Earlier this week, the UK Government came under fire over a “crass” campaign photo. It shows a young ballet dancer and a caption reading: “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet). Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.” Atlanta-based photographer Krys Alex shot the original image, and she spoke up about the incident. She says that she was “devastated” when she found out how her photo was used, and that she would have never allowed it.
To remind you, choreographer and director Sir Matthew Bourne tweeted one this photo and wrote: “This has to be a joke? Right?” He started an avalanche of negative comments, and I think there was no artist or creator who wasn’t furious about this ad (myself included). It was later revealed that the photo was taken from Unsplash, and whoever made it didn’t even think of paying an artist, apparently.
Krys Alex has posted a video to her Instagram and spoke about the photo and the scandal in which it was involved. First of all, Krys revealed the dancer’s name: it’s not Fatima, it’s Desire’e. She and Krys met through the owner and director of the studio, Tasha Williams. In fact, Tasha is sitting back to back with Desire’e in the original shot.
The photographer says that she doesn’t know who “Fatima” is, but Desire’e is a young and talented dancer from Atlanta who has a dream of attending college to study dance. Tasha, whom Krys captured in the same photo, is also a dancer who has helped many young dancers pursue their careers in arts.
“I was shocked,” Krys replies to the question of how she felt about her photo going viral. She says that there were a lot of emails and messages when she woke up on Monday morning. “I really felt devastated,” she says. “I immediately thought about Desire’e and how her face was just plastered all over social media, internet, and different news article […] and she had no clue.”
The photographer adds that the whole situation really hurt her. Many people asked her if she had known about the campaign and if she had allowed for the photo to be used. “If I had known this was gonna be used in the way it was, I would have never agreed to it,” she says.
As I believe most of us agree, the coronavirus crisis has hit artists really hard. It’s sometimes hard to find work as is, and during the pandemic, it has become even harder. So, this campaign is like a cold shower for all of us. And I believe that most of us don’t want to do something other than what we’ve been investing all these years in.
At the moment of writing this article, the photo in question is no longer on Krys’ Unsplash profile.