Photographer called out for fat-shaming after over-editing a couple’s photos and trashing them on Facebook

Jan 18, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Photographer called out for fat-shaming after over-editing a couple’s photos and trashing them on Facebook

Jan 18, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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The extent to which we retouch photos can sometimes end up in a huge misunderstanding. This is exactly what happened to an Ohio-based wedding photographer. She photographed a couple and made them noticeably thinner in Photoshop. This caused the bride to accuse the photographer of fat-shaming. But it’s not all: the photographer had her side of the story about the “difficult clients,” which she shared on Facebook. Her rant reached the clients and caused an even bigger mess.

As News 5 writes, the client Katie Liepold turned to Facebook to find a photographer for her wedding in May. She reportedly got about 20 responses, one of which offered an engagement shot along with covering the reception for $600. Liepold and her fiancé accepted the offer and scheduled the engagement session.

According to Liepold, the engagement session was going well, as the couple and photographer “laughed, talked, joked, and shared stories.” However, after receiving the images, she realized they weren’t what she was hoping to get. She tells News 5 that some of the photos were blurry and some were taken at weird angles. But one photo particularly caught her attention. When she compared the photoshopped photo to the original, she realized that the photographer “took like 30 pounds” of both her Liepold and her fiancé. You can see in the side by side comparison that the couple was indeed made to look thinner:

Image: screenshot from News 5

When she noticed this, Liepold immediately contacted the photographer. She said that this kind of editing “wasn’t asked for” and she felt hurt because “her pictures weren’t good enough to be left alone.” The photographer responded to the complaints, saying that they can cancel the contract. Reportedly, she refunded Liepold but kept the $150 deposit because she spent two hours taking their photos.

However, the story goes on. A few days after the complaint, the photographer posted a rant on Facebook. Reportedly, it was in a private group for photographers, but it somehow got to Liepold and made her even more upset. In the post, the photographer told her side of the story, but she was pretty harsh, to be honest. Her Facebook rant has been deleted since, but here’s what it read:

And people wonder why I scaled back on my photography business. Last week I did an engagement session for  morbidly obese couple. Just from the way they were “picky” about certain things during the session I knew they were going to be a PITA. First of all, their 4 unruly dogs had to be in the pick next to a lake of course which of course had ducks. Ugh. Then their truck had to be in the pics. Of course it was parked in the direct sun because there was no shade anywhere to be found. It had DISASTER written all over it.

She “loved” the preview then picked apart the images once she got them. Even though the contract says they get delivered on a disc she then asked for a jump drive. No problem.

I simply sent her a message and offered to void the contract or the wedding since she only liked “25%” of the 110images I delivered. I told her I just wanted her to be happy with her wedding images. Problem solved? Um no. I forgot to remove the grass and the mudstains from his pants. And of course, they didn’t like the lighting in the truck pics even though I told them they were squinting.

I wish whomever ends up with these two good luck. It is extremely difficult to get Pinterest worthy lovey dovey pics when people can’t even get their heads close to each other.

First pic she was upset I gave her a chin tuck. Second pic was as close as their heads can get without straining.

Oh yeh… She left me a s 2 start review because I wouldn’t refund their $150 for a 2 hour session. I’d rather have the bad review than deal with her any further.

Okay… Done bitching.

Along with the rant, the photographer also posted the photos she took of the couple. This caused a lot of people to react, telling her that it’s rude and that she should be ashamed of herself. Later on, she deleted the post and apologized. She explained that she was not trying to fat-shame the couple and that she never does that to anyone. What caused her frustration was “unrealistic expectations on their part.” She added that she is overweight as well, but in the case of the couple, the weight was the issue that “led to the difficulty in shooting the session and getting creative with posing.”

This case led me to a lot of thoughts, and I can’t clearly pick sides here. As for the couple, I understand their frustration and disappointment if they didn’t like the photos. I can also imagine what it feels like to see your photos overly-edited. It can make you feel as if you’re not good enough.

As for the photographer, I can understand her frustration if the couple were difficult to work with and too picky. But posting a rant on Facebook along with the photos… That can’t possibly end well. Even if you post in a closed group or you just for your list of friends, you never know. In situations like this, it’s always better to just call a friend and talk to them.

When it comes to over-editing the photos, I can’t either defend her or blame her. I believe she meant well and wanted to get the best results. But physical appearance is a tricky thing to edit. It would probably have been safer to talk to the clients and agree on the extent of editing in advance. Maybe it’s a sensitive topic to discuss, but I believe it’s safer than just make assumptions and then go through a fuss like this.

[via FStoppers, News 5; lead image: screenshot from News 5]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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45 responses to “Photographer called out for fat-shaming after over-editing a couple’s photos and trashing them on Facebook”

  1. J. Campbell Avatar
    J. Campbell

    The photographer SHOULD HAVE ASKED if they wanted that type of retouching done. It’s not that hard for her to have said “Would you guys like me to do any additional retouching for skin, etc?” If she didn’t, then it is ENTIRELY her own fault for overdoing it.

    1. Daniel Shortt Avatar
      Daniel Shortt

      That’s a touchy subject to bring up, Sometimes I have people say to me just “fix me” in Photoshop. Sometimes they don’t say anything, but I have had a bride ask me to retouch out a fair amount of weight from many of her photos. Essentially its a tough subject as you can “fat shame” someone by simply bringing it up. So you let them bring it up, and if not maybe you help them out in a few shots where it can make a difference, I’m yet to have someone complain. But it’s a tough line to walk and people have to understand you only want the best for them.

      1. J. Campbell Avatar
        J. Campbell

        That’s why you bring it up, delicately. Simply by asking, “Is there any type of retouching you want done to the images?” That’s it. Simple, no shaming, or anything. I ask ALL of my clients that.

        1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
          Motti Bembaron

          @J. Campbell, That’s right, that’s the way to do it.

      2. Motti Bembaron Avatar
        Motti Bembaron

        Right on! I think the photographer really meant well. We all know how hard it is to pose two really big people. Most classic poses do not work, and I am being nice here.

        It definitely does not help when the couple show up with bright color tops that really show their size.

  2. Michael Goolsby Avatar
    Michael Goolsby

    Never trash your clients. Not publicly, and not privately.

  3. George Starr Avatar
    George Starr

    You get all types of clients… Never assume anything…

  4. Liam Bluck Avatar
    Liam Bluck

    Gotta be America. Just has to be.

  5. Andras Oravecz Avatar
    Andras Oravecz

    Will this playing offended shit ever end? Like seriously

    1. Thomas Davies Avatar
      Thomas Davies

      I’m offended that you’re offended that they’re offended.

    2. Tom Connor Avatar
      Tom Connor

      It will just get worse and worse until offending someone is a criminal offence.

  6. Tejus Shah Avatar
    Tejus Shah

    is it just me or was that edit pretty crappy?

  7. Ren Lok Avatar
    Ren Lok

    1. Don’t trash the client. 2. Don’t do extra work you don’t have too. 3. If you do edit the photo give them both versions. 4. Set the clients expectations. $600 for engagement and reception… show them what you can do, and let them know, its not going to be as good as what they see on PINTEREST. if you want that Pinterest image, then hire that 2k-5k photographer!!

    1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
      Motti Bembaron

      Sorry, not even those will make them look like a Pinterest couple. And it’s not their size, there are plenty of big people that look great. When you show up wearing a bright teal polo shirt that really shows your size it says that you don’t care how you look like. Show up with a sport jacket and a button down shirt and you look ten times better regardless of weight.

  8. Samantha Martin Avatar
    Samantha Martin

    Moral of the story (which many people can’t grasp) is watch what you say on the internet.

    1. Ken Woodard Avatar
      Ken Woodard

      No, don’t watch what you say. Just because some people won’t like what you have to say doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to say it. People need to stop kowtowing to everyone’s feelings.

      1. Aankhen Avatar
        Aankhen

        Wise words. Let me try: shut up, Ken.

    2. Samantha Martin Avatar
      Samantha Martin

      If you are running your own business, you absolutely need to watch what you say.
      Even if you don’t own your business, you still need to be careful because it can come back to haunt you.

    3. Joel Wood Avatar
      Joel Wood

      Yes, watch you say in public, on the net, at the shoot, anytime when dealing with your profession. Always always always assume someone is listening or watching.

      The client is not your friend. Be courteous, be professional, be personable, and get all expectations and agreed to services in writing and signed before shooting.

      It’s not about hurting feelings, it’s not about freedom of speech. FB is not a private forum. The photographer is completely at fault in this case.

      If you can’t control your set, you’re in the wrong profession. and yes, the photos are crap.

  9. Daniel Shortt Avatar
    Daniel Shortt

    That’s a touchy subject to bring up, Sometimes I have people say to me just “fix me” in photoshop. Sometimes they don’t say anything, but I have had a bride ask me to retouch out a fair amount of weight from many of her photos. Essentially its a tough subject as you can “fat shame” someone by simply bringing it up. So you let them bring it up, and if not maybe you help them out in a few shots where it can make a difference, I’m yet to have someone complain.

    I think the real issue is the photos look like crap.

  10. Taylor Maduro Port Avatar
    Taylor Maduro Port

    1st problem charging $150 for a two hour session. You’re not going to attract good clients at that price point.

    2nd problem being a total dick… seriously if you’re gonna be an asshole you deserve all the shit you get.

  11. Christi Bushby Avatar
    Christi Bushby

    It’s simple.. You don’t edit people unless they request it. Just because the couple wanted quality photos, doesn’t mean you change their appearance. You edit the photo (lighting, color balance, etc.) if needed, but not the client, unless they ask you to. Period.

    1. Daniel Shortt Avatar
      Daniel Shortt

      So you leave in acne? How about smudged makeup? Or that bit of hair that poked up when it was windy, or do you wait for them to come back to you with a list of things they want fixed that doesn’t exist in your public work… Because you fix that stuff in post, no?
      So where to you draw the line? what if someone’s arm gets pressed up against their body and looks bigger than it is, is that ok to go in and liquefy and just bring it back down to how it actually looks or do I need to call them and get their permission?
      “hey so that photo you haven’t seen yet from your wedding, one of them your arm looks fat, can I photoshop it back to normal?”
      trust me, no one wants that phone call, and I’d suggest you need to work on your business and people skills if you did that, there is always going to be bit of unspoken expectations from client, they don’t expect you to do cgi, but a bit of a helping hand here and there is in my experience expected.

      1. Sean Avatar
        Sean

        You are fighting against your own arguement. Taking 30lbs off someones belly is NOT removing smudged makeup, pimples, or fixing an akward distortion. That’s RESHAPING someones body to fit your own perspective of what YOU think they should look like. Not what they REALLY look like. All the things you listed are temporary issues that would not normally show up on the person in real life so are acceptable to fix. Unless the couple planned on getting weight reduction surgery before the wedding it’s not ok to do it in the photo.

    2. Christi Bushby Avatar
      Christi Bushby

      I’m sorry, I guess I should be more clear. Cleaning up a pimple is one thing, changing someones body shape is another. Sorry I wasn’t specific enough for you.

  12. Nancy Woodard Avatar
    Nancy Woodard

    I like what the photographer did. He/she just smoothed out the lines a bit. Made it a more pleasing photo. They should be happy about it. But, they should have not ranted on facebook. Looks bad for business and is in poor taste.

    1. Brenda Lee Avatar
      Brenda Lee

      Take a look at the girl’s face. The photographer did a ratchet job on her chin. That isn’t what chins, fat or thin, look like.

    2. Nancy Woodard Avatar
      Nancy Woodard

      in defense of the photographer I am guessing they did that not because they wanted to shame them but rather to show the possibility of editing. They were given a number of photos and the couple focused on one and it seems to be what this post is also focusing on. OF course they could choose the ones they wanted. That one photo was offered in both the edited version and the original. I do not see what the couple is upset about they didn’t have to pay for them. I do agree that the photographer should have just wanted away and not posted anything. Their mistake. But everyone is entitled to an say what they feel, including me. Have a nice day :)

  13. Duncan Knifton Avatar
    Duncan Knifton

    what the photographer did was wrong…simple as that.
    Never air brush the clients weight unless ask for…even then I would do too much…

    1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
      Motti Bembaron

      I don not think she was not wrong doing that. What she should have done is send ONE retouched photo and ask if it is to their satisfaction. If the answer is a loud NO, then great, less work for her.

  14. Motti Bembaron Avatar
    Motti Bembaron

    I read the photographer’s post twice and although I would have not use some of harsh words she used, her explanation is articulate and clear.

    My question is, when and by whom this story got to channel 5? If you ever was in a situation of being blames for something publicly you know that just about any response can be self inflicting. It is hard to start explaining and many times our emotions take the best out of us.

    Bringing four dogs for the shoot? Want the truck to be include but complain about the harsh light? We all have to watch what we say on “social” sites but it seems the clients always have the benefit of the doubt.

    The photographer did not publicly shamed them, it seems the opposite is true.

    1. Sean Avatar
      Sean

      Aside for the rant, and yes, those are all problems. But a real pro would not rant about that and would have worked around it at the shoot. You should not be a pro photographer is you can’t handle difficult clients.

      1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
        Motti Bembaron

        “You should not be a pro photographer if you can’t handle difficult clients.”

        Quite a blanket statement :-)

        Difficult clients exist in every field. You can be a pro and still say and do things you might later regret, or not. I have been in those situations as a photographer and in other capacities. Do I recall times I over reacted and regretted it after? ABSOLUTELY. Pro or not, you learn as you go. Some things have to be learnt the hard way.

        The thing is, in my time we would rant about it with our colleagues back at the office. Today, it is so much easier to do so publicly with people you don’t even know and that goes for clients and vendors. That is almost always a mistake and we have to learn from it.

        In my opinion, when presenting her case to the forum members, she should have presented it as a question and ask others how should she handle it. This way it would have not looked like a rant and she would have gotten some good advice.

        Unfortunately, as she now knows, some forum members have no loyalties to other colleagues and had no problem leaking the rant to the clients. I am sure she knows now that forum are a bunch of people you don’t know and can’t blindly trust.

        I hope she does well and gets better in time. She might not be as good as others but I am sure that initially she had very good intentions when editing the photos.

        Cheers.

        1. Sean Avatar
          Sean

          Yes, sort of a blanket, but generally true. I’ve been in IT and doing photography for 30+ years. I’ve had to deal with my fair share of difficult clients and yes, ranted to colleagues (but not on a public forum for Christ sake). Never post something you don’t want the world to see or hear. That’s the golden rule. And agree that she probably did not mean to body-shame, but that does not excuse what she did at a professional level. Charging $600 for a engagement and reception shoot is ridiculously under bid and at that price you get not so great clients. I’d rather do one shoot at $2000 then 10 at $200 as they say. :)

          1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
            Motti Bembaron

            I also would much prefer a $2000 client then 10 $200 clients :-) in general they are better clients.

            Public ranting is a big mistake and almost certainly she learnt from it. It is alarming that it is so easy to destroy a small local business by interviewing to the local news. She did not deserve that.

  15. AsianReaper Avatar
    AsianReaper

    Pick your clients and avoid the bs . (as much as possible)

    Fat shaming ?

    Is the client ashamed of being fat ?

    If not perhaps she watches too much Oprah and thinks it’s ok to be lazy over eat and be a burden on herself and the healthcare system . But It’s ok I hear insurance pays for those Walmart fat carts now.

    1. Sean Avatar
      Sean

      I don’t think that it issue is the client is ashamed of being fat. They seem perfectly happy with the unretouched photo. What they have a problem with is the photographer assuming that they were uncomfortable being fat. Probably because the photographer, who admits she had a weight issue, is uncomfortable with her weight so assumes all heavy people are. Sigh.

  16. AsianReaper Avatar
    AsianReaper

    At he end of the day the lighting is shit and overdone they look like two hams in a microwave.

  17. Henry Rodgers Avatar
    Henry Rodgers

    Don’t liquify unless by request. The end.

  18. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    Shame on the photographer. You DON’T change the shape of someone’s body unless they ask for it. I retouch ONLY blemishes that would be temporary (pimples, cuts, etc). I won’t retouch scars, acne (might if it’s minor..won’t remove it but might tone it down a bit) or any other skin defects unless asked to. Learned my lesson on that looooong time ago when I was a newbie. Then ranting about it, in a closed group or not, is sooooo unprofessional. So the couple is obese. So what? Just means you need to be more creative and scrap the normal “thin people” poses. Just shows that the photographer is not a real pro. THe first clue was this: “offered an engagement shot along with covering the reception for $600. ” $600? You get what you pay for.

  19. istian Avatar
    istian

    This is why I never edit out things that make people who they are. Like size, birthmarks, body features, etc. Only do I touch up things that aren’t set in stone in life.. Temporary things like makeup blemishes, skin bumps/redness, etc.

    1. Daniel Shortt Avatar
      Daniel Shortt

      So when they come back to you and complain because they look fat what do you do then?

      1. istian Avatar
        istian

        I think people love an open and honest experience and love their image working with me. It translates into a feeling of comfort they’ll look good, regardless of how they think they look. If that makes sense. :)

  20. Timothyf7 Avatar
    Timothyf7

    Wonder if there would have been a problem if the photographer had not given them the un-edited shots?

  21. Biye Bazaar Avatar
    Biye Bazaar

    It is really frustrating to see that fat shaming exists in the twenty first century. We don’t live
    in the medieval ages. People seriously need to grow up.