Discrimination in School Portraits: National Portrait Company Faces Backlash After Removing Children From Images

Discrimination in School Portraits: National Portrait Company Faces Backlash After Removing Children From Images

Tempest Photography, a renowned provider of school portraits across the UK, finds itself embroiled in controversy following allegations of excluding children with additional support needs (ASN) and those in wheelchairs from class group photos.

Reports emerged that Tempest Photography took two versions of a class group photo—one including all students and another intentionally excluding those with complex needs. This decision has sparked outrage and disbelief among parents, who feel their children have been unfairly marginalized and erased from a significant moment in their school journey.

The fallout from this incident has been palpable, with parents taking to social media to express their dismay and disappointment. One parent's heartfelt Facebook post encapsulated the sentiment shared by many. She writes: "This week, a photography company erased my child from a school class photo. Why? Was she not aesthetically pleasing enough? To say I am disgusted, devastated, and absolutely heartbroken is an understatement. My daughter is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL! Shame on anyone who believes that the erasure of ANY human being is in any way okay."

Tempest Photography has been in business trading across the United Kingdom for over 80 years and provides volume portrait photography services ranging from school portraits, graduation photography, and sports team images. In response to the backlash, Tempest Photography released a statement through the press, expressing regret for any distress caused and apologizing to the affected parents and children. They emphasized that such actions were not reflective of their standard procedures and committed to implementing changes to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

In the short time since this discrimination came to light, more parents have taken to social media to share incidents of Tempest Photography's practice which left them feeling that their children were treated differently, including one child who had skin retouching, another child with a sign impairment who was asked to remove her thick glasses to look prettier, and a child who was told to remove her ear defenders. It serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact photography can have on shaping perceptions and preserving memories, underscoring the importance of ensuring that every child is seen, valued, and celebrated in their school experiences.

A class portrait should be just that—a portrait of everyone in the class. This is not only a document for parents to look back on; the children in the portraits themselves will look back on their days at school and one of the ways in which we do this is by looking at school photographs. Removing class members erases people and experiences, and is an unfair and discriminatory practice.

Kim Simpson's picture

Kim Simpson is a photographer based in the West of Scotland. Her photographic practice is an exploration of the human experience, with a particular emphasis on themes of identity and belonging.

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What the actual? Why did any photographer think this was the right thing to do?

Big company stupid photographer.

"We deeply regret any upset this has caused..."
Why is it so hard for companies to make an actual apology instead of this equivocating non-apology garbage. I'd have much more respect for them if they would just provide an honest apology.

Totally agree.

They did apologize. Here's the full sentence. I'm not sure why you left off the other half.

They apologized that the parents and children were upset about this thing that happened to them. Wishy-washy passive language crap.

"We did a terrible thing to you that we regret. We apologize for doing this terrible thing to you."

I agree Jason. That is not an apology for their mistake. Only stupidest people fall for that sort of rubbish that politicians make in my language too. They should apologize for their inhuman behaviour. Does the law punish descrimination in America like they usually do in advanced countries?

The non-apology-apology is very common with large companies. I think most people are capable of seeing through it nowadays. I dont think their business will be too affected by this incident and they know it.

The non-apology-apology is rife amongst politicians. Often it's as good as "I'm apologising for getting caught out and an sorry if my behaviour offended anyone."

Did they schedule another photo shoot to correct the omissions?

The company shot two versions of the class portrait, one with all children included and another with ASN children removed.


This is dreadful and stupid political apology is not enough. Having grown up in a country with segregation I know how horrible descrimination is. Is it illegal to descriminate in America?

Illegal and unethical in the US but it still happens all over the world.