An Open Letter To Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

Governor Hutchinson, 

I am a lifelong resident of the state of Arkansas, and I am proud to call our great state home. I am also a professional photographer here in Little Rock. My first Arkansas business license as a photographer is dated January 1, 2009 and I've enjoyed a successful business in this field for the past six and a half years.

I have been the chief photographer for the Clinton School of Public Service for the past five years, and I am a regular contributor to the New York Times, Reuters, Getty Images, and the Associated Press. I also photograph dozens of weddings and events throughout the state of Arkansas every year.

There is a bill on your desk known as SB-79.

If enacted, this law would make it extremely difficult to do my job as a photographer, and I am writing this letter to kindly request that you veto the bill.

According to the text of SB-79, which I have read in its entirety, the next time I shoot a wedding, I would be legally required to have all the wedding attendants, guests, family members, musical performers, and officiants sign photo releases giving me their express written consent to publish photos with their likeness in the state of Arkansas, and I would also have to track down the parents of the flower girl and ring bearer to get their express written consent as well. And we can't forget all the servers or bartenders at the reception, and the limo driver, and anyone else that happens to appear at the event. The videographer of course would also have to do the same, and he and I would have to sign forms giving each other express written consent in the event that either of us might appear in each other’s photographs or videos. 

I would honestly have to hire a new employee to follow me around at every wedding and reception with a stack of forms, handing them out to everyone as I take their photos, and explaining to them that the Arkansas Legislature enacted a law requiring me to do this, and as you might expect, many people would be put off by this request, and refuse to sign, and I would be restricted from using any photos where those people are identifiable when I post the final photo gallery online for the client and their family and friends to view. 

This entire process would also be required at any other event that does not fall under the exempted umbrella of “news, public affairs, or sports broadcast.”

This law effectively makes wedding and event photography in Arkansas illegal. 

Mr. Governor, please veto SB-79 before it kills a valuable industry in this state. 

Thank you very much for your time and service to our great state.

Jacob Slaton

To read the full text of SB-79, click here

To read more about the bill, and what you can do about it, including writing a letter to Governor Hutchinson yourself, click here

This bill must be vetoed by Tuesday, March 31, or this law will stand.

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