Would You Photograph Ugly People?

Senior portrait photographer Jennifer McKendrick has been making quite a name for herself over the last few days. The Pennsylvania photographer recently refused to photograph a few of her clients because she caught them bullying other students on Facebook. Jennifer wrote on her website that she will not photograph any ugly people by saying "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!" An overwhelming amount of support for Jennifer's actions have been filling up the blogs and social media outlets so it made me think, would you cancel a photo session with someone who was "ugly on the inside"? I have to agree with the comment made at 2:40 in the video below....do people actually spend a great deal of time screening their clients on facebook?

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As a photographer, the main goal is to get to know your clients and produce work that shows their personality. Using Facebook to scope out your clients is a great way to see what type of person/personality you will be working with.

A quick glance through posts will give you big clues into that person.....so yes I have used Facebook to see what is what

I don't agree with her. I consider her job similar to a wedding photographer, and you get payed to shoot a group of people. You can't exclude people and do 90% of your job. I don't know how senior portrait photography is done there, but here in my country, yearbook design and printing is also done by the photographer. It's a packege deal. You can't make 90% of the work just because you don't like someone.

Jason Vinson's picture

in the US a lot of people have senior portraits taken in addition to what is done through the school. but the senior portraits are not tied to the school in any way. its basically just a standard photo shoot catered to seniors.

I appreciated how she handled her choice, as she described it on her blog post. If I was in her exact situation, I can see how I'd do the same. I articulate it in this manner, because it would have to be a matter of my stumbling across something, that detested me enough to follow my instinct of not wanting to work for someone. I usually gather that in the consultation. But I wouldn't go out of my way -on Facebook no less- to make a judgement or determination of how a person is. 

People use Facebook as a tool or a weapon, but not necessarily as a mirror. Pics or witty, goofy (or even insulting) posts may be fun to the user, but it's not a window to his soul. 

Did these kids behave stupidly, mean, cowardly by posting, what amounted, in Jennifer's eyes, to cyber-bullying? Sure. I believe Jennifer saw just that. And it's her prerogative to work with who she feels comfortable in working with. I agree with that too. But should photographer's do this as part of the job? My opinion: Absolutely not. 

Here's a sidebar, for what it's worth: I had an amazing conversation with a potential client for a wedding. I was referred on the strength of my work. I spoke to the bride; set up a meeting. One day before the consultation, the bride sent me an email that they decided to go elsewhere because "although my husband was aware already, that your last name was Gonzalez, when he saw your profile pic, he felt like you didn't look like a professional photographer, or like YOU actually took those pics on your FB." 

Ha! I thought this was going to be different. I don't shoot ugly people either outside or in. 

Motti Bembaron's picture

Good for her!

I shoot high school balls and have a similar philosophy. The kids that jump the queue, are rude or disrespectful to other students get a short sharp and usually unflattering session. The other 90% of the kids get the time and attention they deserve. Poetic Justice! Nigel - I shoot School Ball Photos - http://www.schoolballphotographer.co.nz/

Jmont's picture

The real tragedy here is how terrible that newscast was. Seriously we've resorted to just reading peoples facebook comments for news reporting.

"do people actually spend a great deal of time screening their clients on facebook?"  actually yes, they do, even more, here in ROMANIA when you will go to a job interview be sure that the HR already has checked your facebook profile to find out every thing about what kind of man are you.

I agree with her and would have done the same thing..as I think most would in similar or stronger situations!  How many people here would photograph Casey Anthony (yes I know that is to the extreme but similar principal IMHO)?

On another note...if you check out Jen's blog she explains that she actually was not stalking her client's she stumbled across the bullying via another FB page.  You can view her blog here: http://jenmckenphoto.com/blog/

Marcel I's picture

How can you tell it's actually bullying if you don't have the whole picture?
Also, why does this appear on the news?

It seems to be a great story, but you also need to be cautious.  Parents can call discrimination and discrimination has been a big issue with refusing service in recent years.  So just be thoughtful if you are sending people away and refusing service.

this video is private :|