Wedding Photographer Accused of Fat-Shaming After Over-Editing Engagement Photos

Wedding Photographer Accused of Fat-Shaming After Over-Editing Engagement Photos

Would you take the liberty to Photoshop an image so drastically that it offends your clients? That’s exactly what one wedding photographer did when they gave their client a “chin tuck.” 

After reaching out on Facebook for a wedding photographer and receiving roughly 20 responses, one couple is now regretting their decision to hire an Ohio-based wedding photographer that seems to be a bit Photoshop-happy. 

Apparently, the couple and photographer agreed upon two hours of wedding photography coverage and an additional engagement session for the amount of $600. Once the couple received the edited engagement photos, they noticed that the photographer had Photoshopped their bodies to appear thinner, commenting: “She actually Photoshopped one picture of us skinnier. She probably took like 30 pounds off each of us.”

Image via Independent.

While some may appreciate the photographer’s decision to edit the images so drastically, the bride-to-be and her fiancé did not. 

The couple then ran across a post made by the photographer on Facebook that only further upset them. 

While the couple may by definition be morbidly obese and they may have had some requests that were out of the norm for this photographer, perhaps better judgment in voicing her opinion online about her clients and their engagement session could have been exercised. She later went on to delete her Facebook rant and followed it up with this: 

The photographer disclosed to a local news station that she has apologized to the couple and refunded them, minus a $150 deposit. 

Do you feel that the photographer was inappropriate in dealing with this situation or that she "fat-shamed" her clients? Assuming you were hired for the same job, how would you have dealt with the challenges this photographer was faced with?

[via Independent]

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Dusty Wooddell is a professional photographer based in the Southwestern United States. Self-proclaimed thinker, opportunity seeker, picky eater, observer of things.

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Did I miss the part where the couple was like "hey you didn't need to do that, can you fix it?" Also the post by the photographer was made in a closed group for photographers... what were they doing there? To me it seems like they are going a little overboard. I feel bad for this photographer. With that said... those photoshop edits were pretty weird.

Yes, the woman in the wedding couple spent many many hours trolling FB and various local photography group pages looking for a fight (reason to use any excuse to either void her contract or make a big stink socially for what ever selfish reason). But the weekend warrior amateur wedding photographer handled the situation completely wrong in the first place. First, never photoshop a client without WRITTEN acknowledgement. Second, she should NEVER have sent the client out of focus images. This shows her complete lack of professionalism as well as her ineptness to use the tools she had.

Ugh. Don’t people realize that the internet is forever? In business, apologize, make the client happy. Calling out the client publicly was the worst thing she could have done. Maybe think about working on her posing and lighting skills to flatter the couple as much as possible without offending. In short, be a professional.

Totally agree, if you have to vent, call a close friend and move on. Dont cement your emotional words online lol

"In short, be a professional." Yep, and there's the hook. A professional photographer wouldn't "vent" about a bad client on social media like this.

Or just don't take the clients that you don't feel confident enough you can make look good in images with using massive PS techniques...

They could have been at the most luxious hotel with a nice sunset over a beach... If you can't make them look good, don't take the job.


Unless specifically asked by the client, (and approved on one image before continuing to others) ...NEVER retouch a photo in away that causes the subject / client to stop thinking "wow, I looked great on my wedding day!" etc. ...and instead start thinking "wow, they really photoshopped me!"

No matter how insecure or secure someone is, whether they're thin or "thick", ...nobody wants the first thing they think when they see an image to be, "wow, I was photoshopped like crazy". It doesn't matter how good you make them look, if the photoshop is obvious, it's going to be the only thing they see, for at least the first 30 seconds. And by then, the bad taste is in their mouth and it could be game over for the rest of the image set...

Even if you have a bigger client who mentions "can you photoshop me?", you should be discussing everything with them before you go nuts with the liquify brush. Talk to them during the shoot about posing, and show them photos on the back of the camera. Show them the un-edited proofs, and talk to them about concern areas. Then, if they say "yes, can you retouch my arm / chin / legs?" show them a subtle effect first, and ask if they're happy with that before going any further.

This photographer will hopefully learn a very important lesson, and hopefully the client won't have their body image seriously damaged by such an (un-intentional) insult.

[EDIT] OK, I just read the comments by the photographer more closely, and finally noticed they used the word "morbidly obese" in describing their clients.


I don't think the client would have noticed if she didn't see the original side by side with the edited shot.

I'm going to take the photographer's side here. The photographer wrote a negative post about this couple in a private group that was meant specifically for wedding photographers only after the clients were overly demanding and left her a negative review. She probably shouldn't have shown the pictures and she probably shouldn't have used the words "morbidly obese" to describe them, but it is a scientific, objective term.

I'm not sure the client has a right to be upset about the liquification on their images because the photographer didn't share these "over retouched" images without their permission. The photographer gave the client the option to choose either the edited shots or the original. I bet if the client hadn't seen them side by side, they wouldn't have noticed any editing at all.

I've shot weddings for 14 years now and I've liquified tons of body parts but nobody ever knows. And I only take the time to do it if the photos are going to print. To me, it seems like this photographer was going above and beyond to make the images look as good as she could and the client couldn't be satisfied.

What should have happened, if the client really wasn't happy, is they should have asked the photographer for their money back and the photographer should have given it to them and neither of them should have said anything publicly to anyone.

I don’t think the retouching itself is the crux of the problem. It’s the steps that happened after. We all have clients that we do not agree with. But rather than taking to social media (more on that in a second) the photog should have gone above and beyond to empathize with the couple and make it right, no matter whether she agreed with them, which to her credit, she did try to some extent.

As for the social media, we need to understand that there is no such thing as a “closed” group on the internet. What if someone in the group had weight issues and took the post personally, screenshot it, and found the clients? We need to be smart in this day and age. Make it as right as we can and move on. An internet group is still a public forum, even if it’s closed.

I think we agree. I've only had to do it a couple of times in my career, but when you get the vibe from a client that they will never be happy, give them their money back and forget about it.

Haha, the dogs thing would have scared me off. I can’t shoot dogs to save my life. Let alone 4.

Something's amiss. If it is a private Facebook group (I checked: it is) how did the client have access to the post?

Regardless, it's not the "fat shaming" or even the "venting" that the unprofessional aspect of this. It's sharing images of the two online and detailing you're displeasure that is unprofessional. Sure, complain about a client (it can be therapeutic!) but don't share images of them while complaining.

Everything else, including the photoshopping, is common enough procedure like you said.

Some nark in the group probably sent it to the couple.

The cutthroat, seedy underbelly of the Northeast Ohio Wedding Professionals Facebook group.

Sounds like a good Netflix documentary.

Probably a morbidly obese nark couldn't handle herself.

I love how you said was a "her" and not a "him". I got a good laugh out of that.

I am a LONG ways from in shape but I have noticed a number of really heavy wedding photographers and really wonder how they make in the summer heat in the south. With this trend of outdoor barn weddings, etc its rough and hell out there. I have seen a number of guests, bridesmaids faint and have often wondered how in the heck these photographers make it in the summer months.

Before I do any retouching, I sit down with the client and ask what would they like done in post. Usually, they know about that pimple, wrinkle, fold, etc. and I never have to feel awkward. The photographer should have just given them what they wanted and waited for them to say, "Could you slim us down a bit?".

When you're shooting weddings and you literally deliver thousands of images, if you allow your client to tell you how they want every shot edited you will never finish. I personally lean toward no post processing unless the images are going to print but this photographer tried to do heavy retouching before delivery. Everyone handles this a little different but I'm not sure you can be that upset with this photographer for trying.

No comment, I like the words, medically obese. That’s what my cardiologist told me. But really, what does that doctor know. Can you believe it! I told her when I weighed in at 319 lbs. I told my doctor I was not potty trained correctly. Her (doctor) eyes rolled, She suggested I get more involved in Photograhy and photo project and create more illusions. Now, that’s the kind of Doctor I love, please liquify me

My two cents:

It's probably a good general rule to assume that if you're going to put anything on the internet, even if it's a "private group," there should be some expectation that it can be seen by anyone. Also if you don't want to be accused of fat shaming, maybe using "morbidly obese" pejoratively isn't a good idea.

What I'm also interested to know is whether the photographer took charge of the situation? For example, why did she agree to shoot the couple in the back of a truck in direct sunlight? I wonder if she advised against this, or just went with it? A couple of people mentioned they feel bad for the photographer – I don't. Even though I'm new(er) to photography, one thing I've never done is leave location / set decisions strictly up to the clients. I'm curious as to whether the photographer even bothered looking for locations, setting up shoot times, advised her clients that things like 4 dogs and shooting in direct sunlight are horrible ideas for engagement photos. I'm sure the clients were plenty picky, but it also sounds like the photographer shares a fair amount of the responsibility for the failure.

Putting it in its context, yes it does make a difference and the target of using the term "morbidly" was not medical nor scientific...

Scientifically speaking yes. We will not argue that decimal 1+1 != 2

By the way, nice the thumb down :)

You bet!


To be fair to the photographer this does seem like one of those nightmare clients that you'd rather not have. Still it wasn't the smartest idea to write an emotional response like that on social media, even if it was a closed group. Seems like both parties could've acted a bit better.

Manage expectations and get it in writing.

To me it's that they are portraying the client in a less than flattering light (with their writing lol). It's unprofessional and can and has come back to bite them on the bum. There's ways to vent frustration and I daresay that the frustration is warranted, but writing your frustration on social media, even if it was a closed group, is too risky. Not saying that everyone has to follow the same approach, just seems like they could've avoided the trouble if they were a bit wiser. Hindsight is 20/20 though.

No, I mean the way they are talking about the client to others who don't know them in a forum where the clients can't defend themselves. The clients being obese is a separate issue however I would think that the clients unrealistic belief about the reality of how they look is the reason the photographer took to social media. It's the old 2 wrongs don't make a right adage.

Wowww very unprofessional and ignorannt. It's one thing to over edit but she then went crazy on social media, that's the biggest problem. She should have apologized and fixed the images instead of ruining her reputation and image as an artist..

Ok, She got caught saying things we have all said about Client’s. Bummer. Just don’t complain on the internet. That’s the key.

I wonder if there's any photographers that target morbidly obese fat people for weddings or portraits... Like that is their favorite clientele. Most of the time they don't like photos, but I've seen some that have such fun personalities.

Very interesting, now I know why I did War, and Event photography for 40 years. Although I did do a few weddings in my early years, I never shot people that were heavy set or not good looking. I had a Philosophy, good looking people made good/great images. Good looking people made me look good, if I did my job correctly. With that being said, I don't believe in minulapting my work. I shoot straight up and out. Get it right in the camera. As for the photographer posting on social media that's taboo, not good business. Sometime you just have to cut your loses and move on. Make the best of a bad situation, don't make it worse. If it were me I'd offer to reshoot the session, but not the wedding. Let's face it, it's digital all it cost you is some time and in the process you may save face and keep the client some what happy or as happy as people like that can be.
There again I've been retired for a couple of years now. Now I just shoot for a few of the camera companies and personal projects.


This happened in my market!

Stupid to publicly shame clients on top of stupidly not setting boundaries prior to accepting their business.

Never put anything on the net you don't want shown in public with your name on it later.

I faced the exactly opposite scenario before, client complain about me not liquidifying their photo, make them look fat, requested for refund. if you want your body to look good, find a personal trainer, not a photographer


Rookie mistake, I know cuz I was that rookie. It was a headshot for a local author. I ended up giving her a chin lift, face lift, face peel, braces, teeth whitening... The works! She never asked for it oh course and it made the 60 something woman to look like she's in her 30s. When I showed her the pictures, all she could say was "I guess I could use some plastic surgery" . I learned quickly that it was my vanity to PS my photos to make them look "better", I was not about my subject, there's the rub! It was my job to make my subject to great (not necessary beautiful) but when I PS them into someone they're not, I was no longer doing my job. I stick to primarily whitening their eyes now, and a LITTLE whitening of their teeth. That's it, I keep the chin flaps, the wrinkles warts and all.

Lol this is great.

So let me get this straight; photographer accepts their money in return for pictures. Don't we talk with our clients anymore? Didn't the photographer know there would be dogs? A truck? Didn't she know what time of day or at what location she was going to take her pictures?
I've had difficult clients: Complaining about perfectly good pictures, asking for the RAW-files, asking for extra retouching... We're not just there to trade pictures for money, we should educate our clients beforehand about what it is we will (and will not) do for them. We should ask them what they expect and be honest about what we deliver.

Those annoying clients weren't properly informed by me. That was my lesson. I apologised to them, asked them what they thought was wrong with the pictures (bride squinting in a lot of pictures - that's her face, she squints, I showed them on the family picture on their mantlepiece), explained why I don't deliver RAW-files (you only get my best work, we agreed on x amount of pics, you have 50 more already) and I only remove distractions, not moles, folds or rolls - unless you specifically ask me to - which in this case, I was happy to do for them.

We provide a service as well as a product. Our clients pay us for both. If you don't deliver, you basically prove them right that 'Uncle Bob' is as good a photographer as you are.

Did they tell her “can you make us obese again?”

I want to see a short film re-enactment of the shoot. The scene where the photographer is trying to get the couple's heads closer would be gold. Maybe two of the dogs in the background fighting over a duck they've just killed. The photographer with that strained smile on their face.

(I am on the board in question.) Just to clarify. 1. Someone from the board took the rant to the bride, then the bride went to the media. 2. The photographer is now receiving numerous threats, including physical harm. 3. The bride did not anticipate the (worldwide/viral) attention. THIS is a case of THREE wrongs don't make a right. Would I have handled this differently? Yes, absolutely. The takeaway from all of this, that a lot of people are missing, is that in an industry where we have very little protection as professionals, we are now under a larger blanket of mistrust. One of my biggest lines of defense is to stay consistent. It's the ONLY defense against an unhappy client. What you see BEFORE the session is what YOU are going to get during the session. And, I've also fallen to picking my battles. If a client would have expressed THAT much dissatisfaction, I would have simply refunded ALL of her money. Sometimes no amount of money is worth the social media lashing.

Pro tip: If you dislike people, it's probably best not to become a professional wedding or portrait photographer. Or to demonstrate your misanthropy on Facebook.

I understand the frustrations. But I believe the photographer over the client. That said, how the photographer handled it via social media was not smart or necessary. Clients are demanding and sometimes have unrealistic expectations on how the photos should look. Times like this, you need to stick to your guns and give them what you got instead of going out of your way to meet those unrealistic expectations. In the end, the effort goes unappreciated and no one will be happy with the results..

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