A photographer faces a legal battle with her local child safety department after uploading a photo of her husband cradling their sick son in the shower.
Photographer Heather Whitten, the child’s mother, took the photo back in November 2014. At the time it was taken, her son was suffering from a high fever and diarrhea as a result of salmonella poisoning and was being comforted by his father in the shower.
The image first went viral early last year, racking up millions of views before being removed from Facebook multiple times over. Before its removal from the Internet, the photo caught the attention of an individual who filed a complaint with local authorities in Arizona, where the family is based. The Whittens claim police reassured them no charges would be filed, but the same could not be said for an investigator from the Department of Child Safety (DCS), who took a "strong and negative interest" in their case.
The only claim she was able to suggest be substantiated against me [and me alone] was that I neglected to supervise our children by allowing their images to be online and so put them at an unreasonable risk of harm. This goes against Arizona’s very definition of neglect and encroaches on my right as an artist to share my work with the public.
She now faces being convicted of neglect for posting the photo and, if she loses the court battle, will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years, marking the end of her ability to adopt, foster, or even work with children as a photographer. The photography community threw support behind Whitten by organizing a Change.org petition, which amassed over 25,000 supporters.
Fstoppers has reached out to Whitten for news on the court case, with the hearing having been held on February 3.