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

while I don't disagree that the photographer may be using this picture and the whole situation as a stunt, I think your examples lack similarities to the issue, being gay isn't something they do (like a pot head hitting a bong, or a murderer... well, murdering), but something they are. I think it would have been the same reaction had they deny the photographer the right to advertise based on the couple being black/brown/purple

What?? First, no one is purple.  Where do you live?  Second, this has NOTHING to do with being gay.  It's a thing that is ILLEGAL.  Murdering is illegal, drugs (and in some cases drug "accessories"), are illegal.  It doesn't matter that you might think it's a silly law.  People are so god damn mental, that they actually think someone is saying the couple in the photo can't be gay.  Who cares about them??  This is about the PHOTOGRAPHER submitting a particular image.  If you can't advertise for money laundering, bongs, and devices designed to torture babies, then you can't advertise for any other illegal product or service.  Maybe people should be worried about changing a law they don't agree with instead of attacking a magazine for doing nothing wrong.  Or maybe attack the photographer for taking advantage of peoples' sympathies?  No, can't do that.  Better just go with the crowd on this one...

Yeah, that sound over your head?... forget it; let me try again without using out of the box examples.I DON'T DISAGREE WITH YOU, the magazine had the right to deny service (they do not have the right to avoid repercussions for their choices, they chose to stand by their target audience, some people may chose to stand by not buying that magazine), and all this sounds like a marketing stunt. THAT BEING SAID, making something somebody IS (race, creed, sexual preference), should on itself be illegal. I AGREE WITH YOUR POINT, NOT WITH YOUR EXAMPLES.Hope that clears out the misunderstanding

replace 'same sex' with 'black' to see how ridiculous some of the comments are. 'This ad is only going to appeal to the LGBT (black) community.. Anyone else (white) will be turned off by the ad'.

I am far more concerned about people dealing with controversial subjects as a tool, instead of for the sake of that subjects, say homosexuality, or whatever. These people are the worst, as they only act to benefit themselfs. Frankly, I prever the old "never-to-know-better"-Redneck to the businessman, allthough I´m far from sharing his belives, and I like the bigott christian better than the Photographer who just made an PR-Stunt. That does not keep me from thinking that fighting gay-marriage still sounds retarded.

This was bad design on the part of the photographer. To me, the ad screams "I only shoot gay weddings" or "I have an agenda" which is guaranteed to turn off many of her potential hetro clients. I have looked thru many of the popular weddings magazines over the years, and I have never come across an ad with only a same-sex couple featured. Even if the photographer him/herself is gay, but photographs hetro and gay weddings, they would be shooting themselves in the foot by submitting an ad like the one above. A better choice would have been to include a few more shots from her portfolio to appeal to both audiences, making it less of an issue on both sides.

The magazine will most likely feel the repercussion if they print the ad is. Like was said a few times above, many advertisers will drop their ads. And be warned of the advertiser that get placed below or next to the ad. Like it or not, that is the society we live in. Some get it, others don't and never will.

You mean make the ad more generic like everyone else's?

Absolutely not.

If she is a photographer worth her salt, she should be able to position herself uniquely thru her marketing without having to resort to measures that compromise herself as a photographer or the media she is trying to use, both of which she did here, intentionally or not. Using a gay wedding in her ad certainly made her unique in the magazine she was planning to advertise, but it was the wrong market. Not to say that gay couples would not pick up this magazine, but I think it is pretty obvious that gay couples is not who this magazine's main target was.

She got thousands of dollars worth of FREE advertising and mentions than should would had in her paid $500 advert... So no matter how many haters and bigots we have on this forum, she still won the marketing game.

Why are you celebrating this? Her getting free advertising from this does not look good toward her reputation as a business person. If everyone "marketed" this way, no one would make any money. And the majority of the comments on here are not "hating". They are simply calling her out on what appears to be an intentional exploitation of a gay couple to get her name "out there".

To me it is just sad the publishers didn't follow their beliefs. Stand for something, or fall for everything!

It's the south people. How many sponsors do you think would pull their ads from the magazine after seeing this ad published. I suport gay marrige, as a photographer I would be honred to have the oportunity to shoot one. But as a business man, I would not risk my magazine or my employees income source, for one ad. And lets be honest, the image is not that good at all.

Its the SOUTH people. First off, I suport 100% people getting married to whomever they love, and as a photographer would love the oportunity to shoot a gay wedding. That said, as a businesman I have a responsability with my employees, and would never risk the wellbeing of the magazine for a photographer just trying to make controversy. Can you imagine how many sponsors would pull their ads the month after printing this. Probably enough to go out of business. Some people are ignorant and stupid, but printing this ad is not going to solve that issue.

On the other hand, I think the photographer knew the ad was going to get rejected, and knew exactly what to do to make it viral and get all this free attention at the magazine's cost. Which in my opinion (if true) is even less ethic than the hole ad issue.

When you create a publication based on subscriptions you do so with the reader in mind.  Sadly this is such a hot button issue in our country that they could potentially lose a lot of readership and subscriptions.  

I know all of you are going to jump on me at once and say good for them for standing up for yourself, but the truth is these two people are running a small business.  The purpose of a business it to make money and love what you do. 

I also know alot of you will say those two lines are reversed, and you should "love what you do" first.  That's all fine and great but it doesn't pay the bills, and not paying the bills results in you "not loving what you do"

By publishing this advert they run the risk of losing subscriptions and potentially other advertisers because of the firestorm that surrounds this subject.  I really doubt that Weddings Unveiled wants to be a martyr for a cause they clearly have no stake with in the first place.

Weddings Unveiled made the right decision with the future of their business in mind.  Is it fair? No, it's not.  Was it a difficult conclusion to come to?  Probably.

Finally as a word of advice for Weddings Unveiled, such a topic should have discussed over the phone.  Email can be cold and words can be misunderstood.  There should have been a better explanation to the photographer as to the position.  I'm willing to bet if the above would have been discussed the outcome of this incident would have been different.

Who knows?  Maybe after a phone conversation Weddings Unveiled would have changed their position on the issue.

I really don't think that they should be compelled to run the ad if it indeed against their beliefs.
However, I find the disconnect between what they say they believe and their actions: 

"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."
So they think they can have it both ways I guess. If they really believe that all love is beautiful then why did they not stick to their beliefs and just run the ad instead of worrying about what other people think. 

“to me, it says love. It says home. It says joy.” (quoting Anne Almasy).To me the ad says "Anne Almasy - Photographer"
So if I was looking for a photographer, I would judge their talent by their photos, and this ad would not make me want to hire her, because, as many have said, its not a picture of quality.

I read about this on another site yesterday and this whole thing seems so ridiculously silly. This ad is such a non-issue all around. 

I live in Texas. Say some photographer bought a full page ad in the front of Martha Stewart Weddings with two girls kissing. Now take the most conservative, newly-engaged girl in Texas and I guarantee she still buys the Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. Why? Because when you're about to become a bride you're thinking about yourself and your wedding. Brides are looking at bridal magazines for their perfect dress and the bouquet they want to copy. They're not worried about the tablescape designer being gay/straight or who the groomsman model kisses at night or who the editor voted for. They are trapped in their own bubble of selfishness about their fairy-tale day that they get to plan. The only message this ad sends is that Anne is a mediocre photographer who photographed a lesbian wedding. Big deal - so have a lot of other photographers. But she paid the money and in terms of quality alone I've seen FAR WORSE 'professional' photographer ads in major bridal publications. In the end the only impact is on her - No bride is going to think "well, I really don't like the quality of her photography but since she supports gay/lesbian marriage I will hire her for my wedding. It's ok if my photos suck."

Clearly, she had an end goal which I think was achieved. When asked if she had any other image she would like to advertise with, she said no. A professional photographer with, undoubtedly, a large portfolio to select from, and she didn't have ONE other picture she felt worthy to advertise? She just took the scenic route to getting herself recognized by 'stirring the pot', rather than submitting a more widely acceptable & traditional wedding photo. Although after looking through her portfolio, I can perhaps understand her predicament. I don't find her images to be anything spectacular. And I'm not saying this for any reason other than I just don't find her images to be anything spectacular. So if she had to choose being "traditional mediocre" and "unconventional mediocre", I suppose she made the better decision because here we all are talking about it.

Anne will have to accept the fact that same-sex marriage is still not accepted as she feels it is or should be. The magazine wants to maintain a certain reputation, and frankly many would be offended by the image. If Anne is being disingenuous and really just wanted to make a political statement, then who really gives a flying rats ass.... i am sick and tired of in your face, force down your throat, ram-rod it in the brain political socially engineering frap that fills our culture..... i don't give a sh*t what you do, don't force me to accept it on your level....... too much of this kind of crap all around us...... go do your thing over there, leave me alone.... again, i don't care what you do with it.......

The photographer owes the magazine an apology. This is a publicity stunt. Plain and simple.

I think the magazine should have handled the conversation  with the photographer differently but it kind of makes sense that they as a business would make a decision in what they feel was their best interest. The fact the the distribution of the magazine is primarily in states where same sex marriage has yet to be legalized is enough to justify their decision. All that being said I think it's ridiculous that same sex marriage is still an issue.

Bottom line.......    I think same sex marriage should be legally recognized........what about polygamy.......I want to marry 10 women legally and get tax benefits!......!!!!!!!!

Great article!

"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."

Did you seriously just compare a picture of a lesbian couple kissing to being indecent in public?