Photographer faces law suit

Started Aug 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
santamonica812
Contributing MemberPosts: 801
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Re: Clever Business
In reply to Leon Wittwer, Sep 1, 2013

Leon Wittwer wrote:

santamonica812 wrote:

The reason why I think the photographer should have won--as a matter of law--is that (as a photographer) I see photography as an art form. And artists should be allowed to pick and choose their subjects . . . even if those artists are bigoted scummy a**holes. But the courts in this case have rejected this view of photography, rejected this argument, and so it's not surprising to see this court ruling.

As an artist, you create a work and hope that some one buys it. There is no assumption of a purchase at the time of creation. If you have a business, there is the legal requirement in New Mexico to provide your service without regard to sexual orientation, race, etc. The customer has agreed to purchase before the creation. That does not mean that you can not be artistic in your business but the business part comes first.

Well, sometimes.  In fact, many artists are commissioned to create works of art.  Local, federal, and state governments hire artists to create works for display in public places (ex: pretty much every statue you see in a public park).  Photographers at the top of the game (reputation-wise) are hired to travel to exotic countries and to create amazing photos, or  to create artistic advertisements (ex: annie liebovitz).

I never fully read the written court decision in this case.  But I gather that the court found that these wedding photographers were less like artists in their craft, and more like regular people providing a service.  Sort of like drawing a distinction between Van Gogh and a housepainter.  But can offer their services to the public.  But one offers a unique view of the world (as expressed through the medium of painting) while the other offers a more mundane view--one that could be replaced by any other housepainter.

I completely agree with the rest of your analysis.  As a lawyer, I have represented some truly awful people.  I would lump this person in with that group . . . I have little love for anyone with an irrational fear or hatred of any disadvantaged group.  But I've seen enough amazing wedding photography to see it as art, and not as a fungible skill (we've all seen poor photography, and boy is there a difference between that and good work!).  This tips the scale for me.  Note that I am unpersuaded by the "religious freedom" argument . . . if the court had accepted it, it would have opened the door to bigots of all stripes discriminating against gays, Jews, blacks, Muslims, etc etc etc, so long as the bigot claimed a religious base for his or her prejudice.  In other words, all our anti-discrimination laws would have been gutted.

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