Photographer Clashes with Weddings Unveiled Magazine Over Same-Sex Marriage Ad

Photographer Clashes with Weddings Unveiled Magazine Over Same-Sex Marriage Ad

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:


weddings_unveiled_ad

 

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.

Sincerely,
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.

[Via AnneAlmasy.com]

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174 Comments

Mike Lerner's picture

Well she doesn't sound like the savviest business person. You have a wedding magazine based in the SOUTH, and you want to run a gay wedding ad? It's the SOUTH. That's like me trying to open a smart car dealership in Louisville, Kentucky. It wouldn't be successful. Just over 2 million couples got married last year and I'm just going to guess about 95% of those wedding in the Southern US were heterosexual marriages. She made a big deal just get attention. Maybe that helped her business.

David Arthur's picture

I'm pretty sure there is a smart car dealership in louisville. ;)

Smart Center of Louisville
4156 SHELBYVILLE ROAD
LOUISVILLE, KY 40207
502.896.4411

Tongue Firmly in Cheek!

 I think it is especially savvy to print the ad in the SOUTH, especially if she's trying to make a point. I live in an extremely LGBT-friendly city right here in the SOUTH. I agree that she shouldn't have been so surprised by the response, but if we just give up on whole regions of the country, saying they'll always just "be that way," then we can never move forward.

And advertising is a means to "get attention" as you mention, so in that regard I hope she was successful!

Are you suggesting that the South is void of homosexuals?

Oh and BTW - Here is the info for SMART car in Louisville 

4156 SHELBYVILLE ROAD LOUISVILLE, KY 40207 
502.896.4411

No, I think he was just alluding to the fact that the south is riddled with obese, uneducated troglodytes who think the Earth is 5,000 years old and that you can catch gay if a gay person sneezes near you.

 So what exactly are you saying? Just how old is the Earth?

roflol

I personally have no problem with the ad at all, being from Holland where being gay is like..no issue at all. However I think it's understandable that the magazine refused the ad. Gay marriage isn't legally recognized in these states for a reason. If you publish a magazine on traditional US food and someone wants to run an ad on Indian food there's a fair chance it's going to get refused don't you think?

 That depends. Indian like chapati or Indian like maize?

Giselle Natassia's picture

Their public response feels suspiciously like backtracking to me ;) I did enjoy the mostly unbiased article providing both sides though. 

The whole situation however and the fact it's going viral - I'm sure hasn't done anything to hurt Almasy's marketing of her business.

Backtracking, perhaps.  But backpeddling can be a good thing if a person (or entity) realizes they've made what they deem to be a mistake, and is owning up to it.  

Regarding the issue at-hand, the public apology is in some ways perhaps even *more* ballsy than the ad itself . . . If they had just run the ad in the first place, there's always the "the opinions presented do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine" bent, but - in the apology - they put it out there in black-and-white saying "this is what we believe" to that same demographic they were initially worried would be offended by the ad itself.

Whether you agree or disagree with their opinion, I say good on 'em for putting it out there.  It takes guts to so publicly take a stand for what you believe, and - I think - even more to say, "I was wrong.  I acted falsely.  I am sorry."  I think this is especially so in our culture where changing one's mind is so often seen as weakness rather than the intelligence of continually re-evaluating not only the facts of a situation but one's own personal beliefs.

David Arthur's picture

10 years and thats the best image you have? I'm not sayin i hve better but i havent been shooting weddings for ten years. and why would you want to run a controversial ad when you as the photographer run the risk of offending people. no matter if you agree with gay marriage you have to understand that is offensive to many many people that have money to spend. your ad should hit your target market, and the magazine knew that this was not their demographic. props to them for knowing their consumer.

Expression over perfection.
The girl on the right does seem happy, relieved and safe.

Rogier Bos fotograaf's picture

Another response from Holland - and, yes, I also support gay marriage. But a magazine should have the right to refuse an ad, if it feels said ad is going to hurt its readership. And a wedding photographer who only has this one image (s)he wants to publish isn't so much seeking to advertize as seeking to push an agenda. No wedding magazine should lend itself for that. I find it remarkable and generous, then, to read the apology from the editors. It is them, rather than the photographer, that I admire.

Yet another example of liberals not understanding the concept of "Freedom". They didn't want to print your ad? Stop whining and go somewhere else! If someone doesn't want my business I won't force it upon them. I am personally sick of this political correctness running amok in our culture. Not everyone is a liberal gay lifestyle supporter, get over it. That is the beauty of living in a free society. We are free to accept, or not, certain lifestyles. It's too bad to see companies and people being so weak. Too many bend and snap so easily under liberal pressure.

 I think you have it completely backwards.

If we are to believe the publishers' response, they are "liberal" on this issue (ie they support marriage equality), and they acted against their <b>own</b> beliefs and instincts initially.

As a small business owner, I completely buy this mindset. I have often been in a moral quandary myself asking if I should follow my own beliefs or what I think my customers might believe. I don't see what they did as kowtowing or backing off for fear of losing business. Taken at their word, which I am inclined to do as their reasoning is sound, the publishers seem to feel their own convictions were fortified by the response, not oppressed by it.

Whether that is smart for their business is another matter entirely.

I don't have anything backwards, you can take them for their word the same as I can question their motive. Many are almost forced to "change" their opinion on hot button issues out of fear. Not many want their business to be paraded all over the internet as an example of "bigotry". 

Wondering if that would be still your opinion when the ad would be rejected because the people in it were African-Americans, Jews or Christians. Suppressing minorities is not the "beauty of living in a free society", it is the shameful part.

It's not even legal people! 

Enjoy it while it lasts, Nicole.

Neither was a woman's right to vote not too long ago. Wonder why that changed, eh?

If they it were hetero African-American couple in a White supremist magazine, would we say the photographer was standing up something or just a publicity stunt and exploiting her clients?

The magazine isn't called 'Straight-Only weddings Unveiled', it's simply called 'Weddings Unveiled'. How was she supposed to know they would be closed-minded?

 As long as someone is not offending other person or group he should be allowed to refuse to serve or interact with that person. The same way you have the right to refuse to anyone to enter your home without giving any explanation.
By "protecting" certain group we actually prioritize it. I believe everyone should have the same and equal rights.
I believe also that people should have a right to free speech. Unfortunately the speech is categorized and we can't say whatever we want.

No, you are wrong. Business ethics do not allow to refuse service to anyone because of their religion, race or sexual orientation. That's a different thing than a private home.

Following your logic it would be okay for any business to refuse to serve African Americans, Jews, disabled people...

 I believe so. I also believe in free market and I am sure business who would exercise this right will quickly go out of business! But yes, they should have that right.

Bully!!

 Hey! Just to get this straight because some may not read whole thing or simply don't understand the argument. I am for equal rights and equal treatment for all human beings. Whether you straight or gay, reach or poor, jewish or muslim or christian, white, black or whatever your skin color may be. That is why no one should get any special treatment. And one group shouldn't be prioritized over other.
About the marriage, I don't see it as a big deal and I really don't understand why gay marriage is not legal...
And I live by the simplest rule ever: "treat others as you want to be treated".

We're on the exact same page, my friend.  I meant "bully" in the way Teddy Roosevelt would say it when someone suggested he charge San Juan Hill on horseback.   Not as a pejorative.  

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