The Worst Portrait Session Ever Goes Viral

As I am writing this, the worst portrait session of all time is being shared at an unbelievable rate. This. Can't. Be. Real. 

I've seen some bad portraits in my lifetime but nothing like this. These are so bad that they can't possibly be real, but the story that goes along with them is plausible. Pam Dave Zaring, who seems to be a normal wife and mother on Facebook, just posted a group of family photos. She writes: 

Ok. This is NOT a joke. We paid a photographer, who claimed to be a professional, $250 for a family photo shoot. Please see these FOR REAL photos she delivered to us....She said the shadows were really bad on the beautiful, clear, sunny day and that her professor never taught her to retouch photos. Feel free to share 😂😂😂 I literally have not laughed this hard in YEARS!!!!! You can't make this stuff up.....again, this is NOT a joke

She then proceeds to post the most incredible imagery I've ever seen. 

This post-processing is unimaginably bad, but at the same time, I wouldn't know how to recreate it. So the question is; is this someone who literally has no idea what they are doing or is this the work of a Photoshop expert purposefully creating the ultimate viral campaign? 

Reading the comment section of this shared gallery on Facebook is hilarious and Pam can be seen replying to many of the commentors. She sticks to her story that this is in fact not a joke and that she paid $250 for the session but waited months to actually get the shots. 

I can't believe this is real but Pam's story and comments certainly add to the believability and the hilarity of this photo series. What do you think? Real or fake? 

Lead image by slon_dot_pics, used under Creative Commons.

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Erick Erickson's picture

Nah, not buying it. If a professor never taught you how to retouch photos, why do you even have the software? And if you just have the basics, there's no way you look at that and think the client will like it better than the shadows. Also, wouldn't you know to not even pose them in the shadows? I'm not a professional and this is just basic stuff. I'd make a s***hole joke, but probably too soon on that one. But I highly doubt that is real and, if real, they got conned.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Conned maybe, but at least their internet famous now lol. Next thing you know they'll be on Ellen and the footage will be way better than this hahha

Lee Morris's picture

Would Ellen invite them if this is proven fake?

Gabrielle Colton's picture

I feel like she would, either way it's viral and it's hillarious and she'd still be able to make fun of them either way lol

Daniel Hull's picture

Of course Ellen would invite them if it's proven to be fake (which it is - go through the reviews on the actual photography page) and she will probably give her a lot of nice gear to help "jump start their career". *rolls eyes*

Tim R's picture

Beautiful and even skin tones.

Chris Lonsberry's picture

Real or not.. that's one of the creepiest things I've ever seen! I'm gonna have nightmares.

Actually, thinking about it further, maybe it's an artistic statement of the masks we wear even when surrounded by loved ones. Genius!

Jack Alexander's picture

I'm not convinced. We're all guilty of over-editing skin... Sometimes I'll retouch quite intensely and then zoom out to find I've gone way too far. But this is so far beyond the work of an amateur. They don't even look human. Regardless of the watermark, this has to be a stunt.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

These will never not make me smile, I wish good photography went viral as quick as these lol.

Spy Black's picture

I think just some drawing lessons would've helped with him understanding light and shadow a little better...

Henry Louey's picture

The net has worked out who taught the photographer how to retouch however. Here is Ground Zero

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Ha, that's awesome! "You have lost a lot of hair"

Justin Hadley's picture

Ummm...Can I have the photographer's contact info? I'd love some photos of my family like that. A perfect mother's day gift for my wife!

Anonymous's picture

My wife showed this to me when I got home. I immediately called BS and, following a solid week of shooting on location and thus finding myself in an exhausted stupor, I started on an epic quest to provide evidence. Like you, I actually dont actually know how to do this especially considering that the reasoning behind it was "harsh shadows". So I immediately looked up Lesa Hall and... nothing. No Facebook Photography page, no website, nothing. However, mashable said that Lesa's business is registered in Missouri thiugh I failed to find anything. Pam and her husband are insurance agents but their facebook page is private. Their insurance page, however, is not and had less than a hundred likes/follows on it when I first checked. The biggest giveaway for me though is that the photos are so terrible that it requires no photographic experience whatsoever to recognize that thise faces look like they were inspired by the Seinfeld episode where George was trying to get himself shopped out of his boss's photo. Nobody, much less a trained photographer, would release photos like this.

So I'm cutting myself off here because I have, in fact, found a webpage for a "Lisa Hall Photography" (with an I, not an E) who is based out of Missouri. Here's the web address for her facebook page:

Here's the address for her web site:

Im ashamed at howmuch time Ive spentlooking into this. Time to fire up some Nazi Zombies.

Lee Morris's picture

Well this photographer is actually good so it’s not her and Pam said it was a student. If you look through the comments on Facebook someone links to the photographers linked in page and Pam confirms it is the photographer

Ella Grace Bell's picture

Pam also said the photographer was close to 60 in a very early comment

Anonymous's picture

I'm just tired and trying to find out who's aiming to benefit from viral fame. I'll allow myself to stand as a cautionary tale for what happens when one tries internet sleuthing within the cramped confines of an iPhone screen.

Jeffrey Peterson's picture

Lee check this out.... Can you say SPOOF?

Ally Turner's picture

This account was created after the images went viral. It's not a real. Unfortunately the 60 year old lady that took this family's photos is and she has a LinkIn page, a website, and a business registered under that Watermark since 2011. Seems to check out. I don't know whether to laugh, or feel really sad for her. Hopefully she doesn't see a lot of what is being said

Lee Morris's picture

Lol love it

Ella Grace Bell's picture

I found a website for Lesa Hall earlier today that matches the watermark:

Ariel Martini's picture

thanks for that :D

Ariel Martini's picture


Ella Grace Bell's picture

You’re so welcome 😂

Alex Wolf's picture

No way this isn't set up. It's like the Borat of photography.

Ella Grace Bell's picture

Best description yet? I’m praying it’s real 😂

Ronald Aguinaldo's picture

Well those older photos really make this look legit. It shows consistency in her standard of photography as well as in photoshop. In a way, it's sad too if I am comprehending things correctly that she's like a senior citizen attempting to still have useful skills but not really grasping that she's rather out of her league.

Gabriel Gomez-Bush's picture

I did some research of my own thinking this was fake AF. Apparently there was a business called Imagery by Lesa Hall registered in 2011 (
I also found the linkedin page and other social accounts for Lesa although date confirmation on these can't be found so they would be easy to fake if this was staged. Then again it could have been a joint effort?

Jane Moreaux's picture

Not staged (unless it's a really, really long con). I found this linked from a facebook post in a group. The post was dated 2016. This is dated earlier. It took me about 30 seconds of sleuthing.

Jane Moreaux's picture

This is where I found it:

Also, that person's social media account has posts from 2010 and 2011 about being in school for photography.

I now feel terrible. Haha

Ally Turner's picture

That's not her. her name is LESA not Lisa. I did find her website and the photos on it match the watermark in the article. Jane Moreaux posted it in the above comments. It's a Wix website

Hank Castello's picture

Hate to see the wrong photographer slammed with this. I think the correct one is actually spelled "Lesa" and her LinkedIn page is:

Gabrielle Colton's picture

These are some of my first images where I actually tried editing skin with no professional training on how to do it. If I would have done this on family photos it would look pretty similar lolol.

Lee Morris's picture

Not everyone has the best first attempt

Michael DeStefano's picture

I feel like it would take longer and more effort to get this effect than properly retouch them. So in that way, I'm impressed with this.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Hahahaha it is impressive, her time paid off that's for sure ;)

Chad D's picture


buying into the idiots10 minutes of fame wish this blog was not following idiocy like this
hope the idiocy back fires sometime :)

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Idiocy or not, it's a viral photo session. How often does a family photo session go viral unless you're the Kardashians? Never.

Crystal Provencher's picture

Ahahahah I saw this floating around my feed tonight and real or not, I havent laughed like that in a long time. I was curious so I did try to look this photographer up and found her LinkedIn profile.. I'm just going to leave this here for anyone who wants to give it a read

Jeffrey Peterson's picture

You guys know this is a SPOOF basically making fun of professional photography... look at this FB page. Go ahead and "like" the page and have some fun....

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

What's even more hilarious are the review comments on the page. lol

stir photos's picture

Sooooo fake.... LOL

Martin Van Londen's picture

Nah.. you guys have it all wrong. This is art. This is like a new form of cubism. I mean just think about how long it took to redraw every single face in the photos.

Carlos Garcia's picture

Fake. If you look at the shadows on their necks and shirts, the light is exactly where it should be, at a 45 degree angle from their, sun on the right side of camera and shadows falling on the left side. This is fake and someone is looking for attention or mom is trying to make photographer look bad on social media. Either way, this is not real.

Dallas Dahms's picture

You people are making fun of those who suffer from "toonitus", which is a real condition suffered by real people.

Yogesh Dhakal's picture

somewhere in the comments .. somebody has tagged the photographer .. if you check her profile there is no hints of her being an idiot .. this is totally a publicity stunt ..

Willene Kirsten's picture

You know what I actually do buy it. I've seen something similar happen here in Namibia a few years ago and I knew that it was real then cause I knew the photographer and she continues to edit skin badly even to this date on Facebook pictures she uploads. She edits the faces with gaussian blur and over sharpens the eyes making the portraits alien like. A whole bunch of folks did this prior to learning the magic of frequency separation, but some of them just seem to never catch up.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

It's easier to believe in Santa than believing this is real.

Ally Turner's picture

I did a lot of research myself. She has a website,and a business name that was registered back in 2011. She has a LinkedIn page as well and she went to a community college photography course and is in her 60s. I think honestly her eyes are just really bad. If you look at the photos really really close their faces look pretty okay. Maybe zoomed out to her they are just blurry and she edits close up. I hope she doesn't use Facebook much because this is cyber bullying at its best. Does seem to be real though.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I'm actually disappointed that she didn't retouch the dogs' faces... Jokes aside I think is something planned, this "retouching" is too much consistent and in a weird way is too good to be the work of an oblivious photographer. Either way, true or not, made me laugh so I got that going for me which is nice.

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