I need to rant….

And since this is my blog, I get to do that from time to time. Weeks ago I got an email from a photographer, the subject line read ‘can you believe this’. She wrote a little of her own thoughts against the photographer and then directed to the Facebook thread where I found dozens upon dozens of comments ripping the photographer apart for a poor decision she had made with a newborn pose. Now I am not going to argue the validity of what was underneath what these photographers were saying. The pose was dangerous and we do want to always keep any and every client we photograph safe. I know that, you know that – so that point is moot.

What I was appalled by was the manner of harshness that these women showed toward this photographer. I could see it all. These women feeling it was their “duty” to correct this photographer while they safely hid behind their computer screens never having to see what effects their nasty, degrading and bitter words had. I also felt like I could see her… I could feel the shear panic as she realized why her picture had been posted, the fear as she read the first and second comments and the painful reality grip her as she scrolled further and further down to what I’m sure felt like endless torment and humiliation. Maybe this is because it’s how I would have reacted but I imagined her sobbing in her husbands arms as she felt everything she had slip away from her. And not because these women threatened to email her, “educate” her on her own business FB wall and even call Child Protective Services on her -no that wasn’t it – it was because they had destroyed what ever she had once believed she might be capable of. And it was as if they were laughing… Happy that they had done us all the favor by squashing this girl’s dream.

I read comment after comment ridiculing this girl and then a ray of sunlight as another photographer would ask that those voicing such strong opinions show some respect and sensitivity. But they would bite back ferociously, “their duty was to the baby” and with that they felt they had the right to behave as they did.

Why? Why do people excuse cruelty in the name of justice? How can people tolerate humiliation for the sake of “education”. I believe that there is always room for kindness, always. This world is so full of anger, revenge and maliciousness! Why do we feel it our right and our duty to add to the ugliness? I would bet that this photographer and every other who has been publicly humiliated like this has had an ugly seed of bitterness planted toward their fellow photographers as a result. I would also bet that if kindness had been shown instead that they would have walked away a better photographer and then turned and sought out opportunities to share with others.

We learned it before Kindergarden but apparently it needs to be reiterated… IF YOU CAN’T SAY ANYTHING NICE THEN DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. If you think you absolutely have to say it, CALL THEM ON THE PHONE so that you can hear their tears instead of hiding behind your screen and pretending that your doing the world a favor.  “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain–and most do.” — Dale Carnegie

It’s easy to complain, it takes no amount of intelligence to criticize and those who condemn have never been trustworthy in my book. Don’t do what is easy. Easy never was worth remembering. Instead do what takes more thought, more love, more wisdom and more compassion. Choose to make people feel better about themselves and you will ultimately make the world better from it.

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Congratulations to Adrienne who has won a spot in Brooke Snow’s upcoming Advanced Pro Online Photography Course!

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  1. Sandy says:

    Thank you for posting this, Leah. They are words that we all need to hear. It’s too easy for us to say harsh things when we don’t have to look the person in the eye and see how it affects them. When I make mistakes, I very much prefer someone to tell me in private, as I’m sure we all do. And I think very often when we realize what we’ve done, we already beat ourselves up well enough that we don’t need others to add their cruel words to it.

    • You are so right Sandy! I can guarantee that I am much more aware of every single fault that I have than anyone else is. We are always our toughest critics, we are always hardest on ourselves and yet to many people seem to think that that is only unique to them personally. It’s not, we all do it so we don’t need others being as harsh on ourselves as we are… If that’s all we get than who the heck is going to pick us back up???

  2. Alex says:

    ‘easy never was worth remembering’. I love that, Leah! What true words. I agree… yes, what happened wasn’t right… but that doesn’t give others a free-for-all to torture someone because they made a mistake (however large). It’s sad that people can be so cruel when given a reason to justify it.

  3. Sarah says:

    Well said! I fully agree!

  4. Wow. …and WOW! So sad for everyone involved. Thank you for posting about it. People definitely need to be more gentle in their judgements.

    • I completely agree! I can think up several poses that I did in the early days that were VERY STUPID on my part!! I don’t know if I would have been strong enough to come back from it if someone had posted one of my ‘bad ideas’ and given everyone a free for all to tear me apart.

  5. Raquel says:

    wow, I admire you for writing this. I agree wholeheartedly (did I spell that right). How very sad for that photographer, my face is bright thinking about how embarrassed I would feel if that happened to me.

    • Oh thank you Raquel but I think a lot of people were feeling the same way as me and trying to say something too! And I would have no idea if it was spelled right, lol! I know, I couldn’t help but think how I would have reacted if it were me. A lot of hot tears that’s for sure!

  6. Sherri Abrams says:

    I love this! and you are so right!…everybody is so quick to call me a faux tog and judge me… they have no idea that although I’m a strong person sometimes its hard not to take it personal. Some peoples children! i hope I always remember to be suportive and realize everyone started somewhere:)
    ps. unsafe baby posing is not cool. safety first!:)

  7. tamsen says:

    You have a heart of gold. Wonderful writing 🙂

  8. Morgan says:

    I cannot tell you how many people I saw pin this image (or one similar) on pinterest. Not because of the fact that they were appalled by it, but because they liked it. I think that is all is about education, and there are so many new photographers out there that are trying to push the envelope and that want to be as creative as the next person, that they are doing these poses. I like to believe that she didn’t know that it was unsafe. Obviously the parents and all the people on pinterest didn’t realize that it was unsafe either.
    I agree that they pose should’t have been done, but I also agree that people should have emailed her or called her to let her know, and the fact that they justified it in the name of the baby is disgusting. I think this industry is getting so competitive that people are almost looking for a way to tear others down. It is depressing. We should be helping each other to be the best that we can be, so that we can capture those wonderful moments and memories for our clients. Isn’t that why we do what we do?

    • Morgan says:

      I really should have read that before I hit submit. My spelling is horrible! 🙂

    • Well said Morgan and I (of all people) am not going to notice spelling errors. I would just assume that I had it wrong. 🙂

      I feel like we sell emotion, we believe in memories, happiness, love … kumbaya … Ok kidding on the last part but you know what I mean. THAT IS WHAT WE DO, I loose all trust in the authenticity of a photographer’s motives when they can be especially cruel and degrading the way I saw a few behave. Now I also want to be clear that sometimes we speak before we think (I am notorious for this in my house) and it’s even easier to do when you see no expression staring back at you. I’m sure there are several wonderful photographers who in the moment voiced their opinion and later wished they could have taken it back or softened it up later. We are all just trying to figure things out. We all mess up, we all wish we could take things back. The key is to TRY (but of course we’ll fail at it all the time!) to work to better then we were yesterday, every single day.

      • Morgan says:

        Good points Leah. I know that like everyone else that I have said things that I didn’t really mean or that came out more harsh than I meant them to. I think that is why facebook, texting, all all of that other stuff is so hard. Thanks for pointing that out, it gave me a different perspective. I guess that my hope in this whole situation is that everyone can learn from it, photographers, parents, and people offering their advice and opinions to others.

  9. danielle a says:

    I live in the sports world, it is life for my family as it is what my husband does, not just a game. I have to hear criticism and harsh words about players and coaches all of the time. But these people are my family, they are on the field fighting to win. I am taking their photos and I see the pain, the desire, the emotion. I posted this for the players but I think you could translate this into our field of work also. Everyone is a critic, it’s easy to do, but like you said, this poor woman probably realized her own mistake and criticized herself, she didn’t need a lynch mob to tear her down.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ” -Theodore Roosevelt

  10. Kathi says:

    Haven’t we all had those moments when we shake our heads and ask “What was I thinking???” Or the words that float out of our mouths that we wish we could suck back in before the sentence is even complete? Instead of throwing bricks we need to reach out our hands in compassion. And if ya can’t, don’t bash those that can!
    Way to rant, Leah!

  11. Kym Boswell says:

    Leah, I really hope the photographer sees this, and sees that there are photographers out there that want to help, guide, educate, and lift each other up. This can be a very cut throat industry, which in itself is terrifying, but to be treated so poorly by people in the industry you love can be very damaging.
    Photographer: If you are reading this remember: stick and stones may brake your bones, but words “from fools” will never hurt you.

    • You’re awesome Kym!

      The percentage of cut throats I hope is not the majority. Really and truly I have not met those people. I have however met hundreds of amazing people who are willing to share and give and help within our industry.

  12. Bobbet Little says:

    Awesome! You are so right.

  13. Jenika says:

    Thank you for posting this. Amen and amen. I have stopped going to forums entirely, not because they aren’t useful, but because I was tired of wading through ugliness to find the useful bits. We’re all insecure about our work in one way or another, and so some people find it a ‘pressure release’ to prove they are better than someone else. It helps no one.

    My guess is that deep down, a lot of those photographers were just bitter about all the newborn photography competition they have, and decided to shred someone they saw as ‘less professional’. It’s a kindergarten way of handling insecurity and competition. Thanks for the call-out post on this topic!

  14. Julie Wixom says:

    I just caught this post– I didn’t see the comments but sounds like they were vitriolic…. CPS? Really? What could she have possibly done to endanger a baby that much? Is it the shot with the baby chewing on the Xmas lights? I’ve seen that around on Pintrest…. it just floors me that people would get that crazy about a pose, it makes me intensely curious to see what pose the baby was in. I feel like I’ve done some risky looking poses which were in reality quite safe… what you can’t see makes a difference, and always having a spotter is key also. How do these critics know what was happening off camera? Again, I didn’t see the pose so maybe it was completely dangerous but it makes me wonder. I have a photo of my son at 3 months old and it looks like he’s hanging upside down by his toes but I just framed it right and flipped the photo around–he’s laying down on a bed– it’s really cute but I could see how it would look dangerous if they didn’t realize what I did….

    • You are so right. We don’t know what it happening on the other side of the camera and this is relevant in 2 ways. People are trying things that are dangerous because they don’t realize it’s a composite photo and second people may get ripped apart for something that was done with safety and manipulated post processing. This was a newborn in a glass bowl on the coffee table and the parents behind on the couch kissing.

  15. Stephanie says:

    How often we forget to think of what it is like to walk in one anothers shoes. I hope that the photographer in question gets enough positivity from other photog’s to keep going and never give up.

  16. Justine says:

    I see this kind of thing all over facebook and it’s really sad – on business pages and personal pages too – I’ve always been upset by it, even though it’s not been targeted at me. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who gets upset when I see the horrible things some people write!!! There is no justice in ripping that poor woman to shreds – you’re totally right, all it would have taken would be for one person to pick up the phone and explain why they thought that the picture wasn’t appropriate and she would have got the message – she doesn’t need dozens of people being nasty for her to learn that. Show a little kindness, people!

  17. Joy says:

    I also saw a thread that linked to a baby in a glass vase filled with gum. I did not comment on it, but I read a lot of it. The comments there were very harsh as well…but what made it worse was that the photographer (and her clients) lashed back, defending a very dangerous pose. I think what started out as gentle criticism became harsh and cold because of the inability of the original photographer to see the danger in it, and reassuring parents that there was nothing unsafe about it…which in turn caused the photographers to become more and more insistent that it was NOT safe. In this case, I believe there was true concern over the baby’s safety-gone awry.

    Anyway…I do agree with the point you are making, that we need to remember that there is someone behind that computer screen who feels the blow of all the mean comments directed at them. I am sure this photographer was embarrassed enough to have it pointed out to her that what she was doing was unsafe, let alone in front of her clients on a public forum, she probably didn’t need to have everyone jumping down her throat. I hope she was able to respond with poise and grace, and didn’t lash back.

    As a side note, I wish GMA or some major news station would do a story about composites, baby safety, etc, so that people could be more educated…

  18. Belinda says:

    The behavior of some “professionals” appalls me. Just appalls me.

  19. AMEN SISTER!! I think I know to which photo you are referring… I saw it, began reading the comments and had to stop. I couldn’t handle the negativity and I felt for whoever was under attack… I did not see a link to who took the photo either. 🙁 So sad. You said it perfectly in your post. You hit the nail on the head – probably a dozen times. 😉 {sigh}… sad.

  20. Marta Locklear says:

    It is about time someone said something. Those posts drive me crazy, and it is horrible at the high school level, or almost “stoning” level that it gets to. And those that make the original post, are not at all freed from the guilt. Just because their language is not “ugly” the intent is there. There are plenty of other ways to approach this situation with out a public slandering/stoning/mauling. Thank you for saying something!

    • I completely agree… It seems as though Facebook pages are popping up with the only intention being to lynch photographers. That is just so wrong!

      I also think it can make for this industry to look very ugly to newer photographers who are only just beginning to explore it. Which is so sad to me when there are photographers like you who give, share and encourage in so many amazing ways! Great seeing your comment!

  21. Beautiful Leah. Just beautiful. “Our actions are our prayers” – Charles Eisenstein.
    And our words too.

  22. katie o. says:

    The more commentary I read, the more disturbed I become. I see people bash other photographers, but they seem to forget (very quickly) that we all have to start somewhere. Sometimes as beginners, we don’t know the ropes and have to find our way…somehow. And yes, we will make mistakes. Why is it that people choose to attack instead of offering to help? Commentary like that makes me question the character of so many professional photographers out there.

    Reading your “rant” made me feel so much better. It’s a shame that more people don’t have this same mentality.
    Thank you Leah.

    • I’m so glad it helped Katie! It’s a really ugly problem but we can stop it if people start standing up and saying something. (Heck you all can just send them to this post) 🙂

  23. Angela says:

    Thank you Leah, I came across the same thing happening today on a photographers facebook page. Other photographers were questioning her safety and wrongly assuming she had used a glass vase. I remembered this article and it inspired me to contact her and give her my support. She also posted a link to this article which will hopefully educate those that were being unkind. Your blog has really made a difference, thank you.

    • THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking the time to tell me this Angela and I’m so excited to hear that you were inspired to take action and that she referred people to this post! You ever have one of those days?? Well today’s been a bit of a doozy. Just to much to do in not enough hours but this comment, well… It was really perfect timing and so incredibly wonderful and inspiring to get to read! 🙂

  24. Jessica says:

    I hate witch hunts and I hate “FB stonings” but some day soon a baby is going to die. One will be dropped from a “hanging bundle” shoot, one will be crushed, one will suffer a neck injury, one will be cut when an invisible hairline in a cheap glass vase suddenly shatters and a baby is severely cut.

    I will never be one to write the nasty comments in the threads, but our industry is in desperate need of regulation before a baby dies. Hollywood has it for child actors and models — even simple little commercial shoots are closely watched for safety because kids have been hurt or DIED. And in our industry, with the shots that are being done and the lack of proper training and education — a tragedy is coming. People don’t understand electricity, choking hazards, the fragility of necks, etc. It’s not about blame or forgiveness, it’s about education. And it is NEEDED IMMEDIATELY.

    I see no difference in putting a baby in a glass jar (and in one well-known instance the photographer freely admits that it was glass and not a photo composite) and leaving one in a car on a hot day for “just a second”. It’s not OK. Babies can’t speak out for themselves. They need advocates.

    • Jessica! You are so right. You are obviously very passionate about the subject as you SHOULD BE!! I would suggest writing an article on the subject! I would be happy to share it here and I’m sure many other blogs would as well. The best way to make a difference is through helpful – well intended – kind hearted, education! The “FB stoning” as you put it so well doesn’t educate… It humiliates and belittles and it reaches very few in contrast for example to what this and many other blogs reach. I would LOVE for you to email me an article for Go{4}Pro, hope to see an email soon! 🙂

      • Jessica says:

        You are too kind. I do not shoot these sorts of poses because they require more
        setting up and PS work than I care to do. I shoot simpler newborn poses and more lifestyle.
        Sadly, I don’t think I’d be a very good resource to your readers. That said, I would be
        happy to try to “set you up” with someone who is an expert. Thanks.

  25. christina says:

    I deeply standby the accounts that this was neglectful supervision on the photographers part for putting this young innocent baby in a risky & dangerous situation. Had she taken accountability and admitted that she has learned from this mistake, people would feel at ease that she wouldn’t do something so dangerous again. I would hope the industry as a whole WOULD highlight this situation before something bad happens.

    • Hey Christina,

      I think you were referred to this article by someone in regards to a particular image but this post is not in regards to that same image (or really any image at all, although one did start the thought process for me). I wrote this in regards to the manner in which people are choosing to handle situations where posing techniques are questionable. I whole heartedly agree with you, photographers absolutely do need to be educated and that is a very worthy endeavor!! What I am sickened by is the manner in which so many photographers are choosing to do so, it’s like an epidemic right now. Facebook-stoning does not make anything better, it hurts people, it makes those participating in the stoning appear in far less flattering light then they realize and it’s not supportive of growth. As I told another photographer in this thread… Educating the masses is so important, I would be happy to publish a post on this blog helping educate newer photographers on safety if you would like to write one (I’m ALL for that and I know many other pro-tog sites would be to)! What I will not support is vindictive and malicious activity where someone takes another photographer’s work, and throws it up on facebook so that everyone can have a free for all to solicite their opinions.

      We really are on the same page. What I’m trying to stress is that there is a better way to deliver the message and I’m sure you would agree with that! 🙂

  26. Erica says:

    This makes me have a tremendous amount of respect for you, not only as a professional, but also as a human being. I couldn’t agree with you more and had to comment to personally thank you for addressing this subject so eloquently. Thank you.

  27. Naesha says:

    I am so glad you wrote this! I have been hearing SO much negativity from photographers lately bashing other photographers for every reason they can think of. It makes me so sad! Thank you!

  28. Diane says:

    I 100% agree with you Erica! I couldn’t have said it better myself… Leah, thank you for putting yourself out there 🙂

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