What a Photographer is suppose to be

A photographer is suppose to provide a voice for the voiceless. They are suppose to tell the story of those who are unable to tell it themselves. Whether that story is genocide in Darfur, the space shuttle or a wedding - A photographer is suppose to give their unbiased documentation of what they see. Photographers are not suppose to follow political ties whilst documenting. Photographers exist to document history. As James Natchwey once said: "If we don't tell their story....who will." Story is the most important tool of a photographer. Not gear, not lenses, not software....but story. Without story, we are nothing more than button pushers. I was very disheartened this morning when I received an email from a gentleman looking for a photographer for his same sex wedding. He was turned down by a good portion of the Buffalo wedding photography community. Instead of finding an opportunity to photograph something new these photographers chose to become the exact disease that photography tries to cure. These photographers were given an opportunity to be different, to document something new but instead chose to be political and "moral." The truth is photographers are suppose to tell all stories, and if a photographer isn't willing to push themselves to be a non biased observed and documentarian then they should not be in the story telling business. Documenting a story is not political. Documenting a story is absolutely necessary for our history. The photograph is still a new medium, it's just shy of 200yrs old. Documented human history is somewhere between 8-10,000 years. There is still so much to photograph. To opt out of an opportunity to document a story because in a polling booth you slid a button of a particular party is simply shameful. To opt out of documenting a wedding for a same sex couple because you feel they shouldn't have rights is shameful. Photographers need to be better than that - People need to be better than that. Photographers need to be at the forefront of telling a story. And now for the business side of this argument. It's one thing if you have a legitimate booking and simple can't do that date, I can understand that. What I can't understand is how you can be belligerent and simply deny someone  service because you don't like their way of life. History of oppression has taught us time and time again that refusing business to a certain group of people will come back and bite you. Women were refused the option to vote and go to work, how did that work out? African Americans were told they were 3/5 a white person and couldn't vote, or couldn't go to school - how did that work out? The wedding business is a $40,000,000,000 industry and that market just exploded with the passing of same sex marriage in New York. Why would any photographer, from a business standpoint - in an economy that is getting worse - want to refuse business because they want to take "moral high ground." I was very happy to say yes to this couple, and be there to document the most important day of their relationship. I'm very disappointed in my fellow photographers in Western New York who refused business.  I'm very disappointed in my fellow photographers in Western New York who don't understand their role as a photographer and a storyteller.  I'm very disappointed in my fellow photographers in Western New York who think that all people don't deserve the same rights. But it forces me to, in time, bring these photographers to the fore front and find out why they are going against the very fabric of what a photographer is suppose to be. I'm very disappointed in my fellow photographers in Western New York who clearly don't understand good business. I'm disappointed that in 2011, after everything this country has gone through, I need to be having this conversation. Photographers are suppose to be better. They should be better. Nb

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