What We Learned This Week: Wedding Photographer Becomes Famous After Being Fired Over BLM Support

By David Schonauer   Friday June 26, 2020

This week Shakira Rochelle  became famous.

The Cincinnati-based wedding photographer got some help from a client who fired her over Rochelle’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Rochelle was set to photograph the unnamed client’s wedding when she received a text from the bride to be requesting that she be refunded her deposit for the job.

“We have done a lot of talking and we cannot bring ourselves to support anyone who is so outspoken on matters that do not concern them as well as someone that does not believe that ALL lives matter,” read the text. “We would be truly embarrassed to have you at our event and feel that you aren’t stable enough to complete the job we need from you.”

Rochelle had made her support for BLM clear in a statement she’d posted to Instagram. “Shakira Rochelle Photography stands in solidarity with the black community. The black lives matter movement has my endless support,” she wrote.

Rochelle responded to the bride,  “I am sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, the contract you signed states that your deposit is nonrefundable. I will email you a cancellation agreement shortly that will require your signature to forfeit your date.” She added, “I wish you a lifetime of growth and I would like to thank you for your donation to Black Lives Matter.”

“The interaction between Rochelle and the bride went viral after a friend of the photographers’ asked that she post the screenshot of the text conversation, but it’s not been an entirely positive experience for Rochelle,” noted PetaPixel. “She’s been attacked on both sides: with those who oppose BLM offended by her stance, and others who support it accusing her of trying to profit off of the movement.”

“It was definitely overwhelming, and the positive support was a good feeling but at the same time I’m like, ‘I don’t deserve anything,’” she told the New York Post. “I was just simply sharing a story that I felt needed to be seen.”

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week.

1. Photography Open 2020: May Highlights From Our Judges

Month three of the American Photography Open 2020 contest saw entries coming from all around the globe, and on Monday we featured three entries from May that delighted the judges: an action-packed photo of a wild-horse roundup in Turkey by F. Dilek Uyar (above); an image taken on the lonely road that rings Iceland by Dan Jenney; and a dazzlingly colorful photo of villagers drying cotton thread at Inle Lake in Myanmar by Zay Yar Lin (at top). Perhaps these images will inspire you to show us scenes you've captured in your travels ... or right in your backyard!

2. Documenting the Labor Behind Museum Glamour

In his ongoing series “Accrochages” (Hangings), Paris-based photographer Nicolas Krief studies the behind-the-scenes logistics that enable museum-goers to experience art in hallowed institutions. The work captures art handlers hoisting and arranging works to execute curators’ visions, showing us art outside the impeccable context we have come to expect for its public consumption, noted Art In America. The project at once highlights and dismantles “our almost religious relationship to the work of art,” said Krief.

3. A Journey to a Fake Desert Town

The summer of 2020 may be a little different from other summers. But in Jason Fulford’s new book Picture Summer on Kodak Film (MACK, 2020) you can journey to a desert town where life is unmistakably “normal,” whatever that is. The town isn’t real—rather, noted The Washington Post, it is a place that lies at the heart of Fulford’s “own personal universe.” Fulford “has traveled the world making photos that make up a fictional desert town. There is no single character in the book. Rather, the characters are recurring motifs,” added The Post.

4. Leah Nash and Christopher Onstott's "Shelter in Place"

"Connection. As photographers we crave it." So note Leah Nash and Christopher Onstott, a professional editorial and commercial photograph team based in Portland, Oregon, whose company, called NashCO, specializes in lifestyle, portrait, editorial, education, and travel imagery. Recently Nash and Onstott got in touch with Pro Photo Daily to share their pandemic series "Shelter in Place." "We started with self-portraits as a way to be creative and wrestle with our anxiety," note the photographers.

5.  From Photographer to Amazon Worker

Like many professional photographers during the lockdown, Tristan Poyser found himself suddenly out of work due to the coronavirus lockdown. But Amazon has been hiring during the pandemic, so Poyser, who is based in the U.K., took a job at an Amazon warehouse, which in turn has led to a fascinating documentary project with unprecedented access to this notoriously secretive company, noted Fstoppers. Getting permission to shoot inside the warehouse took some doing, said Poyser.


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