Billboard Company Cancels Photographer’s Contract

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, CBS Outdoor — a St. Paul, Minn. billboard company — canceled a contract with Suzanne Opton. The contract was for a series of photographs of American soldiers that would be displayed on the billboards, as part of Opton’s series called “Soldier Billboard Project.”

The images were taken of soldiers at Fort Drum, New York, in 2004 and 2005. Opton had permission from both the soldiers and their commanders. Images from the series are in in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Library of Congress and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. They have also been widely exhibited both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Jodi Senese, CBS Outdoor’s executive vice president of marketing, wrote Opton: “The reason we have advised you that we cannot post these as billboards is that out-of-context (neither in a museum setting or website) the images, as stand-alone highway or city billboards, appear to be deceased soldiers. The presentation in this manner could be perceived as being disrespectful to the men and women in our armed forces.”



  1. says

    This post doesn’t make clear whether she had been contracted by the billboard company, or she had paid the billboard company to post these and they refused.

    What’s the full story? Any links?

  2. Eric says

    Actually, before reading the post I thought the soldier in the photo might be dead. Maybe it’s because I expect anything depicting the military to be anti-war these days.

  3. Thursday Bram says

    Opton had paid the billboard company to display her artwork. It was at essentially the last minute that the billboard company changed its mind.

    And all of the soldiers depicted are alive, though it’s interesting that so many people make the assumption that they’re not — based usually on the fact that they’re laying down.