Badass Of The Week: Photographer Refuses To Do Senior Portraits Of Bullies

As any of us who freelance or work for ourselves can attest, turning down a job calls for a good reason, a lot of consideration, and a very large pair of balls.

And that’s one of the many reasons why today’s badass of the week is so effing awesome. After discovering that several girls that she had booked for senior portraits were bullying other girls online, photographer Jen McKen — who owns her own company — sent a note to the girls and their parents letting them know that she would not be taking their pictures after all.

McKen posted about her decision on Facebook and also blogged about it, and has gotten tons of positive feedback and media coverage since. Here’s an excerpt of what she had to say on her blog:

Last night I posted on facebook the following: “If I’m wrong, please speak up. I came across a page on facebook that was created (by someone under a ficticious name) thats purpose is to bully,  ridicule and say mean and hurtful things about their class mates. While visiting the page, I found several teenage girls that have scheduled sessions with me for their senior pictures. I am emailing them tomorrow to cancel their shoots. I do not want them to represent my business and I am beside myself at how MEAN and CRUEL they were on that page.” As I was drafting the email that I was going to send out to the clients my phone was blowing up with comments.

Now I realize it’s going to be hard to know that every person that ever contacts me isn’t a bully, I understand that…but in this specific instance it was right in front of my face. I saw it with my own wasn’t hear say, it was right there..with their smiling face right beside such an ugly statement. I couldn’t forget about it, I mean how I could spend 2 hours with someone during our session trying to take beautiful photos of them knowing they could do such UGLY things. Realistically, I know by canceling their shoots it’s not going to make them “nicer people” but I refuse to let people like that represent my business.

She goes on to say that a few of the girls’ parents got back to her, apologizing and saying that they were horrified and would address the problem. Well played, McKen. Well played.

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    • wedding photographer charlotte


      In today’s life every one is free to choose their job.I am a photographer and I also refuses to do Senior Portraits Of Bullies……

    • Olivia

      The only thing that makes me sad is that this kind of action happens SO LITTLE that it makes this kind of news.
      Sidenote: My parents were poor as shit growing up- so they took me to a friend of ours wedding where they knew there would be a nice photographer, they told him that we were related to the family and wanted pictures- so the man took a bunch of me smiling and what not. My mom waited till the friend got her albums developed, and the friend was all like “gee I dont know why but there are a lot of nice photos of your daughter here” and mom acted confused but took them. And wah lah. Free senior pics.

      • Nilda

        Free to whom?

      • Geraldine

        Haha excellent plan! And free to everyone obv, the wedding photographer was paid regardless.

      • Gertie

        They weren’t free. They were paid for by the couple who hired the photographer. Luckily the photographer wasn’t accused of being a sexual predator for having a lot of pictures of a “random” teenage girl when he was hired to do a wedding shoot. No problem. Your parents were poor so it’s ok.

    • Reid

      I see a huge business opportunity to start a business that only takes pictures of bullies, meanies, and heathers.

    • Bobbie

      ROCK ON, Jen McKen! (And Charlotte, who posted above)

      If more people took a stance like this against the a-holes in life who think it’s acceptable to treat other people like crap, perhaps it would eventually render bullying as socially unacceptable as smoking has become.

      Yeah, yeah, I know — dream on….