damage by letting us show love for a culture, but remain prejudiced against its people. When members of a dominant culture utilize traditions, tools, and rituals from an oppressed culture in their wedding it furthers problems of falsehoods, stereotyping and systemic racism - especially when published online, where stories are often misunderstood. As such, I do not photograph weddings with things like teepees, dreamcatchers, jumping the broom, henna, and other cultural aspects unless my clients are from those cultures. By doing this, when a client’s story is published online - the true owner of a cultural tradition or ritual is the one whose voice is being heard and I’m prioritizing justice for marginalized groups over my own dominant culture’s privilege. 

3. Cultural Appropriation 

Photography is about storytelling and one of my core values is to not manufacture poses and photo opportunities for the sake of the pose or opportunity. I want to photograph your wedding as if it’s unfolding in a documentary way. By doing this we focus on your candid moments laughing with family or creating meaningful memories. When we stop and pull out Pinterest boards to copy a cool image set up we see, we are manufacturing a moment that’s not truly happening. I believe you should just enjoy your wedding day and let those moments happen naturally in a way that feels authentic to be documented. Let’s not create images for the sake of pretty images. Let’s create images that will make you cry, laugh, and give you the feels for the next 50 years. 

4. Creating Photos with Meaning 

Autonomy is defined as being free from external control. The wedding world often makes my clients feel like they’re doing things wrong, when they break from tradition for any reason. Sometimes it’s a wedding vendor that makes you feel guilty for not wanting the latest fashionable thing. Sometimes it’s a family member who thinks the way you want to celebrate is wrong. One of my core values is your autonomy over your wedding day. I always provide clients with lots of tips, resources and tools since I’ve been to hundreds of weddings, but this day is yours. I’m here to be an ally for however you want to celebrate. The wedding world might always tell you to do things one way, but I believe weddings are the best when you do things however you want. 

5. Wedding Autonomy