At Fstoppers, we do our best to stay away from topics that are strictly political in nature. Generally speaking, it's not our place. We are a blog for creative professionals, not any number of sites that poke at hot button issues for the sake of sensationalism. However, once in a while, a situation arises that directly affects photographers and their decisions. One such situation occurred when Weddings Unveiled Magazine rejected a photographer's paid advertisement.
On February 16, wedding photographer Anne Almasy published an article on her personal blog regarding an issue she experienced that hit a serious nerve with her. After shooting weddings for 10 years, she finally decided to take out her first print advertisement in a magazine. Her choice was Weddings Unveiled, a popular magazine based in Georgia with its main distribution all throughout the southern United States. She finished the process of selecting her ad size and talking with the editors, and she was ready to send them her ad, pictured below:
Almasy said she chose the image because "to me, it says love. It says home. It says joy."
After she submitted the image, the editors of Weddings Unveiled magazine sent her the following reply:
"Is there possibly another photograph you’d like to use in your ad? We just don’t feel comfortable publishing an ad featuring a same-sex couple. These aren’t our personal beliefs, of course, but, you know…"
Almasy, offended, replied "No, I don’t have another photograph I would like to use.”
The editor said she would have another conversation with her team and call Almasy back. The call back was not the response Almasy was looking for.
“We haven’t even run your credit card yet, so we can just move on without your ad. We’d still love to have you in the magazine, though, so let me know if you want to advertise in the future.”
Weddings Unveiled refused to run the ad, which is their right as a magazine. However as you can imagine, this greatly angered Almasy, who was "shaking" with fury and sadness. Almasy also makes an interesting point, stating that if she wanted to advertise with the gay community, there were other magazine options for her. But she chose Weddings Unveiled because she wanted to advertise "to couples who are getting married. This couple didn’t get 'gay married. They didn’t have a 'gay wedding.' They got married. They had a wedding. They share their lives, their joys and sorrows, and all the mundane daily things that we all share with our partners. They are just people. In love. Committed to one another."
Today, Weddings Unveiled published their public apology in response to Alamay, which you can also find here:
"We are Terri and Brooke, the publishers of Weddings Unveiled Magazine. We hope that you will allow us the opportunity to address an important issue that has angered and disappointed many people. We are incredibly sad that same sex marriage is still an issue in our society. When we were faced with the decision of whether or not to publish Anne Almasy's advertisement, we acted in a manner that does not reflect our personal beliefs. We truly believe that all love is beautiful and that all people have the right to marry. You might ask that if we feel that way, then why did we make this decision? Honestly, we knew that everyone would not share our belief that all people have the right to marry. The issue is very sensitive and it is also very divided. We knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we published the ad and we knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we did not. We are so sorry that we acted out of fear and uncertainty. We had never been faced with such a decision and we should have acted with our hearts.
We are two women who operate a small business that we care deeply about. We love all weddings. We love all people and would never want to anger, offend or disappoint anyone. We are deeply moved by the outpouring of love and support for Anne. We are so sorry that we have disappointed you and we ask for your forgiveness. If Anne would still like to run her ad in Weddings Unveiled, then we would be proud to publish it.
Terri and Brooke"
Now we of course want to hear your thoughts, but before you type them up here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Magazines reserve the right not publish any ad at any time. Kind of like being refused service at a restaurant because you aren't wearing pants.
2) Gay marriage is not legally recognized in Georgia, nor in any of the states where Weddings Unveiled has their primary distribution (the exception being New York) nor where Almasy shoots the majority of her weddings.
3) Just because gay marriage isn't legalalized doesn't mean couples don't celebrate weddings. It may not be legally recognized, but many same-sex couples still have weddings and hire photographers.
So here are some questions to think about:
Was Weddings Unveiled in the wrong to deny the ad, knowing their prime demographics and distribution? Was Almasy trying to shine emphasis on the issue because she knew it was a hot-button topic, guaranteed to generate buzz? Does the apology from Weddings Unveiled resonate with you? If you were in Almasy's shoes, would you still want to run the ad?
This is a very tough subject, but one that has ramifications for any photographer. If you ran into this issue with your personal business, how would it make you feel? Would you have done what Almasy did? Let us know in the comments below.