The title of this blog is simple. But the topic is not. I am totally going to be talking about a super touchy subject today, but it’s really been weighing on my mind for some time. So here it goes.
WHOA. Touchy subject? Well yes my friends, it IS a touchy subject. And one I think needs to be addressed ASAP.
I like to stay in touch with the media (although actually WATCHING the news is always a bit of a bummer for me, so I choose my favorite websites to read from… and NO, People is not one of them! lol). I’m sure y’all heard recently about the photographer in New Mexico that refused to shoot a gay wedding, it went to court and the judgement was against her. Now, I read numerous court reports regarding what was said to the potential clients… and in my opinion- she was wrong to say what she did to the couple.
Just think, if she had said something simple like ” I am so sorry, BUT I am completely booked for that month. I do have a few other photographers that might have openings” and just refer them to another photographer (who WOULD happily take the couple), she could have avoided this whole expensive, embarrassing debacle, while still holding on to her personal integrity and dignity.
Do I think that photographers, as well as any business owner, have the right to decide who we do and do not service? Yes and No…
Yes- I believe as a photographer, we have the right to turn away potential clients. Sometimes we may not be a good fit together- on different pages, different beliefs, different styles, etc. But I also believe HOW you deliver the “news” to these potential clients needs to be done in a professional and tasteful manner.
Now when I say NO… here is my reasoning to the no- When we turn down a client, while we need to be tasteful in the matter itself, we also need to remember that there are anti-discrimination laws that we, as business owners, must abide to. We have the RIGHT to say no, but we do NOT have the RIGHT to say no BECAUSE YOU are________ (fill in the blank) … do you see where I am going with this? In today’s America, you can’t just turn down a client because you don’t like the lifestyle they are living or the way they look. Sorry to say it, but it’s true. And if you do- and you decide to TELL THE PERSON you are turning down WHY, you are opening a bag of worms for yourself and your company reputation. It comes down to what I have repeated here already twice… HOW you deliver your message needs to be done in a professional and tasteful manner. TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WANT TO BE TREATED, PEOPLE!!!!
I truly believe that sticky situations can be dealt with in a professional and even loving way, without compromising your own personal integrity. We have the choice to be graceful and kind or rude and demeaning. Which would you rather choose to be? My momma always taught me that you attract more bees with honey than vinegar. And no, this saying doesn’t constitute being “fake”… its about treating others with kindness and respect- even when you disagree with a lifestyle they live.
Ok… with the gay marriage debacle out of the way, I am now going to touch on a subject that was brought to my attention tonight. This topic is always a HOT one in the photographer world- STEALING others work.
Yeah. Stealing. Plagiarism. Selling work that isn’t your own. Then LYING about it.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about the drama with a famous, very well known in the photography community, photog Jasmine Star. I have been a follower of hers for quite a few years now, adore her work and have adored her just in general. I am not going to bash Jasmine here- because I don’t need to, and don’t want to. But I will say how incredibly disappointed I was tonight when I read a few recent articles about her blogging/tweeting/FB and plagiarism. And sadly, I don’t think a simple apology is going to cut it this time around (this is not the first time this has happened).
We all make mistakes. Don’t get me wrong. But when we were kids, our teachers/parents/adults SHOULD have taught us that stealing other peoples work/words/photographs is wrong. Taking a paragraph and changing a few words and adding a sentence is still plagiarism. Now… I KNOW y’all pulled some crap like this in Jr. High and High School… don’t lie to yourself. I’ll be the first to admit that in college, I didn’t properly cite a few authors and resources. But I NEVER took someone else’s work, something that someone else had put their thoughts and mind into, and claimed it as my own. Ever. That is a piece of integrity my mother instilled in me and I am proud to say that I am instilling it into my children as well. And I pray they instill it into their children and so on.
I am the recent victim of someone stealing my work and claiming it as their own. When I was alerted about this, I was a whirlwind of emotions. I was hurt, angry, TICKED, creeped out, but most of all angry. I was angry that someone took MY work, the photographs that I have poured my heart and soul into, and claimed them as her own. Worst of all… she took pictures of ME and said it was her… Creepy, right?
While I took proper measures, both legally and professionally, I was still upset and hurt. and ANGRY. How DARE this crazy person try to pass herself off as me? How DARE this crazy person try to say MY WORK was hers! I have to thank FB, Twitter, Pinterest and the web host provider for acting so quickly to take her stuff down (I’m sure they didn’t want to deal with an ugly lawsuit). But I keep wondering where on EARTH is this woman’s integrity?
When did it become OK to steal? And steal so blatantly, at that? It’s NOT OK, folks. It’s just not OK.
Where did our sense of respect for others go? When did integrity become a thing of the past?
Integrity is something that is inside us, friends. That deep core of knowing what is truly right and wrong, religious beliefs set aside. Religion plays an even bigger role when it comes to integrity, and while I am NOT going to go into that today, I believe we are all born with an innate sense of good and bad, right and wrong. HOW we deal with our own personal integrity and business ethics is up to us, solely as individuals.
So where is this “Line” I am talking about? The LINE is clearly up to you, fellow togs. You are most likely your own boss, heck- you might even be someone else’s boss, so be a LEADER. Set an example of professionalism and integrity. RAISE THE BAR.
RAISE THE BAR OF INTEGRITY.