Using the Stars and Stripes in photography

It’s that time of year again –  Independence Day weekend!  It’s usually a time when patriotic pride swells within us.  It’s a time for parades, celebrations, picnics with friends and families and flags are flown proudly.  I have a lot of British friends so of course there are more than a few emails and phone calls coming up this weekend.  Yeah, we tend to be a nation filled with pride, and many (myself included) would say rightfully so.  Seeing the Stars and Stripes flying high…or sadly flying at half mast…still brings a lump to my throat.  So it’s no surprise that we want the Stars and Stripes in our photography.  Just look at Pinterest and you’ll find countless examples of people proudly using our nation’s flag in their images.  Awesome idea…right!?  Wait a minute, before you pick up the phone or hit us up on the website with your flag inspired portrait shoots…there are a few things I’d ask you to think about.

I believe absolutely amazing images can be built around the flag…BUT, there’s a difference between a prop and a flag, and they’re important to remember as we start designing your photography experience.

Combination of symbols represented on a piece of cloth, serving as a medium of social, typically political, communication. It is usually rectangular and attached by one edge to a staff or is hoisted on a pole with halyards. Flags appear to be as old as civilized human society, though their origin is not well understood. The Chinese may have been the first to develop cloth flags, and it is believed that they were introduced to Europe by returning Crusaders. Most national flags in use today were designed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Showing your pride by incorporating the Stars and Stripes is a wonderful idea, but here are a few tips to keep in mind.

– The flag should always be flown with respect, with the star field at the top.  A flag flown upside down is a sign of distress.

– Our flag should never be draped over something as a cover or used as a decoration.  Remember flags are draped over the caskets of our fallen as a sign of a nation’s respect.  Do you think the coffee table deserves that same reverence?

– The flag should never be allowed to touch the ground.

– I know it’s incredibly popular, but the flag should not be worn as clothing or used as a cover.  Using red, white and blue themed clothing works terrific as a stand-in and you’ll look incredible.  Patches worn on uniforms are the exception to this one.

– Should never be altered (writing, images, etc).  She’s pretty much perfect just the way she is.

There are some terrific images out there.  However, no matter how cute the kids, or beautiful the model, stepping on the flag, sitting on the flag, draping it over a nude body, etc…is still disrespecting a very important symbol of our nation.  I’m pretty lucky now days.  Living in DC there are countless opportunities and inspirations for incorporating Ol’ Glory into the images we create for our couples, but I constantly remember that that image is going to be hanging in the couple’s home.  The last thing I want to do is create a situation where there is an awkward conversation for them at the next family get-together.

If you’re like me, I tend to want to read it for myself.  So here’s a little light reading for you, in the form of a report prepared for a Senate committee.  Rachel Brenke, the Law Tog, wrote a great piece on this subject too.  You can check it out here.


Getting married and would like us to be there for you?  Couples are already booking their 2015 dates…and locking in 2014 prices (I love a smart couple)  Click here to contact us now to see if your big day is available and let’s get to know each other.

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