Photographer mom shared a photo of her son and his father in a shower – and now she’s going to court

Jan 26, 2017

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 mom shared a photo of her son and his father in a shower – and now she’s going to court

Jan 26, 2017

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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Heather Whitten, a photographer and a mom, recently shared a photo of her husband taking care of their sick son. She captured the dad taking care of the boy in the shower. The photo caused millions of positive reactions all over the internet, but a single negative one was enough to send her to court. A single individual sent a complaint to local authorities in Arizona, resulting in Heather and her husband being investigated for neglect.

Heather and her husband Thomas have four children: Lillian (7), Leena (4), and twins Fox and Persephone (2). Fox was very sick when his dad got him into the shower, telling him everything wiould be okay and he would take care of him. Heather was overwhelmed with the scene and took a photo of them. Little Fox was later taken to hospital and diagnosed with salmonella poisoning. The photo has reached over 9 million people all over the world, and attracted a lot of attention – but obviously not only positive one.

Someone filed a claim against Heather, accusing her of neglect and child abuse. The police stated they weren’t going to take action and the case would be closed, but the investigator from DCS did her best to prove that Heather is “an immodest, neglectful and abusive mother”. She made her conclusions upon the fact that Heather breastfed one of her twins during the interview without covering herself or the child. And I can’t believe someone actually makes conclusions based on this.

Heather ran a GoFundMe page to raise money towards her civil case, and it was successfully funded. DCS closed their case in July, as they had no right of taking any action against Heather because of breastfeeding. However, this isn’t all.

Heather can be accused of neglecting to supervise her children by posting their images online and putting them at an unreasonable risk of harm. If this claim is substantiated, she will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years. This means she will no longer be able to foster or adopt children, or work with children or vulnerable adults throughout the whole country. This could harm Heather as an artist, as she wouldn’t be able to do her job as a photographer any longer.

Heather is a birth photographer, so her photos share intimate, personal and dare I say – pretty raw moments. She is also sharing a lot of photos from her and her family’s personal life, depicting parenthood with all its bright sides and challenges. All this means she takes and posts a lot of photos of children – and if the claim against her is substantiated, she may not be able to do it any longer.

An administrative hearing is being held on February 3, 2017. There is a petition on Change.org to support Heather and stop the neglect claims against her.

In my opinion, this claim is ridiculous. I am generally against posting photos of children publicly on the internet, because there really are all kinds of creeps out there. But there are many children, family and birth photographers, and they need to display their work. Also, Heather’s photo shares a vulnerable, intimate moment within one family. I don’t see anything wrong about it, and I certainly don’t see taking care of your child as an abuse and neglect.

What do you think? Does this deserve such a harsh punishment? Or do you think posting this photo really is neglect? Share your thoughts in the comments.

[via Hot Moms Club]

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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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67 responses to “Photographer mom shared a photo of her son and his father in a shower – and now she’s going to court”

  1. dracphelan Avatar
    dracphelan

    This is not the first time I’ve seen this kind of stupidity from courts and child protective services. I remember when parents would get a visit from the law because a prude at Walmart’s film developing noticed a photo of their infant in the bath or them in the bath with their infant child. Some people just have very sick and paranoid imaginations.

  2. Nikolay Abadjiev Avatar
    Nikolay Abadjiev

    Let me guess, USA? I’m really sorry for the normal folks who have to put up with these overzealous morons.

    1. Karen Padilla Avatar
      Karen Padilla

      As an American, I agree with you. This is a beautiful photo depicting a father’s love not anything else. What a horrible thing for her and her family to have to go through this. But it doesn’t surprise me it was Arizona which has it’s share of pompous so-called Christians who think nothing of trying to destroy someone’s life over nothing. We have them where I live too. You only have to look at what’s happening to us now and you will know how moronic these people are. They believe anything they are told even though all evidence proves what they’ve been told is a lie. We are in the hands of a maniac who is signing executives orders to take away every right we ever had and instead of calling him a dictator they call him president.

      1. Peggy Avatar
        Peggy

        I think that generalizing and lumping all Christians together is not only a disservice to individuals but also causes labels to become very apparent. Not all Christians believe, think or feel this way. I am sorry for the ones that do, it causes the rest of us to be found under a dark cloud of assumptions and preceptions. It makes me sad.

      2. Sean Avatar
        Sean

        Can we please stop the f**cking politics for one minute….thank you. This crap would have happened regardless and has in the past. DCS, while for the most part tries to do good, is full of overzealous public servants who feel they need to find boogy men where there are none. I’ve seen REAL abusive parents…personally KNOW one. What did DCS do? Oh, paid to have him and the kids flown back from NC to NYS. Put an article in the paper about what a poor guy he was trying to do the best he can. In the meantime, he’s cross-dressing, making the kids clean his feet, leaving them alone, doing drugs and living in squalor. Yet, DCS continued to shield him from any repercussions…instead they investigated the mother (divorced) for showing the kids a book on child birth…given to her by a nurse teaching birthing classes and how to deal with young siblings during pregnancy. Nothing came of it but it was totally humiliating. Eventually she managed to get full custody and he was out of the picture..but not before the damage was done. Good job DCS.

        1. ext237 Avatar
          ext237

          You want to stop the politics, try stopping the intolerance too. If the guy in your example did most of the stuff you mentioned, then yes he’s abusive. No need to single out cross-dressing (or anyone in the LGBT+ community) as automatic child abusers simply because of your personal belief against them.

          1. Sean Avatar
            Sean

            I’m not a liberal so I’m not intolerant. But hat does not mean I have to LIKE what you say no more then I care if you like what I say or have to be PC about it. So one ass wipe to another we agree on that.

            And if ALL you got out of that was that I was singling out someone one in the LGBT community you are even more ignorant then I thought and totally single focused. He was not part of the LGBT community or a real cross-dresser in the manner you are thinking, he was simply a pervert who like to put on women’s underwear and diddle himself. With NO consideration that the kids were around.

            As for my story…every bit of it is true and I could add a LOT more to it but think the point is made. Every time I’ve had dealing with DCS it’s been a disaster…even those times where I’ve filed complaints for REAL obvious abuse. Couple down the hall years ago would be SCREAMING at their kid all hours of the night, vulgar language and threats of physical harm…what did DSC do? Came ones, stayed for 5 mins and left. Nothing changed. Turned in a mother who was neglecting her kid (how I will not say but she was big time). DCS came, interviewed, saw there was a problem. Did nothing but “speak” to the mother. Yet, things like this in the article….they HAPPEN more often then you would think. I know people who work in the field and man, could I tell you stories.

          2. ext237 Avatar
            ext237

            Why are you pointing out that your not a liberal, you said you wanted to keep politics out of this. You seem really defensive. I’m not a liberal either, frankly. But is a person’s sexuality really a reason to take their children away? Also, not sure how you are able to differentiate someone that likes to wear women’s clothing compared to a “real” LGBT community member. Perhaps there is some inside LGBT info you know that the general public does not?

            Aside from all the other horrible things this guy apparently does, it’s still not clear why your so focused on his sexuality, and why his sexuality makes him an unfit parent in your opinion.

            If all the other things are true, then yea the guy has issues. But you started out saying he cross dresses, which apparently in your mind, disqualified him as a responsible parent. That kind of thinking is rather sad.

  3. PicITake Avatar
    PicITake

    Thanks:D

  4. Vahe Sargsyan Avatar
    Vahe Sargsyan

    Karen Padilla I missed the part that says the claimant is a Christian.. Nevertheless, the photo is beautiful, but in my opinion too personal and too intimate (in a spiritual sense) to be put online. There are thousands of people with thousands of perceptions of reality. As parents and as couples they achieved such a point, where they can capture moments of their lives in a way, that many others can’t possibly understand. Why let these others ruin your beautiful world?

    1. Sid Baksh Avatar
      Sid Baksh

      I agree with you. When you live among idiots and hypocrites, you do have to be extra careful.

  5. Lee Avatar
    Lee

    So true, in Canada it’s perfectly legal to breast feed in open public or for women to go topless for that matter.

    1. Sid Baksh Avatar
      Sid Baksh

      It is as well in Argentina and Brazil. It’s a shame that this family is having to go through this because of the idiots.

    2. Sean Avatar
      Sean

      Is in the U.S. as well.

  • Nina Claasen Avatar
    Nina Claasen

    25 years she won’t be able to take photos of kids and babies? That is harsh. Birth and storytelling photographers really do have it hard with social media.

  • Richard Favinger Jr Avatar
    Richard Favinger Jr

    Brain cells are quicly depleting in the US…

  • Bonnie Ratchford Avatar
    Bonnie Ratchford

    She captured a real moment with this photos and it’s beautiful! People need to stop being such prudes.

    1. Ruan Cowley Avatar
      Ruan Cowley

      I agree, but if you don’t know it is a father and his son and don’t know the context of the photo then you won’t see it as a real moment. Some photographers need to watch what they put on social media.Unfortunately the world is a sick place and a photo like this will land you in hot water. Doesn’t matter how you look at it.

      1. Elise Avatar
        Elise

        …if you see this photo in any other way then a parents love for their child then there is something wrong with your mindset…

      2. Vincent Avatar
        Vincent

        Don’t blame the photographer for the possible sick minds of others. She shouldn’t be the one who needs to watch herself. It’s like blaming a rape victim, because she wore a short skirt. You are barking up the wrong tree IMHO.

    2. Bonnie Ratchford Avatar
      Bonnie Ratchford

      I totally get what your saying. I think the problem is much larger than this photo though. North American culture in particular likes to think that nudity is this highly sexual thing and that any photo containing nudity must be about sexuality. In Poland culture it is completely normal to bathe with your children. If this photo was exactly the same but they were wearing swimsuits, people would view it as completely normal and ok. North Americans just need to stop viewing everything as sexual.

      1. Sid Baksh Avatar
        Sid Baksh

        Not sure if the word would be sexual, I think the correct work is stop viewing things with malice and hate.

  • Terry Newsome Avatar
    Terry Newsome

    My thoughts exactly

  • Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
    Gvido Mūrnieks

    I think we can collectively agree on ‘democratic euthanasia’ for claimants of this case.

  • Andrea Gruber Avatar
    Andrea Gruber

    What an absolut bullshit. The court should have rejected the claim. It is absolute bullshit.

    1. Theuns Verwoerd Avatar
      Theuns Verwoerd

      The courts did, and so did the police, and hopefully so will the administrative hearing. And then I’d like to see some legal action on the harassment of a person based on their legal, private, life.

  • Dave Ferringo Avatar
    Dave Ferringo

    Not sure how caring for a sick child could be considered neglect. It is crazy that this is even an issue. People need to worry about themselves and what is wrong in their own lives if then are offended by this photo.

    1. PicITake Avatar
      PicITake

      <3 This

    2. PicITake Avatar
      PicITake

      <3 This

  • Ginie Gm Avatar
    Ginie Gm

    it’s just pure life , and a real photography of a dad taking car of his sick little toddler

  • reginald Avatar
    reginald

    nazi america.. what else to expect?

    1. Sean Avatar
      Sean

      Sigh…asswipes abound.

      1. ext237 Avatar
        ext237

        Kettle, pot.

  • D.Sigrey Avatar
    D.Sigrey

    Where in this image do you get neglect? I’m even more disturbed that the child services idiot thought breast feeding without covering the child’s face is neglect.

  • Miguel Lopes Avatar
    Miguel Lopes

    Today is the day I unsubbed DIYPhotography… :P This is sooooo irrelevant….. Bye.

    1. Shelly Lloyd Avatar
      Shelly Lloyd
    2. Tom Jakob Brablec Avatar
      Tom Jakob Brablec

      A. No one cares.
      B. It’s absolutely relevant when it’s about photography, laws about photography, and educating people on how screwed the system is, when you can get sent to court for taking an image someone considers offensive.
      C. Good riddance.

  • Ginie Gm Avatar
    Ginie Gm

    title “the goog father” 1990 by Sally Mann her family (children and husband)
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/07/d8/4d/07d84dd3bdf7fa11bc3afdb13c859ba3.jpg

  • Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    Knowing a bit the american ways of thinking, I’m not surprised by this reaction, which was highly prédictive. I think that this kind of photo could have been exposed in a gallery (with a text explaining the context) with no problem…
    Unfortunately, so called “social medias” are places where the more stupid, sickest people and haters of any kinds feel free to attack those who do not think their way. The saddest part of this story is probably the fact that the court has been on the prude and haters side… :'(
    Not sure the Statue of Liberty still has it’s place where it is…

  • Sam Dickinson Avatar
    Sam Dickinson

    Seems like someone has a vendetta and trying to make her life as hard as possible. Hopefully the judge sees sense and just throws it straight out, and makes the claimant pay legal fees, plus extra damages.

  • Terrall Budge Avatar
    Terrall Budge

    And people wonder why the government is so disliked… Whatever happened to “sweet land of Liberty”? Ridiculous.

  • Alexander Müller Avatar
    Alexander Müller

    Mankind has fuckin bigger problems than this picture, get your shit together.

  • Leona Rose Avatar
    Leona Rose

    at that age i wouldn’t be happy with the father sitting naked in a shower … on his lap… innocent or not.. really pushing it a bit..you should not have to be naked to take care of a sick toddler…

    1. Patrick Mc Donnell Avatar
      Patrick Mc Donnell

      What is the reason for the American issue with nudity or minding your own business?

      1. Shonna Beaver Avatar
        Shonna Beaver

        The little guy is only two years old. The dad was taking care of him in the shower probably because he was so sick he kept getting his clothes and bedding soiled. Was the dad supposed to sit in the shower with him fully clothed??? I, personally, wouldn’t post such an intimate picture of my husband and child because I’m more private (and my husband would kill me) but I see absolutely nothing inappropriate about this. I see love in the purest form. It’s ridiculous to find fault with it.

    2. Carlise Azmitia Avatar
      Carlise Azmitia

      Baby was throwing up and probably had diarrhea from the salmonella poisoning non-stop…father goes into shower so baby can be constantly washed from the constant mess…being naked makes complete sense!

    3. Torgeir Nordtug Risberg Avatar
      Torgeir Nordtug Risberg

      You can’t even tell that they’re naked. Or are they merely “too naked”?

    4. Jessie Parkinson Avatar
      Jessie Parkinson

      I bet you take showers with clothes on…

  • Kathleen Herron Avatar
    Kathleen Herron

    This man loves his child enough to care for him when he is Sis, and you berate his wife for taking this picture? This picture exhibits love, which seems to be something we need more of these days!

  • Carlise Azmitia Avatar
    Carlise Azmitia

    Obviously no one reads the article! Father is caring for his baby who had salmonella poisoning. Has anyone seen someone sick with salmonella? It’s a scary, messy and life threatening sickness…my baby sister had it at 9 months old!! Nothing stayed in her, she was basically excreting from every open orefice! Read the article! Sheesh!

  • Chongo Yu Avatar
    Chongo Yu

    Love govt over reach where over regulation of parenting has come to this point.

  • Jameson Clifton Avatar
    Jameson Clifton

    It’s a very powerful moment between parent and child. If anything it’s the complete opposite of neglect. Granted, you need the caption but with that information you’d have to be mad to think anything other. Heather captured a beautiful moment of compassion and humanity.

  • Sylvain Duford Avatar
    Sylvain Duford

    It’s a sick society where shear violence on prime time tv is completely fine, but a loving picture like this can land you in jail.

  • Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    What a fucking cunt! This is obviously a caring family. Leave them the fuck alone! Some people are so pathetic. Apologies for my language, but this really infuriates me…???

  • Min Luo Avatar
    Min Luo

    Of course this claim is ridiculous.

  • Min Luo Avatar
    Min Luo

    Stop being plastic, Americans!

  • Dunja Đuđić Avatar
    Dunja Đuđić

    Tijana as a child and family photographer, what do you think?

  • Melvin Chicas Avatar
    Melvin Chicas

    It’s a beautiful photograph, people need to stop generalizing their own fears with the love and compassion of a father.

  • Kevin Armes Avatar
    Kevin Armes

    This level of bureaucratic stupidity really grinds my gears. And as for the breastfeeding then perhaps someone should give the claimant a common sense transplant. Start with this article which is one of my favourites. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bunmi-laditan/how-to-breastfeed-appropriately_b_5530806.html

  • Rich Mack Avatar
    Rich Mack

    Too bad it has to go to court. The good part is when the photographer wins the case (optimism here) it will set a precedent lawyers can use in future cases of this kind. One of the many things photographs try to do is tell a story, this one succeeds perfectly.

  • ext237 Avatar
    ext237

    I have a very similar picture of my wife and son in the same situation. Its not porn or neglect. I didn’t post mine on social media, not because I fear the court, but because I fear my wife.

  • Danny Madison Avatar
    Danny Madison

    *sees photographic proof of a child being cared for*

    *decides to charge the parents with child neglect*

    mmmmmkay (y)

  • Robin Avatar
    Robin

    And they all think they live in a country that promotes freedom, some even giving their life for it.

  • suruha Avatar
    suruha

    Each of my three children wanted nothing more, when they were sick, than to be held. I spent an entire night, once, walking up and down our hallway, as my little girl wouldn’t even let me sit down! She had an ear infection. As loving parents, we just want to take the child’s illness away, even if to our own bodies. For high fevers, removal of clothing, Tylenol, tepid baths/showers, and lots of love are precisely what pediatricians have told me to do, until I could bring the child in, the entire time I had little ones.
    Unfortunately, DCS is used by a lot of vindictive people, wasting their time and putting many innocent, loving parents questionable in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, sometimes they don’t get it! Here in Florida, some years back, a child was returned to his ‘suspect’ parents and they flushed his head in a toilet until he died.
    DCF has to follow up on all claims. But, c’mon! I think it is beautiful, especially that the father is in on the care of the child. Many times, taking care of the sick child falls to the mother alone. “Daddy needs to sleep so he can get up and go to work tomorrow!”
    I say DCS should butt out on this one!

  • suruha Avatar
    suruha

    Each of my three children wanted nothing more, when they were sick, than to be held. I spent an entire night, once, walking up and down our hallway, as my little girl wouldn’t even let me sit down! She had an ear infection. As loving parents, we just want to take the child’s illness away, even if to our own bodies. For high fevers, removal of clothing, Tylenol, tepid baths/showers, and lots of love are precisely what pediatricians have told me to do, until I could bring the child in, the entire time I had little ones.
    Unfortunately, DCS is called by a lot of vindictive people, wasting their time and putting many innocent, loving parents questionable in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, sometimes they don’t get it! Here in Florida, some years back, a child was returned to his ‘suspect’ parents. They flushed his head in a toilet until he died.
    DCF has to follow up on all claims. But, c’mon! I think this is beautiful, especially that the father is in on the care of the child. Many times, taking care of the sick child falls to the mother alone. “Daddy needs to sleep so he can get up and go to work tomorrow!”
    I say DCS should butt out on this one!

  • Joshua Boldt Avatar
    Joshua Boldt

    wow. has there been a follow up to this now that the Feb 3rd court date has passed?

  • Tasha Avatar
    Tasha

    Just a warning to anyone who shares this article on Facebook. I shared this post on my FB profile about a week ago which is set to Friends only, no one can see anything I post except my friends. I just received this message from Facebook in my Support inbox.

    NOTIFICATION
    Your share was removed for displaying nudity.

    Our message
    Today

    We removed one of your posts because it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards. We created our standards to help make Facebook a safe place for people to connect with the world around them. Please read the Facebook Community Standards to learn what kinds of posts are allowed on Facebook. If you think your post shouldn’t have been removed, you can reply to this message with more information and we’ll review the post again. If it doesn’t go against our Community Standards, we’ll restore it to Facebook.

    Photographer mom shared a photo of her son and his father in a shower – and now she’s going to court – DIY Photography Heather Whitten, a photographer and a mom, recently shared a photo of her husband taking care of their sick son. She captured the dad taking care of the boy in the shower. The photo caused millions of positive reactions all over the internet, but a single negative one was enough to send her to court… https://www.diyphotography.net/photographer-mom-shared-photo-son-father-shower-now-shes-going-court/

    I have responded to Facebook’s message and let them know that while there is subtle nudity, the photo was taken in a tasteful manner, it doesn’t display anything sexual and no genitalia can be seen. Heather Whitten, is a birth photographer and a mom. She shared this photo of her husband taking care of their sick son! She captured the dad taking care of and comforting their child in the shower. Nothing wrong with that at all and certainly does not violate Facebook Community Standards in any way. Heather’s photo shares a vulnerable, intimate moment within her family!!! There is absolutely nothing wrong with this photo and it does not go against Facebook’s Community Standards.