After the birth of my daughter, I booked an appointment with a photographer to take her newborn pictures. The photographer’s website was filled mostly with photos of white babies, but on her Facebook page there were also photos of ethnic babies as well. The photos all looked great so I didn’t think there was anything to be concerned about.
A week after the photo session, the photographer had uploaded four pictures from the photo shoot that she edited. I showed them to my family and my oldest sister had made a comment that my daughter’s skin looked really cool toned. I didn’t understand what she was talking about at first until a week later when the photographer uploaded all of the photos from the photo shoot onto her website for me to access. The majority of the photos had yet to be edited. Looking at them in comparison to the edited pictures I realized how much paler my daughter was. It was like the warmth of her skin color was taken out. My daughter’s skin looked like the vampire Edward Cullen in the movie Twilight. Even the white newborn babies on her website had more color and liveliness to them than my daughter did.
Later that evening I emailed the photographer and told her that I didn’t want the photos to be edited or filtered. My partner and I wanted my daughter to look natural and look like her authentic self so that we could remember her the way she was born. If there were to be any editing, I had only wanted the red markings on her body, that were left by her clothing, to be removed.
Weeks went by and I received my order in the mail. I was devastated, disappointed and upset all at the same time. The photographer didn’t listen to my request, and so I’m left with photos that don’t represent my daughter’s true image.
I’ve heard of racial biases photographers tend to have towards those who have darker skin. Choosing lighter skinned models over darker skinned, or lightening the skin color of a dark skinned model. A new movement has recently begun where unedited photos are being embraced. Companies like Aerie have begun to choose models of various sizes, shapes, color and ethnicity. Their photos unedited and unfiltered. The idea is to have models that their customers can relate to. To move away from body shaming and instead embracing how one truly looks. Unfortunately, not everyone is following the trend and who knows how long it’ll last. With the popularity of social media, editing and filters are still frequently used and plastic surgery has risen.
Luckily for me, I have digital copies of my daughter’s photos and will be re-editing them. Not only do I want to preserve her true image in the photos, but I would never want my daughter to be ashamed of her skin color nor her ethnicity.