Wedding Couple Demands a Refund After Their Photographer Expresses Support for Black Lives Matter on Instagram

Wedding Couple Demands a Refund After Their Photographer Expresses Support for Black Lives Matter on Instagram

A wedding photographer has received a demand for a refund from a couple after she posted her support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media. The couple claimed that they would be too embarrassed to have her photograph their big day.

According to Insider, Cincinnati-based photographer Shakira Rochelle had taken a deposit to shoot the wedding of a couple (who remain anonymous). After making a post to Instagram expressing her support of the Black Lives Matter movement, she received a message from the bride stating that they would be "embarrassed" to have her at the ceremony and now wanted a refund.

The text message explained that the couple could not “support anyone who is outspoken on matters that simply do not concern them, as well as someone that does not believe that ALL lives matter.”

Rochelle replied explaining that she would not return the nonrefundable deposit and implied that the money would be donated to a Black Lives Matter organization. She told reporters that she later gave $160 to the NAACP.

In response, Rochelle was informed that the couple’s attorney would be in touch, though given that there was a written contract, it seems unlikely that legal proceedings will go ahead.

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I also saw several cases where clients were trying to get refunds because their photographer didn't publicly express support for BLM.

Crazy people gonna be crazy.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Interesting how it's a huge no no to discriminate against customers or clients based on looks, gender, or beliefs. At the same time it seems like clients and customers are somehow entitled to discriminate against business owners and entrepreneurs based on those same metrics.

Alex Reiff's picture

There's a reason for that. If you move into an area and every business refuses to serve you, it becomes pretty difficult to survive. Laws against discriminating against customers put a hard stop on that happening.

On the other side of it, you don't have a fundamental right to a successful business, and businesses failing is an inseperable part of free market capitalism. So is customers deciding which businesses they support for any reason, even if it's a bad one.

Deleted Account's picture

A bonafide Karen is calling someone unstable because she disagrees with their completely mundane post standing in solidarity with a movement. No irony here.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

She could actually sue them.

Deleted Account's picture

For what? She already has their deposit. Being unfamiliar with wedding photography contracts, is there typically a clause about canceling?

Benoit Pigeon's picture

You decide for what. They want their money back for her having an opinion on something unrelated to her work or the contract.

Deleted Account's picture

Foolishness isn't a crime. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Benoit Pigeon's picture

What's foolish?

Deleted Account's picture

foolish adj. (of a person or action) lacking good sense or judgment; unwise.

J R's picture

It’s a photography business. Political messaging will disenfranchise many of your potential customers, however worthy or otherwise your political message. Focus (no pun intended) on the services you offer, leave the zeitgeist off the business card.

Deleted Account's picture

While social media functions as a business card, it isn't strictly that. Sure, political statements are always a double edged sword and I'm sure she realized that when she posted it - but this is entirely different than scaring away *potential* customers.

Indy Thomas's picture

Scaring away people you don't want to work with sounds like a win-win.

J R's picture

If scaring away people you don’t want to work with is a “win win”, then what is the point of this article? The person they don’t want to work with, isn’t...

Indy Thomas's picture

I am replying to your post that says your political views will "disenfranchise" potential customers. I presume you mean it will turn off some customers as the definition of disenfranchise means to deprive of rights. Exercising my rights of speech does not deny anybody their rights.

The photographer posted their opinion most likely knowing it would annoy some people. For many, they would prefer to blow off those people they do not wish to work with. For some the principle beats groveling around and working for jerks whatever their political, religious or dietary views may be.
If I worked for a company I would absolutely hew to their guidelines as I have a contract of employment that insists I do precisely that in exchange for money. For myself, I make the rules and I live with the consequences of that.
I had people criticize me on FB several years ago when they found out I photographed same sex weddings in addition to opposite sex ones. I decided that I will live my life and run my business on my terms. Others can make their decisions.

Reginald Walton's picture

Black Lives Matter (TOO) is what that means.

Deleted Account's picture

Agreed! The people who hijack the message really p*ss me off!

Dieter B's picture

Not the victims of black on black homicide, they are ignored and forgotten. That is the tragedy. That is the hypocrisy.

Karim Hosein's picture

Why do people who talk about Black on Black crime, NEVER talk about White on White crime? Look at the stats; they are about the same! But White on White stats just do not feed the narrative, so….

Everyone who ever said, “look at Black on Black crime,” falls into one of two camps; ① they are grasping at straws to justify their racism, or ② they made the mistake of believing the narrative of the racists.


Deleted Account's picture

Everyone who writes, "Everyone who..." well, never mind. That thinking is no different than any other prejudice. Don't fall for it. People do good things and bad things but you can't know why, in either case.

Dieter B's picture

A non sequitur AND a false dilemma fallacy! You know the claim is true about black on black crime, so you change the subject then give two rubbish conclusions. Nice try, do better.

Karim Hosein's picture

And you either know, or care not to even bother with the stats on White on White crime. It is found in the exact same database, so it is not that hard to look at it. IF one really looked for oneself on the stats for BoB crime, one will CLEARLY see the stats on WoW crime, so their is no excuse! If one heard the stats on BoB crime, but never heard the stats on WoW crime, it is because it did not fit the narrative of the source.

Ergo, one of two camps; Either wilfully ignored the truth, or believed the narrative without doing their own homework.

Dieter B's picture

You keep changing the subject. FACT : BLM riots have destroyed more black innocent lives in the last month than white police officers have in a decade. Now ... jog on,

Karim Hosein's picture

So when you get corrected on one deceit, you jump to another, but NEVER address the initial issue. I never changed the subject. YOU DID!

The subject was that BLM does NOT mean, “Only BLM,” but, “BLM too.” You changed it to BoB crimes, as if that were relevant to what is meant by BLM, and I pointed out the fallacy of that , and the fact that WoW crime statistics are just as bad. Then you brought up riots.

YOU keep changing the subject, to hide your fallacies, and now, upon the red herring, you build a straw-man claiming I am the one changing the subject.

Goodbye to you, too. Second person I am dropping from conversations for lying about me.

Steven Weinberg's picture

Cancel culture works both ways.

microteck's picture

I'm so tired of political crap on a website that supposed to be on photography. It's the customer's right to cancel the photographer. If the customer doesn't like your stance on matters and you don't like their stance on matters why doesn't the photographer just follow the details on the contract and move on. Now let's talk about techniques, cameras and lens.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Don't take deposits...
Charge "Retainer Fees."

Deposits can be legally required to be refunded when there are no services rendered. A Retainer Fee is chargeable as the client buys the an option as to whether they want you to turn up or not.

It's crazy I know, but this small change in wording protects us as pro photographers. (And writing "Non-refundable" offers no protection if it is about a deposit).

Deleted Account's picture

Wonder if she specified it was non-refundable - don't see this mentioned in the article either way

Blake Aghili's picture


Mutley Dastardly's picture

You hire a photographer for his/her skills - not about what he/she thinks about politics. Shakira - has the right on her own opinion - but it also sheds a light on how dangerous it is to post that kind of personal information on social media. It can do a lot of harm to your business! (i'm a-social for a reason). It did a lot of damage to the US as a nation. Foreign nations where able to interfere into your elections - the same happened with Brexit... Social media are poison.

Maybe they thought the photographer was going to use black&white for their wedding - he/she should get in touch with them and try to calm them down (ok - that's a mean suggestion - assure them that the color yellow will also be used - red and blue will be filtered away due to being political colors).

Let's end with something Louis De Funès said (a french comedian) - La politique tue le rire - Politics kill laughter.

Trevor Tebone's picture

To Summarise...
Shakira "I am apart of a tribal group with absolutistic ideologies".

Customers "Well I am part of a different tribal group with absolutistic ideologies. You shall not have my money"

Andy Day "I am outraged the person from the different tribal group responded in this way to Shakira and does not support our absolutistic ideology. They are clearly bad people I must write about this"

Commenter 1 "I am outraged that Andy Day continues to write one sided articles about his ideology, he is clearly a bad person"

Commenter 2 "I am outraged at Commenter 2 and that they don't support Andy and our shared ideology"

Commenter 3 "Can I read about cameras and photography?"

Deleted Account's picture

Tony Clark's picture

Good for Shikira for having her paperwork in order and not being bullied. I haven't used the term deposit in decades, it only gives a client an opportunity to cancel without compensating you for lost time and not being able to book another client that day. Although, I hope that the deposit was more than $160. More important is her expressing support for others struggle in our society.

William Nicholson's picture

Not going to get into a political debate with anyone here as to the phrase BLM. We all have the right to say what we what and express our beliefs no matter if it is on a social platform or a conversation with others. However, many people have lost their jobs or customers due to their individual political stance and beliefs. What I am saying as a business owner is to walk on a very thing line on ice and be prepared to have upset customers if you post or speak your opinions that are different than theirs. Be prepared to have customers disagree with your personal political views as well as those who may upset your views. What is more important to you - MONEY or POLITICS????

She should return the deposit out of good faith even if it goes against her strong beliefs. Not willing to refund the small deposit will more than likely cost her more in the long run as those customers begin a negative social campaign against her.

Actions speak louder than words. Be careful of your actions, think before you speak.

David Pavlich's picture

I agree. We have the right to say just about anything, but words mean things and sometimes there are consequences when using the spoken word. As long as one knows that they have the right to speak, but not the right to be listened to or agreed with, then all is fine.

Karim Hosein's picture

By returning the money, she also has risks for her business. It is one thing to return money on good faith to a good customer because of a worthy cause, (bride's death, maybe), but a totally different thing when the client decides to cancel because they do not share the same opinion as you do. It is an invitation for every client to cancel any photographer at the last minute, because they found someone cheaper, or they finally met and realised that they were Latino, or whatever.

If you have a good reason for cancelling me, outside of any of the allowed reasons, and you want a refund, you better come with a better story than, “I do not like your socio-political stance.” I did not ask you before taking you as a client, and you certainly did not ask me, before taking me as a vendor.

If you did, I would have said, “I am not the photographer for you,” because that is a BIG RED FLAG! It does not matter even if we do have the same socio-political view; the fact that you need to know that before hiring me is enough for me to recommend the photographer which I hate the most.

William Nicholson's picture

Agreed. I am lost for words these days with everything going on, all the political B.S. and so forth. You make valid point that we are hired for talent not our political stance or to get into such discussion. Yes people will try to get out of contract because they found someone cheaper and that is all well in my book for they are going to get a lessor quality job than I would have provided. There is a reason why seasoned professionals charge what we charge, I believe it is called experience.

I just hope one day all of us will not have to walk on thin ice and zip a lip to make a living.

Blake Aghili's picture

One time I met with a couple to talk about their wedding and potentially sign a contract.
Groom was wearing a "NRA" hat.
I had an "ACLU" decal on my laptop.
Luckily neither of us liked the other one and didn't sign anything lol :D

paul aparycki's picture

typical american leeches . . . who are always looking to litigate and get a free ride.

there is a GOOD reason why america and it's denizens are sneered at worldwide . . . this is a shining example.

probably republicans . . . most likely conservatives, and laughingly the greatest (unknowing) argument for abortion . . . their mothers, or their mothers mothers should have been force to . . .

the world would be a better place.

Deleted Account's picture

What a hateful person you are. I hope you aren't raising children that way.

Deleted Account's picture

I get the disgust at their behavior, but the rest of what you wrote is even more extreme. Do you see yourself?

Dana Goldstein's picture

Have a business page that sticks to business. Have a personal page that sticks to personal.

Pierre Dasnoy's picture

That's a professionnal way of thinking. But her way also selects those you wouldn't want to share time with.
This story is also a great advert to those who support the BLM cause. Not too bad professionnally speaking.

Karim Hosein's picture

I agree, but, it does not always work. Besides, FB/IG do not believe in that.

Lawrence S's picture

That's a great and quick way to make yourself go viral. It takes about a minute to typ that down yourself, make a screenshot and share it. Or a friend.

Deleted Account's picture

Yeah dude not everyone is a sociopath

Lawrence S's picture

Hmm you really don't know what a sociopath is, now do you? Or how Internet 2020 works.

Deleted Account's picture

That comment is pretty you happen to know first hand?

Lawrence S's picture

Yes, I know first hand that you don't know what a sociopath is.

Pierre Dasnoy's picture

That's a good advert to those for whom black lives matter :)
And I don't think "you're not racist" is a valid reason to ask for a refund.
I guess the groom will be as white as the bride, both with pointy hats and a burning cross in the background.

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