I wrote a blog a month or two ago that talked about all the things I learned about being a “self employed” business owner. I was only roughly a few weeks into it when I posted the blog but I wrote about the Random Realities of Being Self Employed. It was more tongue in cheek really, I mean I talked about such things like how your boss is awesome (which is true..haha), about how you can sleep in, how you talk to yourself and answer your self because you have no co-workers to chat with. For those of you who don’t know, I recently quit my full time day job to pursue my dream of being a full time photographer. As exciting as it sounds that I’m following my dream and ultimately getting paid to do what I love, it also comes with a lot of accountability and responsibilities.I mean, I *AM* my own boss and if my business fails it’s *MY* fault, I can’t share the blame with a co-worker or a supervisor….it’s my fault.
With that said, I recently made a decision that I know could ultimately create backlash for what I’ve decided….and honestly, I don’t care! The really cool thing-(even among all the scary things of owning a business) is that you can make decisions without having to go through the hierarchy of people. On a whim yesterday after seeing something that was so appalling, I decided I was going to email some of my clients to tell them “I’m sorry but I won’t take your photos”.
Let me explain. Last night I posted on Facebook the following: “If I’m wrong, please speak up. I came across a page on Facebook that was created (by someone under a fictitious name) thats purpose is to bully, ridicule and say mean and hurtful things about their class mates. While visiting the page, I found several teenage girls that have scheduled sessions with me for their senior pictures. I am emailing them tomorrow to cancel their shoots. I do not want them to represent my business and I am beside myself at how MEAN and CRUEL they were on that page.” As I was drafting the email that I was going to send out to the clients my phone was blowing up with comments.
Now I realize it’s going to be hard to know that every person that ever contacts me isn’t a bully, I understand that…but in this specific instance it was right in front of my face. I saw it with my own eyes..it wasn’t hear say, it was right there..with their smiling face right beside such an ugly statement. I couldn’t forget about it, I mean how I could spend 2 hours with someone during our session trying to take beautiful photos of them knowing they could do such UGLY things. Realistically, I know by canceling their shoots it’s not going to make them “nicer people” but I refuse to let people like that represent my business.
This morning I sent out 4 emails to those clients while CC’ing in their parents explaining WHY I was canceling their shoots. I also included screen shots of the comments they made. They couldn’t deny it, I had the picture of what they said. I informed them that I’d be sending their deposits back and that they’d have to find another photographer. So far, I have received two emails back from their parents that claimed (I’m paraphrasing) they were shocked that this had happened. They apologized that their child acted in such a way and that they would deal with the matter. So far I haven’t received any backlash but I’m ready for it. I’m a small business owner and I have the luxury of making that decision. If you are ugly on the inside, I’m sorry but I won’t take your photos to make you look pretty on the outside!
I’m not going to give a big speech that says how wrong or uncool it is…because let’s face it, you are seniors you should know better. I’m not trying to save the world of bullies or trying to start a movement. I simply don’t want to photograph ugly people!
To all of you who commented or “liked” the status… It’s heart warming to know that you support my decision.
*** updated 8/25/11: For those of you reading this for the first time, here is a follow up blog post that may answer any questions you may have: https://jenmckenphoto.com/blog/2011/08/25/just-to-clarify-not-shooting-ugly-people-indiana-county-pa-photographer-personal/
*** updated 8/16/12: One year later, what I learned about going viral: https://jenmckenphoto.com/2012/08/what-i-learned-about-going-viral-jen-mcken-photographer/