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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