Personal-Everyday Chaos

just to clarify- not shooting “ugly” people | indiana county, pa photographer | personal

By August 25, 2011 92 Comments

Hey all! So I’m a little shocked that I’m even writing this blog post and that it has gotten this big. Although I don’t feel its necessary to justify my action or my stance, I thought because I am not ashamed of what I did, I’d explain a few things that perhaps some of you may be missing. Incase you are wondering, this is in reference to how “I Won’t Photograph Ugly People” and the other blog post “ummmmm….Thank You!“.

I’m just going to jump into it……I realize there will probably be some grammatical/spelling errors so refer to my disclaimer on my home page. 🙂

How did I come across the page? I think this is a very valid question.  I’ve read some of the comments about me being a facebook stalker and how it’s kind of creepy that I was checking out my clients facebook pages….and I’m sorry if you feel that way, when in reality THIS is how I “stumbled” across the page. A former colleague of mine (whom I’m friends with on facebook and whom I trust) posted the following on their page. As a parent of a small child of my own, of course I am going to click on it!


THIS is how I found a PUBLIC page that was saying very mean, hateful, cruel comments and in-turn found 4 of my clients saying mean things. My intent is not to check out my clients personal pages nor do I have intentions of ‘screening’ them on facebook in the future, but as I said in my initial article…THIS was right in front of my face. How could I forget about it and then try to spend time with an individual trying to take pretty pictures when they did such ugly things and it went against everything I am trying to teach my daughter. That would make me a hypocrite wouldn’t it?

Which brings me to a completely other topic. The word UGLY. Some of you are saying that I myself am being a bully by calling them UGLY. I’m not sure if you were able to read the article in it’s entirety, but what I was referring to were their actions. People aren’t born mean, it’s something they are taught to do or that they do by CHOICE. They were making a choice to be mean and I was making a choice NOT to be part of it or to be part of my business. For those of you who say I should keep my personal beliefs out of my business because it makes me unprofessional. Then I will be unprofessional until the day my business fizzles. I sleep good at night.

I did this for publicity. Well heck, IF that is the case, then I guess I hit the jackpot! Not that this means much to you that already have your mind set, but this was not a publicity stunt. If you could take even a few minutes to look thru some of my personal posts on my blog, you will see that I was writing about my business decisions and my personal beliefs, my personal life, etc. just like I always have. I’m thinking that in this instance, just a few more people could relate! My original intent was not to go on an anti-bullying rally, but hey if that is the message that gets out there…is it THAT wrong. At least it got you talking about the subject, it opened up dialog for some people to talk with their children about it….is it really such a bad thing.

Do I regret my decision. NO. Not in the least bit.  We as photographers, are taught to build our brands so that we can attract the types of clients we WANT to shoot. Well, if individuals decide NOT to hire me based on my decision, well, they probably aren’t the type of client I wanted to attract anyway.

As with the parents that responded. I saw some articles that said that they apologized to me. That is untrue. Why would they apologize to me? They said thank you for bringing it to their attention and that they would deal with it at home. I think sometimes, people want to jump onto “they learn it from the parents” bandwagon, and I’m sure in some cases this is true, but in all honestly sometimes the parents may be unaware and if a million bystanders never SAY anything, how are the parents supposed to address the issue. You can call me a “tattle” but if it were MY child making those mean comments, I certainly would want someone to bring it to my attention so that I can address it. I’m not a counselor so my job was not to “talk to them during the shoot to find out WHY”, that is their parents role and I simply placed it in their hands all while not wanting my business to be part of it.

Why am I not releasing the names of the girls? Seriously…is this even a question? Call me a liar, call this a media stunt, call it whatever you want but I’m sorry you will not get the names. We live in such small towns here in Southwestern PA, don’t you think by releasing those names I would in-turn be releasing the media and internet onto them completely defeating the purpose. I mean, if I’m getting mean and hateful things said about me for STANDING UP for something I believe in, can you even imagine what would happen to these 4 girls? As much as I don’t LIKE what they did, I do have compassion and empathy and I would never do that to ANYONE.

I’m told I was being prejudice by my decision. The question was stated as if I was against anyone of different cultures, races, ethnicities, sexual orientation, etc, etc. I’m sorry but this is WAY out of context. If you are either of those and you are MEAN, I don’t want you to be associated with my business. I’m shocked that this turned into a prejudice issue. I think it just boils down to respect. I respect that there are individuals that have an opposing view, I expected that-it’s what makes the world go round. I also respected those individuals who stated WHY they didn’t agree with me and used their real names and commented in a mature way without calling names. Then on the other hand, there were those that didn’t agree with my decision but went about it under a fake name using profanity-well, I’m not sure anything has to be said about that!

Another criticism of mine has been that I deprived the four girls of having photos in their yearbook. I know now that this is different in different parts of the country/world, but I am not the contracted school photographer and I am in no way denying these girls their right to have a picture in the yearbook. I am not the yearbook gatekeeper. I am simply hired as a independent photographer to shoot lifestyle pictures of seniors to hand out for family and friends. I also would like to point out the fact that I’m not the only photographer in the area. In fact, there are some around here that are 100x better than me, so it’s not as if they don’t have access to having someone else take their picture.

PS: I saw several articles that said I’m a Philadelphia Photographer…..correction: I’m a Southwestern PA Photographer. Go Steelers!! 🙂


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  • julie says:

    Bravo, again! 🙂

  • Angela says:

    Well done, well said! You have been blessed with a kind heart, a great eye, strong convictions and a good head on your shoulders. Sleep well tonight!

  • Bert says:

    Anyone who doesn’t already ‘get it’ won’t. You and I do (and many others). The reason it got so big is because it’s so rare. Being polite used to be common. Shunning those who weren’t polite was how society policed politeness. Social sites make rudeness public, so publicly shunning someone who’s rude is how society should deal with it.

  • wendy says:

    Ok,one of the things that should be included in your business plan are your values and your moral stand point,this is what essentally makes your business you! For those who have never written a business plan,they might not know this.I.commend you for.standing by your beliefs.

  • jane says:

    personally, even if you had gone to the girls personal facebooks and found this posted on there, i think it would be a good lesson for them. Employers do it all the time, it’s time that kids learn what you put on the internet affects your real life too. It can be permanent damage.

  • Sally Watts says:

    “Yearbook gatekeeper”-this made me laugh, and think about Ghostbusters. 🙂

    I’m so glad you said what you did about “children learn it from their parents.” Sure, true sometimes, maybe even often, but we can’t go around thinking they have horrible parents every time a kid does something mean or stupid. Heck, can’t all of us go back and recall things we’d done that our parents *never* modelled nor condoned? Or-uh-is it just me? 🙂

    Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Kira =] says:

    I heard about your experience from the media hype, too. So sad you have to explain yourself even further. I can’t believe people just jumped on the bandwagon of disgust without even read the whole news article or your original post. It will blow over in a little bit and those that applaud your response will remember you and the dramas will move on to the next hype.

  • Shawna Sweeney says:

    I shared a link to your blogpost a few days ago…it came up that my kids would know to RUN if I ever caught them talking about someone on FB like that!

    I took your article as an opportunity to remind my boys (15 and almost 17) about how that is not tolerated here. (they were appalled that someone would do that!)

    I’m sorry about the negative comments you have mentioned…Please note that I think your stand was Fantastic and I applaud you for not tolerating bullying!!!

  • I always check my clients’ facebook pages, before I commit… I don’t want to work with “ugly” people, either.

  • Eileen says:

    Face it.. some people will never “get it” Those who do, support your decision 100%

  • Lilith says:

    I agreed with you before and now I agree with you even more. Keep up the good work!

  • Jenny says:

    It is a shame you had to even address these accusations, Jen. What you did was 100% right. You’re being a role model for your daughter and keeping your integrity in your heart.

    Good luck to you!

  • Julz says:

    I have to applaud you for checking into your potential customers especially “young adults” Its your work plastered ALL over their social network(s).. I would NOT want my name attached to theirs or Anyone Else’s name who behaves in that manner.. Karma will come their way one day.. I just pray in this day in age people would really realize this follows you for the rest of your life..

  • Laurie says:

    I am surprised that people harassed you about your own opinions posted on your own blog. I think maybe it’s true that people see what they want to see … even in the printed word.

    I, for one, applaud you for taking a stand and speaking up for the victim of this kind of bullying. I know I’m not alone in my stance on this. I’m sorry you had to even write this piece but understand that some people just didn’t get your point.

    Oh, I wasn’t stalking you. I found out about the original blog entry on FB. I think it was SPARK who posted a link to your blog. I confess, I reposted it on my page and then so did my friends. That’s not stalking … it’s the use of modern technology!

    Seriously, keep up the good work and know you are not one of the ugly people!

  • Ronica says:

    I agree, you shouldn’t have to justify your decision to anyone. It is your company and you make all the decisions about that company. A ton of businesses have signs saying “We have the right to refuse service to ANYONE”….and you have that same right……without justification! I would have done the same thing. I don’t think you did anything wrong! If more people acted the way you did, these kids would quit being so ugly….and I don’t just mean these particular girls, I mean all kids who feel the need to bully! I don’t understand why kids feel the need to pick on other kids, it only shows their own insecurities. if only they could see that then maybe they would stop!

  • Mandy says:

    You go girl. From working and getting to know you, I trust any decision you would make as doing the right thing. The negative response isn’t about what you may or may not have said, done, or thought. It is about their (innapropriate negative or stretched the truth or outright incorrect comments from people) insecurities and their issues that they have not dealt with and resolved appropriately. God Bless you.

  • anna says:

    I shouldn’t be surprised that this post was even warranted, but the ignorance of people continues to make me shake my head in disbelief. I’m nowhere near PA but stand with you 100% on this issue and know that your daughter will look back on this and be proud of her mother. And, really, that’s all that matters. You did the right thing, for the right reason. If that threatens people, perhaps they should look inside themselves and ask why.

  • Becky says:

    You go girl! ;0)

  • crafty says:

    You are beautiful.

    Thank you for being empowered to stand up to something you know is wrong.

    Stay strong and steady, there are more of us that applaud you, more than you will ever know.

    On aother note, the folks who are upset with you, they have something else going on. Let them have it and don’t waste your energy on them. Keep sending out that beautiful spirit and good vibes to our world.


  • Jen, at the end of the day, I applaud you for taking the stance that you did on the issue of bullying, you should be held up as an example of what people and business owners like urself SHOULD b doing vs turning a blind eye and letting it continue. The old saying ‘Bad things happen when good people do nothing’ really would have applied had nothing happened. Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that u should NOT have to apologise or have to explain really the reasons why you did what you did. This whole thing seems to have taken on a life if it’s own, a little sad really as what you should b all about is your photographs, not why you choose not to take them for a few bad seeds.

    I look forward to seeing more of our work in the future and will wait with interest 2 c where this goes. If something good comes out of this and one person maybe thinks twice about mirroring that kind of horrible behaviour, then all this was worth it!


  • Meghann says:

    I read the original story via a link from friends, including our photographer. As I said when I shared it with my friends, if we all do what we can we take a stand for those who need it most. You are a prime example of the type of people we need more of in this world and I wish you continued success in following your dreams. Thank you! 🙂

  • Brenda says:

    I applaud you for standing up for your beliefs. As a photographer and parent I understand every move you made and support it 100%. You as an independent photographer can make whatever decisions you want and thats one of the privileges you have. Your beliefs don’t change your work. Keep doing what you do!!! and keep your head held high! 😀

  • Laura says:

    OMG….Really! I can’t believe you are having to justify yourself. Yes people need to read ALL of the blogs, before they jump to their ridiculous accusations. I’ m sorry Jen. I believe in what you did. Keep strong. Quit reading the articles if you can. Sad there are so many UGLY people out there.

  • Sheena Hill says:

    I still contend you are amazing. I hope you continue to focus on the positive. I’ve always said, though, if you never do anything to make enemies in life, you aren’t living your life well. Those who stand up against what is truly wrong, will be reviled by those who are also wrong. It’s not anything to regret, but something to wear as a badge of honor.

  • YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME post. Especially the part about, “Go Steelers!!” (Sorry. LONG-time Steelers fan, not so much a Rothsbooger fan though.)

    Back to point. This writing is SPOT-ON! It is unfortunate that you have to write a blog post like this, but that is the way Life is most of the time. Always having to defend our actions and clarify to someone.

    I still 1000% support your decision and applaud you wildly for taking the stand that you have. Hopefully there will be A LOT learned from this experience for folks that read the various postings. Hopefully they will come straight to the horse’s mouth and not the neighbor’s donkey. 😉

    Way to Go Jen!!! Keep up the AWESOME work!

  • michele nieves says:

    there r too many stupid people,who need to get a life.jen should not have to explain herself and “spell” things out.its common sense but some people r just internet trolls & have to talk sh!t.aka diarrhea of the mouth.

  • Anne-Marie Suddreth says:

    You rock. I am a therapist with two young daughters of my own. I see bullying all the time and what shocks me most is how parents overlook their own kids’ behavior. Schools aren’t doing enough to prevent bullying, teachers often feel their hands are tied (that’s arguable)… it is up to as AS A SOCIETY, as a collection of parents and former children, to say “this is unacceptable.” Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  • Janice says:

    I strongly believe that you did not have to write this! Anyone who actually read your original post should have been able to appreciate your feelings and your actions. Once again, you have my support! Thank you!

  • Mary says:

    Honey, I love what you did and what you stand up for… But you nearly lost me with that Steelers cheer!
    Seriously, you did the right thing, and you handled it with integrity. Way to go. Hopefully those girls learned that not only was their behavior unacceptable, but what you put out there on the internet can come back to bite you in the end. I showed this to my own daughter for that very reason. (Thankfully she is very sensitive to the bullying issue, having been a victim herself).
    And btw… GO NY GIANTS. 😉

  • Jayne says:

    As a fellow photographer, I commend you on what you did and how you handled the entire situation! It’s a shame that you even had to address it again, but you have gracefully navigated the topic and hopefully this can be put behind you. As said by previous comments, if someone doesn’t understand the reasons behind your actions they never will. Best wishes for you & your business!

  • Brigette says:

    Still support you a million percent! The reason people question you is because society has become so self-absorbed that they don’t understand that someone would do something for pure principal instead of doing it for some gain. You shouldn’t have to justify standing up for your beliefs. You have the right to refuse service to any customer for any reason. It’s your business! Those people need to get a grip and take a lesson from you on how to be a good human being. Keep your chin up and carry on!

  • Jules from AZ says:

    I’m shocked too that you had to explain yourself after I thought you explained your position the first time. Heck, I knew what you meant by stumbling upon another site (based on a friend’s post) and your reference to word “ugly” – so what’s the big deal? What all of this comes down to is based on one’s perception to the situation at hand. And really, given the nature of how bullying has affected a large number of young kids these days, all you were doing was trying to stop the hatred from spreading into your world, which I completely applaud you for. I know your own kids will be always proud of you for doing this. Remember, we are not born to hate, we learn it.

  • Nancie says:

    I came across your blog and FB page by way of a story done on you by Yahoo. I have four grown kids and am aware of bully’ing and what it does to kids (and adults). I’ve followed a lot of blogs from their beginning through their growth and it’s amazing to me how critical the world is. This electronic age has created a whole different ‘bullying’ type. Adults now can be horribly cruel without ever showing their face or having to back up their words. The electronic age has extended the stupid highschool drama into adulthood. I hope you do not let judgemental people affect your morals, your business decisions, or you ongoing blog. Turn yourself into a human strainer. Take in all of it and let the junk fall through. Only keep the quality comments. There’s a lot of junk out there and a lot of ugly mean people. Anybody who would judge you on the decision you made have their own internal demons they are dealing with. I’ve learned that the most judgemental people are those who are doing things themselves they are judging others for. I commend you for your decision. I’m sorry for you that it’s gone viral because that then turns the attention to you personally and off of the root of what you were standing for. there will be lots of judgemental people out there who will say bad things but there are WAY more of us, who support you and your decision!! Way to go!!

  • stacey says:

    people are incredible and will make noise over anything. facebook is public and in reality is no different than them saying those things out loud in a crowded coffee shop other than they were in print and for all to see.
    that you should have to justify yourself i feel is ridiculous and i thank you again for standing up for your ethics. why would you release the names anyway? those kids know who they are and so do their peers – you are a great photographer not a tell-all like andrew morton.
    ignoring it doesn’t make it go away – it makes it worse. as they say, the best disinfectant is sunshine 🙂
    have a great day jen – i love seeing your beautiful work. those are lucky girls to have you capture their essence!!!

  • Cheri says:

    You know what they say (in the ironically named play,”Wicked”), “No good deed goes unpunished”. Be for good or ill, when in the public eye, there are those who hide behind their “comments” and live a life of mud-slinging. As wonderful social media sites can be for most us, they have become a (sometimes anonymous) forum for hate, criticism and vitriol. Glad you are thick skinned. I’ve found, in my 54 years on this earth, that the LEAST tolerant people are the ones always crying for tolerance. Glad you took a stand, possibly altering the poor direction of a few lives and hope you can get back to normal soon.

  • Jen, You are a woman of integrity and you should be proud of your stance. The world needs more people like you.

  • Dana says:

    You rock! You are a role model for many people young and old. Not much more can be said!

  • Kristine says:

    You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone! What you did was an awesome thing. I am the mother of 4 girls myself. One of my daughters was bullied and one of them was a bully. At home my girls are respectful and fun with adults, siblings and each other…but at school; one became shy and withdrawn (she has since come out of her shell and found her voice) and the other one became just a little bitch (at home the sweetest, dearest child ever! she has since became nicer now out of high school) I still have two daughters in school and who knows where they will be int he social circle, but as AN ADULT I respect your choice…as a fellow photographer I APPLAUD your choice!

  • Sonia says:

    Again…you have all the right in the world to do what you did. Hopefully you can change someone’s character by being straight forward and stand up for what you believe in. I know for a fact that I want and am teaching my daughter that being strong and standing up for her beliefs and to others that try to bring you down no matter what. I am 100% on your side…and it’s sad that you evene had to write this blog post to clairfy yourself.

  • Melissa Howington says:

    agreed that this wasn’t needed at all. The people with morals understand completely. It’s those without morals that feel the need to attack you.

  • Lauren says:

    Continue to keep youe head up and stand strong!! You did the right thing!! And yes, go steelers!!!

  • Brandi says:

    How can anyone look down on what you did? I just don’t understand people sometimes. This world is going down the toilet fast and it’s people like YOU that show me there is still HOPE! Keep doing what you’re doing! You have my support and so many more!!

  • Sonia says:

    Well said!!!!!!!

  • Kelley says:

    Even though there was no need for you to clarify, I’m glad that you did. Bullying is out of hand in this country, and the more publicity and attention we can bring to it, the better. That was not necessarily your job, of course, but it still needed to be done. This is a rare instance where those that bullied, paid the consequences. They weren’t severe, but they were enough.

    You also mentioned another interesting point: There is the assumption that parents are the cause of children bullying. That may be true in some instances, but clearly not in all. Some very likely are not even aware of the behavior. You did those parents a great service by informing them.

    Keep on being compassionate and empathetic. We need more people like you. All the best.


  • Leah says:

    You have a lot of support & a lot of courage. Ignore those that say different. I would definitely applaud you & if you lived in WI, I would have you take my daughter’s picture. I would highly recommend you to anyone & everyone. Again, thank you for taking a stand on bullying.

  • April says:

    There is no need for you to even explain your actions. As children, humans learn morals. Any human being knows that what you chose to do shows that you have good morals. Anyone who wants to argue, judge, or criticize your choice is lacking these morals themselves and maybe they need to take a long look in the mirror at themselves before they start pointing the fingers at you. I stand behind what you chose and I have never met you! Keep on keepin on girl, and you will be blessed for being a good moral person!

  • Suzy says:

    I like you, very much

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