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The Daughter Makes Silly Faces But The Mother Makes Ugly Ones

, , , , , | Right | March 30, 2020

(I am working at a retail portrait studio. I have a mother bringing her daughter in for modeling headshots. I explain to her ahead of her appointment that we do not do any editing or retouching, only cropping. She agrees that she can purchase the digital images to have them edited herself if she would like. As we start the session, the daughter, who is around eight or nine, is in the camera room with me and her mother is standing in the doorway glued to her phone.)

Me: “All right, sweetheart, let me see your model smile!”

(The daughter sticks out her tongue at me.)

Me: *laughs* “Cute, silly one for mommy. Let’s do a nice one now, big smile!”

(The daughter puts on an angry pout face. I try everything I can think of to get her to laugh or smile. She’ll pretend to agree to cooperate but will pull a mean face the second I go to take the picture, thinking it’s funny. I can’t even catch her laughing about it as she covers her face with her hands. Finally, after trying several times to signal her mom to ask for help, I put down my camera and go over to her.)

Me: “Mrs. [Mom], I seem to be having a hard time getting your daughter to smile. Would you mind giving me a hand?”

Mom: “She knows what she’s doing.”

Me: “Every time I go to take the picture she pulls a silly face. We’re not getting good headshot photos.”

Mom: “Have you ever modeled before? She knows what she’s been doing; she’s been modeling since she was five. Just take the picture.”

(I do my best. We end up with a small handful that I think might be okay, and a couple dozen silly or mean faces that I keep in the album to show the customer how her daughter was behaving. I begin to show her the album.)

Mom: “Very funny. I get that you’re trying to prove a point, but I just want the nice ones.”

Me: “Well, these few here were the best overall headshots where she didn’t pull a face.”

Mom: No! You’re not listening. I don’t want to see these garbage ones where you photoshopped her to look stupid so you could prove your point. I want the nice original ones that she took.”

Me: “These are all the originals. Like I explained to you on the phone, we don’t do editing or retouching. We don’t have Photoshop. These are the actual faces your daughter was making.”

Mom: “She would never!”

(Her daughter smirks from across the room where she’s playing on her mom’s cell phone.)

Me: “I didn’t edit them. These are all the original images.”

Mom: “You are full of bulls***! If you don’t give me the originals where you didn’t make my daughter look like a f****** [slur for people with disabilities], I will sue you for defamation of character!”

Me: *shocked* “Ma’am, I can’t control the faces your daughter makes. I tried to get her to cooperate and I asked for your help. I didn’t edit these; she was making those faces.”


(I know that a coworker around the corner has a special needs child and I don’t want her to hear this woman’s abuse.)

Me: “Ma’am, I need to ask you to lower your voice and watch your language or I’m going to have to ask you to leave the store.”


(I immediately called security and she ended up being escorted out while calling me every name in the book and insisting that she was going to sue me for making her daughter ugly. She called every customer service number she could find, no matter how loosely they were affiliated with us. It took weeks to sort out the numerous complaints she made, but thankfully, she never came back. Good riddance.)

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Let’s Make You A Nice Divorce Album!

, , , , | Right | February 28, 2020

I work in a photo studio. After pictures are taken I show them and try to sell extras to the parents. These pictures are of a not-quite-two-year-old girl.

“I don’t like any of these. They are all horrible.”

“I like that one, and that one, too.”

“No, God no, I hate those.”

“Well, you can always just get the few you like or reschedule and come back another day.”

“I don’t want to come back here.”

We finish and order some photos. The mom goes off shopping as the dad pays while holding the little girl.

“I’m sorry about my wife. She’s a f****** b****.”

“Uh… Oh, no, it’s fine.”

“She’s lucky I’m still around.” *Looks at his daughter* “You’d better not turn out like her.”

“…and here is your receipt. Have a nice day!”

I turned and looked at my coworker with an OHMIGAWD face.

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Doesn’t Get Their Monkey Business

, , , | Right | February 12, 2018

(There is a black and white sample photo of four teenage boys hanging in the lobby of our studio. It’s supposed to look like a recreation of a photo from a Beatles shoot, and a lot of customers really like it and make comments about it. A mother and her six-year-old little boy are in the studio, and the mother is asking about pricing and what we can do for their photo session when they do decide to come in to get pictures done. Meanwhile, the little boy is staring at the “Beatles” photo, before he turns to me and speaks up.)

Little Boy: “Are those the monkeys?”

(At first it doesn’t occur to me what the little boy is talking about. I think he means actual monkeys. Apparently, his mother thinks the same, too.)

Mother: “Those boys don’t look anything like monkeys.”

Little Boy: *starts singing* “‘Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees!'”

(I am trying very hard not to fall over laughing, and his mother looks even more confused, because she has no idea what he is talking about.)

Mother: “What are you going on about?”

Little Boy: “They’re just monkeying around, Mom.”

Mother: *shakes her head and turns back to me* “He watches way too much TV.”

Me: “At least he’s watching some of the classics. My mom would love his taste in music!”

(I finished answering her questions, and she thanked me, promising to be back when they have time to get their photos taken. As they were leaving, I overheard the little boy trying to explain to his mother who the Monkees were. Really made my day.)

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Taking Some Mugshots

, , , , , | Working | December 25, 2017

I manage a retail portrait studio that gets very busy around the holidays. It is just after Christmas and my staff and I are celebrating the fact that we made it through the other side of peak season unscathed. We’re exchanging presents.

I am given a coffee mug that says “Dear karma, I can think of a few people you forgot!” Another person has given me a sign that reads, “By all means, let me drop everything and work on your problem!”

Maybe I should be less vocal about my opinions of our customers.

“Cut-Out” The Dressing Part

, , , | Right | December 4, 2017

(My husband and I own one of those photography studios where people dress up in “wild west” costumes and get a sepia-toned picture taken. We have examples of the pictures all over the walls, so people can get ideas as to how they want to dress. One day an older couple walks in.)

Customer: “How long does it take to get a photo done?”

Me: “For two people? I can have you in and out with your print in about fifteen minutes.”

Customer: “Just fifteen minutes? We have a trolley to catch.”

Me: “You mean the city trolley that leaves at [time]? This only takes fifteen minutes, so you’ll be out in time to catch your trolley, no problem.”

Customer: “Oh, good! How do we start?”

Me: “You just have to decide how you want to dress!”

Customer: *just now noticing the wall covered in photos* “You mean we dress up?”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “We don’t just put our head in a cut-out?”

Me: *a little taken aback, as older customers usually know exactly what this kind of thing is* “…yes.”

Customer: “Oh, we don’t have time for that.”

Me: “But it only would take fifteen minutes.”

Customer: “I’m sorry; we just don’t have time. Bye!”

(Apparently not all “fifteen minutes” are created equal.)