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:



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.


Jaron Schneider's picture

Jaron Schneider is an Fstoppers Contributor and an internationally published writer and cinematographer from San Francisco, California. His clients include Maurice Lacroix, HD Supply, SmugMug, the USAF Thunderbirds and a host of industry professionals.

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Previous comments

Yeah... well your book also says kill non believers (Deuteronomy 17), Kill witches (Exodus 22:17), Kill people that curses at his parents (Proverbs 20:20), kill non virgin brides on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21), kill sons of sinners (Isaiah 14:21)... I could continue, but my point is that your choice of book and rules to follow from it, is a little bit of cherry picking too.

Full disclaimer, I am an atheist, I do not have anything against your right to believe in whatever being you consider sacred, but nobody is forcing anything on you, you are however trying to force your perspective of "right/wrong" onto others. You do not need to accept homosexuality (if you don't like it, don't get marry to another person of the same sex), but it is bigotry to actively fight against the rights of these people (or any other, really) to get married

 Good luck with that

right back at ya

 First of all, all your references are from the Old Testament. We live under the New Covenant (Testament) since the resurrection. It can't be cherry picking if it no longer applies. And I say good luck with your atheism. If I'm wrong, you can have a good self righteous laugh at my expense. If you're wrong . . . . . .

that's fair, however, isn't the ruling against "homosexuality" part of the old testament too? (Corithians, Romans and Timothy seem to refer more about pederasty or prostitution), therefore, why actively go against something that according to you is not relevant anymore?

Also, if you're wrong, I won't be able to have a laugh at your expense... not that I would, understand that I am not mocking your belief, nor do I want to push my lack of belief on you, I'm just discussing the rights of certain groups to be as miserable as anybody else :)

 I personally am SICK AND TIRED of being told i MUST accept homosexuality. I personally am SICK AND TIRED of being told i MUST accept African Americans.
 I personally am SICK AND TIRED of being told i MUST accept (insert appropriate minority).

Also, you do not have to really do 'anything' to accept homosexuality, no one is forcing you into a homosexual relationship.

If they would have ran that ad, 10 other advertisers would drop out. Look at it like this, you won't see a Torrid or Hot Topic advertise in W Magazine, or ADV.1 in Car Craft. Wrong demo, wrong market. And if the ad did run, she'd have to turn away so much business unless she could send teams out across multiple states on every weekend. She would would have inspired so many copycats that LGBT wedding photography specialists spring up nationwide.

I bet what's happening right now is photographers are adding LGBT friendly photography to their online portfolios and optimizing content for keywords: LGBT,gay,lesbian,photography.

- I really wish this would allow me to delete my comment, I did not intend to run it with my full name -

I work at a magazine and it is a tough decision to not run an ad. We run a lot of ads that are for things we *don't* believe in because we know they appeal to our primary audience. We're very cautious in running things we do believe in that go against the grain of our primary audience.

That said, I think they handled it poorly in first refusing to the run the ad and then outing their readerships as the bad-guys who would have a problem with it. If you're going to refuse to run an ad I think you should know that you're ok with the fall-out and you should stand by it.

So what you're saying is you do things you don't believe in for money. There's a word for that, you know.

What she says was that there might be a difference between your own and your companies point of view. As you are fairly paid by your company and act on its behalf, you put the companies benefit in first place. Its called loyalty, and its about to know where to draw the line.
Mind, she was not specifically talking about any kind of considered minority, she was talking about things one does or does not belive in, any kind of things, its not necesserely about freedom, opression or bigottery. It also can be about screaming perversity, being retarded or simply off-key. 
You dont refuse a Coke-Ad just because you think its unhealthy to people.
Frankly, its not about never doing anything you dont belive in just for the money, its about keeping balance and speak your mind when its necessary. If my neighbour is a hatin`old bastard I dont give a crap, but If a local politician is, I do. 

Both sides do have valid points, however it is the right of the magazine, as it is of most businesses to make that choice. There are some photographers out there who are not comfortable with shooting a same sex marriage. Would we bash them as well for this? I even know some who are not comfortable shooting certain religious weddings as it makes them uncomfortable. Or it is not how they want their brand to be represented. Every business has an image and type of client they cater to and need to think of how those clients would be affected. If it was a LGBT magazine, would they want an ad with hetero couple? 

It is a tricky subject as the ad does have the right to be posted, however, if the law says the publisher can make the choice, then they ultimately have the choice regardless of the moral issue here. 

I too work for a magazine, but in the art department, not in sales. I am close to the sales team and support them whenever potential clients have questions about file prep and print production capabilities. Yes we have to turn away advertisers a lot, but we do it with tact. I've called back potential advertisers to tell them "no" just to see if I could ever handle being in sales, but it's easy to say "no" to escort sites, marriage matchmakers, and 1-900 phone services because they hear it all the time.

If you don't agree with the ideas and views of a magazine....then simply take your business elsewhere. The magazine did not break any laws here and the magazine company has every right to deny service just as much as the photographer has a right to express her feelings. I never ever understood why people cannot understand such a simple concept.

I don't think anyone is arguing that the magazine was not within its rights.  We're discussing the moral and ethical consequences of said actions.  I often have need to remind people that you may have freedom of speech (which the magazine exercised here by choosing to NOT say something), but you do not have freedom from consequence.

They are absolutely free to reject the ad - and we are absolutely free to highlight the bigotry (worst case) or shameful moral prostitution (best case) that occurred.

It appears the magazine printed their apology out of fear as well, since they only did so after the photographer made it a public issue.  It is their right to choose not to run the photo, and they did not take her money. Since the photographer refused to provide another photograph, it cements my belief that the subject choice was purely for sensational reasons. If you recall, a certain television station refused to run a plus size underwear ad, but was eager to run the victoria secret ads? They were allowed to make that choice, even with public criticism. Why should this be any different? The magazine should not feel pressured to run an ad that is directed  to a specific audience, if they feel it is not their main demographic. Would we run a diaper ad in a wedding magazine because some brides are pregnant? Weather out of fear or not, the publisher's first instinct was "no", and sometimes insincts are just good business sense.

Complicated issue.  I am a gay man, a photographer and an MBA.  My first thought is as a business man, every advertising dollar needs to be tied back to a revenue stream.  If she is wanting to market to SS couples, then maybe that was not the best place to spend her money. And yes, love is love, so if she was just wanting to appeal to any couple in love, that image did not sing to me.  The pose seems awkward,  I just don't find it to be a great image. So, I think the ad failed on that level as well.    I'm not sure it showed what she would wanted whether targeting to a gay couple, a straight couple or any couple in love.  

And if she is targeting the LGBT community, while some SS couples might pick up that magazine, my thought is if I was getting married, I would search first in media more targeted to my community.  That doesn't mean I would not branch out from there to find the best caterer, photographer, venue, etc... But for a starting point, would be in a more targeted media.

While the magazine may or might not be in their rights to reject the ad (depending upon the ordinances in their area), it was probably short sighted on their part. I am from the south and live in Texas now.  Everyone is not so close mined on these issues as stereotypes would have one believe. I imagine that very few people would have been offended, but those would be the same people who might potentially be offended if the Bride and Groom were mixed race, mixed religion or some other issue. We can't spend our lives worrying that someone will be offended by reality.  So the magazine should get over their fear, and the photographer should make a better business decision in her ad placement. 

I think they have the right to not publish the ad.. I also think they would have lost a lot of subscribers had they published it.. There seem to be a lot more ppl against same sex marriage than for it..especially being in the south.. And as a business whose goal is to make money, I think they made the right decision.. Had they published it, they would have lost money..

Now of course we have the issue of the photographer who has gone public with the fact that the magazine didn't publish her ad.. I'm sure they didn't see that coming, so that obviously has negative impact on them as a business too.. Was she right in going public with it? I don't think so.. I think she was just looking for her 15 minutes of fame, and purposely used a hot button photo in her ad.. She's been shooting for 10 years, no doubt reading that magazine for years to want to advertise in there.. And has never seen an ad like that in there.. So I think she KNEW she would get turned down. And planned on using it as a publicity stunt..

I guarantee her website traffic has gone through the roof in the last few days.. Great business move for her.. But I think it was a dirty trick ethically..

Please note that I'm talking about this from a business stance.. Not a personal stance.. This is a business issue..

Do you not think maybe catering to a niche market might be a sound business decision for a photographer? That this ad might be one way to separate her from thousands of other wedding photographers in her area? I'm sure your ads don't say "Chris Burke: same as everyone else and proud of it!"

Saying the ad will turn off anyone not LGBT is an admission that it's turning you off, which is the real issue and makes you sound like a passive-aggressive liar when you say it's not a personal stance.

Umm how the hell did you read that.. I specifically stated that its obvious that more ppl are against gay marriage than for it.. If it wasn't so, it wouldn't be an issue and we wouldn't be talking about it.

Personally I could care less, but thanks for trying to make it seem as though I'm an ass.. The only thing about the ad that turns me off is the hideous photo.. I could care less about gay couples doing their thing.. If they want to be together, go ahead. Though personally, (which we were asked not to make it, though since you are calling me out) I don't think gay marriage and Christian marriage should be the same.. But I don't think gay people want that either.. To be "married under the eyes of God" but I think gay people can go ahead and get unions.. I'm just not going to say that God blesses it..

To me, it is strictly a marketing issue, not a personal belief issue. Frankly, I don't give a whim if folks are gay or straight. However, if the target audience of the publication is 90% traditional, then the publisher has to pander to that market segment. Yes, the photographer was due the apology as well as the couple featured in the ad, but the publisher was fully within their rights to maintain their market share.


I feel genuinely sorry for photographer, who's best picture after 10 years of experience is so pathetic. Not from a "same-sex" point of view. This photo is just plain screams - Amateur.

Please post a link to your portfolio so we can see how you compare.

I totally agree and made the same comment!!

Yes, Weddings Unveiled was wrong. Not because they refused the ad, but because they let the opinions of others influence them in making a decision that went against their core beliefs. This is called cowardice. No matter what your beliefs are, stand up for them.

"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."

No, it's not like that at all. It's like being refused service at a restaurant because you are Black or Jewish. Being gay isn't something you DO, it's something you ARE.

It's simply stunning how some Christians like to selectively read the constitution (not to mention their own bible). Freedom of speech? How about separation of church and state?

You do realize there is no "separation of church and state" in the U.S. constitution, right?  And what part of the Bible are Christians picking and choosing concerning homosexuality?  - Would love some concrete examples.

Maybe not cherry picking on "homosexuality", but:

kill non believers (Deuteronomy 17), Kill witches (Exodus 22:17), Kill people that curses at his parents (Proverbs 20:20), kill non virgin brides on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21), kill sons of sinners (Isaiah 14:21)... I could continue, but my point is that nobody does this things from the old testament anymore (at least not here in the US... at least not in an acceptable fashion), so why maintain some things while ignoring others?

Standing up for human rights is not sensationalism. It is a moral duty.

The photographer is an opportunist and a bully. Who cares if gay people want to marry? The fact remains that it was a gotcha game she played on the magazine. The photo is not a portfolio piece. The pose is terrible. The photographer can do better. She was not promoting her beautiful photography, she was trying to make controversial noise. She just wanted the attention that comes from stirring the pot. If you can't stand out on your skills then do something unexpected to get attention. Passing gas at the dinner table is not unique and artistic, but it will get noticed. Rude bullies want attention, but they don't want to compete for it on skill. I support gay people in committed lifelong relationships. I do not support cheap-shot ambush artists. I do support the magazine's right to refuse to print anything that could be considered controversial and still not be making a moral judgement.

My thoughts exactly

You're really comparing taking a stand on a human rights issue to bullying and passing gas at a dinner table?

Yup. Gay couples are not an issue I stand against. Playing gotcha to get undeserved attention by stirring up trouble in a forum where it does not belong is bullying. If the photographer wants to promote her photography, fine; if she wants to say she will also happily shoot gay weddings, fine. The magazine is not a prejudiced bad guy for not wanting to be dragged into a controversial issue. The photographer is a bully for dragging them in. Regardless of your views, if you claim the issue is not controversial, you are being disingenuous.

I guess I have a completely different take on who's being bullied.

Not a prejudiced bad guy, perhaps, but a group moral cowards who deserve the ridicule for placing profit over morality.

'Gay couples are not an issue I stand against', you should be saying 'Gay couples are an issue I stand FOR'. subtlety in you working shows that you are some what judgmental and therefore everything you have written after the first sentence holds no weight in objectivity.

The photographer is a bully? are the same sex couple in the photo also bullies? You are delusional, and someone who comes across as completely unempathetic coming from a privileged background, where you have never been really bullied. And who cares if she was 'stirring the pot' or making a publicity stunt, kudos to her, the same was probably said of Rosa Parks. If it exposes peoples deep rooted prejudicies then bravo. 

Dania, you are an angry idiot. My own sister and two of my dearest friends are gay. You are clueless as to where my empathies lie. The fact remains that the photographer cornered the magazine into a no-win situation so she could get some undeserved attention. The couple in the photos are not the issue, but if I dare disagree, you want to call me a bigot who hates them. Try arguing something on facts and merit instead of slinging your judgmental insults. Your misplaced aggression is what holds no weight in objectivity. Opportunistic bully? Absolutely. You have said nothing that counters that.

As a private business it certainly any owner's right to conduct their business practices in any manner they wish. Just like the consumer has the right to voice their choice commercially. I am glad that they chose to make the "right" decision thinking whatever they might, then seeing the "right" way was inclusive.
I give the owners of both businesses credit for coming to their own decisions; one unwavering the other more fluid.

I am 100% in that I do not have any problem at all with same sex marriage.
I am 100% in that I do not have any problem with a private company making their own rules.

Freedom is simple to understand.

You have the right to make the rules for your own business.
You have the right to choose to marry anyone you want.

The two are not exclusive, but part of the great fabric of freedom we say we want.

Brilliant Don. Perfectly articulated.

I am 100% in that this is the best response to the situation :)

True, but I have the right to ridicule their moral cowardice! :)

You have no clue what morality is!

Personally, I think both the magazine and the photographer were wrong.

The magazine has the right to make editorial decisions about what it publishes. No one disputes this. However those decisions are open to responses by consumers and by the general public. Weddings Unveiled could have run the photo right off the bat and lost subscribers as a result. They could have also refused to run the ad and gotten large amounts of press as we saw in Iowa after the cake maker refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. No one can please everyone.

I think the photographer was wrong because it looks like she did not tailor an ad for that publication. In her open letter she states "I don’t shoot gay weddings or straight weddings, Christian weddings or
Jewish weddings, good weddings or bad weddings. I photograph PEOPLE on
their wedding day." The ad does not reflect this. No ad does because there is no publication that targets all people of all types. All criticism of the photograph itself aside, this ad looks like something that would be in a lesbian-targeted publication. A bit of research, or even just a call/e-mail to the magazine itself would have revealed the type of woman who reads Weddings Unveiled and she could have selected a photo (or multiple photos) that would appeal to that kind of woman. Because the in the end the photographer wants to get people to the site to see the portfolio and to contact her. If I see an ad that looks like it is targeting lesbian couples and I am not a lesbian, then I may pass the ad by.

The magazine publisher did not do anything wrong here from a business point of view they could lose readers, because their main distribution is Georgia and most of the state that hasn't legalized gay marriage,so no fault there, if I was the one who has to make the decision, I'll pick the same option.

If the couple were holding guns then it would stir up more publicity on the internet at least! ;-)

I have nothing against same sex-couples and marriages, but I totally see why the magazine editor said no and stuck with it. It's their magazine, their business and they know better what they want or don't want on their pages. 

Would you of said the same thing in the 50s if a shop refused to sell a television to an African American because it was their business prerogative? 

It's the south, this is to be expected.  These people still believe gay people are evil and "god" hates them or something.  But there's more to this, and I wish people would knock off the bullshit.  This photographer had to have known gay marriage wasn't legal, (as fstoppers stated above) in the areas the magazine covered.  She intentionally put that in there to ruffle feathers and get attention.  Looking at her portfolio, she doesn't shoot gay or straight weddings exclusively, so it could have gone either way.  She chose the gay wedding.  Is she saying she has no other decent photo?  That's the only one she'd use to advertise?  No, of course not.
If a photo magazine wouldn't print an ad featuring some stoners with a bong in areas where that wasn't legal, would people be up in arms like this?  No.
It's really pathetic how this woman is using an issue that's trendy to whine about now, to get publicity.  Shame on fstoppers and everyone else for falling for it.

Why should she have to choose another photo? I don't think that is the point. 

Exactly... I didn't say that was the point.  I said she chose that picture for a reason and it's depicting something ILLEGAL in the areas she wants to show it.  Are you saying you should be able to advertise for murder, drug use, segregation, etc?

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