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Thread: Photographer Harassed Online After Using American Flag as Prop for Baby Photo

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Photographer Harassed Online After Using American Flag as Prop for Baby Photo

    Photographer Vanessa Hicks is fighting back today after being chastised and harassed online for using an American flag as a prop during a baby photo shoot. It was a simple Facebook share that has gotten quite a bit of national attention.

    A few days ago, on March 8th, Hicks — a veteran of the US Navy — shared a photo of an 8-day-old baby named Landon being held up by his father — a member of the US Navy — in an American flag:



    Hicks says she wanted to honor the flag and incorporate the family’s military background into the portrait.

    The photographer got a number of positive comments about the photo and the shoot, but some people didn’t approve of the flag being used in this way. One of the critics was Facebook page You Call Yourself a Photographer?, which shared the image with its audience with a scathing message for Hicks:

    You Call Yourself a Photographer? shared Vanessa Hicks Photography's photo.

    The flag is not a prop.

    I repeat: THE FLAG IS NOT A PROP

    To use the American flag in such a way is disrespectful, rude, tacky, disgusting, and against the U.S. Flag Code.

    Let me point out a few key points of that code:
    *The flag should never touch anything beneath it
    *The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free
    *The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should ALWAYS be allowed to fall free
    *The flag should never be used in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way
    *The flag should never be used as a covering
    *The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything
    *The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any way whatsoever
    *No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume

    This flag is a symbol of everything my son died for many years ago. It was of the utmost honor to have a flag laid upon your coffin as my son did. That honor is taken away when disrespectful photographers throw our flag code out the window. Although you can't see it anymore, I posted another picture from this same photographer a few minutes ago who had a naked baby on that same flag I laid upon my son's casket. She allowed that baby to pee and poop on that flag that is meant to honor our fallen soldiers. Disgusting.

    Mr. Clevenger, you have disgraced our fallen soldiers as well by disobeying that code. I don't know what the military teaches these days but I do know my son was taught the flag code and also taught that any disobedience towards that code would result in repercussions from your command....yet here you are in uniform, name fully visible, on a photographer's Facebook page disobeying that code and dishonoring our fallen soldiers and you obviously don't care.
    “This flag is a symbol of everything my son died for many years ago. It was of the utmost honor to have a flag laid upon your coffin as my son did,” the page writes. “That honor is taken away when disrespectful photographers throw our flag code out the window.”

    People soon started sending Hicks angry messages, and the story began attracting the attention of media outlets. Here’s ABC’s coverage:

    Soon there was an outpour of support for Hicks as commenters began to leave positive messages to boost her spirits and defend her photograph. She responded with an update yesterday:

    So I figured I would share with all of you what has transpired in the past 24 hours! This is coming straight from my personal page:

    **Long post but please read**
    Yesterday was a hard day for me.
    Yesterday, I almost let the hatred of some cyber bullies get to me.
    Yesterday, I ALMOST believed them.

    I posted a picture that I had recently taken of a military man holding his newborn son in a vinyl prop flag that I purchased at The Dollar Store. I love the shot. The family loves the shot. Most of you loved the shot.

    Yesterday, I woke up to see this photo was shared on a group site that is meant to bash other photographers. It was in their opinion I had disrespected our nations flag. I had disrespected our country by taking this picture. Several of these people not only bashed the picture, but me, saying I should be ashamed of myself, my husband should be ashamed, etc and I received several private messages to my business page. They even took it a step farther and bashed the service member in the picture, hoping he gets in trouble for participating in desecration of the flag.

    I am very well aware of our U.S Flag code. I also know exactly what desecration of a flag is. It's when you pull into ports and you see protestors with our flag and have spray painted horrible things on it. It's when you watch the news and you see other countries burning our flags, and you are a young Quartermaster scared because you know you are just a few nautical miles from that exact country.

    I almost let these cyber bullies get me yesterday. I could have easily deleted the picture off of my business page and ended it with that. I almost did. Then I thought, WHY?

    These cyber bullies would win!
    Hell no!
    So I went to the group and I stood up to them. I stood up for what I believed in! And you know what, so did so many others! A photography group saw the picture and agreed there was nothing disrespectful about it and went to the page and stood up for it. Friends, who I didn't even say anything to, somehow saw it and went and stood up for the picture.
    The HONOR of the picture.
    In the last 24 hours, the image has gone viral. From my business page, over 12,000 people have seen the image.
    This morning, two local reporters have contacted me wanting to talk about this image and the affects of cyber bullying and pages like this.

    I didn't ask for any of this. I just took a picture.

    But, I stood up for the picture. To me, that is what being an American is about.

    **I have been asked by many if they could share this picture and status and you sure can! I'm not doing this for any other reason except for every service member, including this one in this photo, who has wrapped in this flag that so many wanted to defend, the main thing he would fight for, his family. The men and woman in our military, they are the true heroes. Not me, I just took a stand.**

    Thanks for reading!
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    Last edited by Rusty Jones; 03-12-2015 at 11:37 AM.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Continued
    You Call Yourself a Photographer? then responded with a Facebook update of its own:

    Let's stop and be real here for a minute shall we?

    Our page is nothing but a business review page. We see a bad photographer, we review their work publicly for others to see.

    Are business reviews considered bullying? If I go to a restaurant and their food is always cold and I say so on my page, is that bullying them? No. Sorry. It's not. Stating the truth about a bad business is not bullying. It's what the public deserves


    The hypocrites that state we are bullying others are also the ones calling us names unimaginable and telling us we should kill ourselves. Why? Because we stuck up for a FEDERAL LAW, the U.S Flag Code? We aren't the law breakers here. We aren't the ones that disrespected the flag code. What did we do? We pointed out yet another photographer has respected our flag. That's not MY opinion. That's the law. That's the code. It's not up for your own interpretation. None of us are to decide what is respectful and what isn't because it's CLEARLY written out for all of you. It's stated in the code that certain things are to be done to respect that flag. When you KNOW all that and yet you still do exactly what it's telling you not to, we have a problem.

    It's been stated that we have no affiliation with the military and those that serve should be the ones to do what they want with the flag. For the record, I've been in 27 years. My son who passed away served almost 5. Every admin of this page is somehow affiliated with the military. Do any of us think we should do whatever we want with the flag because we've served? No. We do what we swore to do and part of that is to uphold the U.S. Flag Code. We do what is the law. There is a reason the flag code is what is it. People didn't just wake up one day and put it together. It was well thought out and with reason.

    It's also been mentioned elsewhere as to why we aren't here cracking down on those that turn the flag into bathing suits and towels and what not. We feature a photographer's work when they are so below the level of what a professional photographer should be. We only feature those that are taking people's hard earned money. We feature those that are ripping people off and making this industry a joke. We also feature those that break laws LIKE THE U.S. FLAG CODE. We feature those that put their clients in danger. Of course we don't condone any breaking of the U.S. Law Code and therefore don't condone putting the flag on clothes and bathing suits and anything else you can think of but we aren't here to fight a war on that.

    In reading comments regarding that photographer's work who put a NAKED BABY on the flag (that was on the ground of course) and holding up the baby by the father, it's clear that some of you have no idea what good photography actually looks like. Those were in no way a good picture of professional quality and nobody should be paying for that So, here ya go. Although we don't condone the use of the flag as a prop or in any way breaking the U.S. Flag Code, you all need to see an actual professional tackle the same concept. Lighting is superb. White balance is spot on. The baby is actually in focus. THIS is what a professional should produce. Now go compare this image with that other shared on this page yesterday...

    Hicks is continuing to stand by her photo and the photograph is now going viral online. It appears the vast majority of public comments — including on the original critical Facebook posts — are in defense of Hicks and her work. What are your thoughts on this matter?
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    Last edited by Rusty Jones; 03-12-2015 at 11:38 AM.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
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    Senior Member efmbman's Avatar
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    The US Flag Code is indeed a law. However, the code does not prescribe penalties for improper use or treatment of the US flag. As far as I know, all attempts to criminalize improper use or treatment of the US flag have been ruled as unconstitutional. Because of this, it is more like a code of conduct or a guide to flag etiquette.

    I have no issue with the photo, the person requesting the photo, nor the photographer.

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    It seems like, ever since 9/11 - and boosted with the election of Obama - levels of patriotism have become one big dick measuring contest, where whenever anyone does anything with the American flag (or other symbols, such as bald eagles, or making themselves out to be youtube heroes by outting fakers in uniform, etc); everyone is ready to beat them up over it, despite the fact that their intentions were likely 100% patriotic in nature. But that doesn't matter. Every American is ready to kick eachother's asses over their own perceptions of what being "disrespectful" to our country is. Looks to me like there's some kind of contagious psychosis going around.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Senior Member TJMAC77SP's Avatar
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    Some people have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time on their hands.
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    Banned sandsjames's Avatar
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    No problem with the flag pictures. I'd imagine that half the people bitching display the flag improperly on a regular basis anyway. Patriotism should never be about symbols, but about what's best for the country. Any use, or misuse, of the flag does nothing to harm 'Murka.

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    Senior Member Rollyn01's Avatar
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    There should be a caption under the photo that says "An American service-member carries freedom wherever they go wrapped in the warm blanket of the U.S. Constitution." I think the symbolism would be obvious but they would probably complain about that too.
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    Administrator UncaRastus's Avatar
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    Back in the 60s when I was a paperboy, I was out on my bike, delivering papers when I saw at a hippy commune house an American flag being used as a seat pad on a child's tricycle. I took that flag off of the seat, put it into my paper delivery bag and took it home with me. Since the children at the commune went naked during the summer (when this occurred), the flag had to be washed before I put it out on the flagpole in our front yard.

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    Banned sandsjames's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UncaRastus View Post
    Back in the 60s when I was a paperboy, I was out on my bike, delivering papers when I saw at a hippy commune house an American flag being used as a seat pad on a child's tricycle. I took that flag off of the seat, put it into my paper delivery bag and took it home with me. Since the children at the commune went naked during the summer (when this occurred), the flag had to be washed before I put it out on the flagpole in our front yard.
    Nice...so stealing from children is more appropriate than someone displaying a flag, most likely with good intentions (no matter how against the "code" it is). You should be proud of setting such a great example. I'm sure they learned their lesson.

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    1. Don't have an issue with the photographs; I actually like the concept once I saw it and showed my wife ... we may use something similar for our kiddo.

    2. The only thing about that article that makes me :rolleyes2: is mentioning that the photographer is a veteran and her spouse is still active duty; to me it doesn't really matter ... being a vet doesn't give you more creative liscense with the flag than someone who isn't. Good taste above all.
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