Clane Gessel – Harassment and Discrimination Needs to be Addressed in the Wedding Industry
In what has been a year of reckoning in many ways, I thought it was time to make clear where the Clane Gessel Photography team stands when it comes to harassment and discrimination in the wedding industry.
Earlier this year, I lost a client who objected to a post on my Instagram story that I had taken from a Black Lives Matter protest. They had told me that they didn’t feel “comfortable” with me at their wedding, and as I told the New York Times in an article published in August, I was not too bothered to see them go. Following quote taken from The New York Times article on harassment:
The New York-based photographer Clane Gessel also lost a client when he posted an Instagram story while at a Black Lives Matter protest. First the clients unfollowed his social media account. Then they called to say that they didn’t feel “comfortable” with Mr. Gessel at the wedding and didn’t want their wedding photos next to posts that “don’t support the guests’ views.”
Mr. Gessel wasn’t bothered by the cancellation. “Silence is the enemy here, and the only reason we see change is when people speak and act out,” he said. “We should speak up regardless of the monetary penalties involved to do what’s right.”
This incident is not the first time I’ve had to let go of a client or make changes in order to ensure the safety and comfort of my team. Since starting my business, I have been lucky to work with a diverse team, which has not always been appreciated by some clients who have specifically asked me not to send a team member because of their race or have even insinuated that the gender of the photographer made them not good enough for the job. When instances like this have occurred, I have not been afraid to fire clients and let the couples in question know that I will no longer be a part of their wedding. In the case when the discrimination or harassment does not occur until the day of the wedding, I am happy to protect my photographers by taking them off the project and giving them a paid vacation day.
Unfortunately, the issue of discrimination in the wedding industry does not exist solely between clients and vendors. It also exists between vendors.
As we all know, the perfect wedding requires the seamless harmonization of vendors from make-up artists and florists to planners and photographers. Although we may be on separate teams, we are all working towards the same goal of giving our couples the celebration of their dreams. Not only do we rely on each other on the day of the wedding we can also support one another by making recommendations for future clients. At Clane Gessel Photography, we do not condone vendors who discriminate and exclude other businesses based on the race, gender, or sexual orientation of their employees.
If this sounds like a trivial matter, I assure you that it’s not. In 2018, the Supreme Court narrowly ruled against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission who had brought charges against Masterpiece Cakeshop for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple due to his religious beliefs. Although the court ruled in favor of the baker, I disagree with this decision, and his argument that create professionals should be free to create art consistent with their convictions. This was a case of discrimination and I couldn’t agree more with the dissent of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who wrote “when a couple contacts a bakery for a wedding cake, the product they are seeking is a cake celebrating their wedding—not a cake celebrating heterosexual or same-sex weddings.”
2020 is a year that has challenged the wedding industry in many ways. We all dealt with the flood of cancellations and postponements and adjusted our business plans for weddings with smaller guest lists and more hand sanitizer. Like we met the challenges of the pandemic, we must now also meet the challenges to the status quo set in motion by the Black Lives Matter protests that continue peacefully across the U.S. and around the world. That’s why today we are putting forth this mission statement:
“At Clane Gessel Photography, we believe in equality, diversity, and love, no matter what it looks like. As world travelers, we embrace diversity and do not tolerate discrimination or harassment and are willing to defend and stand with any peer, colleague, or client who faces intolerance in our industry. We also believe that equality starts with language. For us, there is no such thing as a “gay wedding” or an “interracial wedding.” We only believe in weddings, which are a celebration of love and commitment between two souls.
My studio is entirely comprised of all women and minorities (outside Clane Gessel), and we are well known for shooting weddings of all creeds, races, sexual orientations, religions, and people from all walks of life. Love is love, and the Clane Gessel Studio doesn’t stand for harassment of any kind.
We’ve shot some of our favorite images from weddings of the same sex, or weddings of minority religious groups or races. We believe in marriage equality and proudly support weddings of all backgrounds. See some of our favorite weddings that feature minorities or same-sex weddings here:
To see more images from this beautiful wedding, shoot us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re getting married and want beautiful wedding photography like you see here, be sure to contact us today and we’d be honored to shoot your wedding! We are based in New York City and shoot all over the world, and would love to shoot your wedding!
Want to view more beautiful wedding images? Check out our galleries here!