A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to get some pictures taken. I missed my old job of taking pictures from time to time. I have no reason to at this point. However, I felt, with all the things around me changing, I wanted to get some pictures with my dreadlocks. I decided to go to one associate of the German who I had noticed was on Facebook taking pictures. Last year, when I had first asked, he gave me a run down of what he would do. The price was quoted as 80 euros. I thought, I normally pay guys $300 back home for a photo set. I thought the price was a favor or because he was an amateur, and they were not studio pictures, that they would be cheaper. Normally, in the 10 years I have been taking pictures, if I pay for them I get all of the pictures. Many photographers offer to photoshop them, but I normally decline unless it is included in the price, because I do not pay you to be a graphic artist, I paid Sven Engel for his pictures. My friend who were models used to call this “photoshop photographers” meaning that they were not skilled enough to correctly light a picture, they had to use photoshop to clean up their mistakes, rather than learning to take a better picture. I thought, I did not care, I could clean up his work, I just wanted the pictures.
I arrived and took several pictures. I had several outfit changes, but he did not seem interested in that. He kept saying: “I like to take pictures of Black skin.” That kept sticking out in my head. My skin is not black, it’s brown. I will speak to him about this later. I thought, he has been with his African-German girlfriend for years, he knows the difference between us right? While she is a few shades darker, he should know that we are not the same color. After we finished the shoot, I said to him lightly “Hey, you know my skin is brown right, not black?” He replies: “My girlfriend says her skin is black, so I do not see a problem with it.” I thought to myself, yet another person who thinks their dating of another culture means that person speaks for that ENTIRE RACE. I thought, ok, whatever Kim, it is just in your head. Calm down and just get these pictures.
He gives me a preview of the first picture. My skin has been noticeably darkened. I said to him: “Hey, my skin is not this dark.” “I just like this look, Kim” he replies. Great, I thought, but I do not look like this. For the record, I do identify as a dark skinned Black woman, but as a photographer, you should know my color, and the difference between one Black person and another. I posted.. “Man I hate when ignorant Africans give their European spouses a pass because they themselves are ignorant.” My ex tells me that was a low blow. Sure.. that was probably right. No, he was right. I was wrong to assume that she was ignorant, but from what I knew, I have to say, I think that assumption was very right. I then said… let me ask my twitter followers what they thought about the picture. The response was positive. Everyone loved the picture, however, a photographer friend did comment that I did look much darker than normal. I decided to drop it, and told him that everyone liked it and to keep them coming.
Soon after, I heard nothing from him. Then almost 3 weeks after the shoot, I get a message saying:
Here are the rest of your pictures. I wanted to write you a very long e-mail but i decided to do it not because i think it makes no sence. In short: I hate it when people talking a lot of shit behind my back (on twitter)! Its not the other people that have a problem with your skin tone…its you having a problem with yourself. When i read your blog and your tweets it sounds to me like reverse racism sometimes. Maybe its you having a problem with white poeple and not vice versa.
I will not correct the misspellings. English is not his first language. I was floored. So me wanting to look a certain way makes me a reverse racist. After I said it nicely to him, and he still decided to darken my pictures. He provides a service. They are my pictures, I can say what I want. He then proceeded to give me a total of three photoshopped pictures that you can see below are pretty good:
I explained to him, that there is no such thing as reverse racism see this video for explanation:
I said to him, you had days to say this, but again another passive aggressive type who waits to give me my pictures, when it was all a simple misunderstanding. I think his level of understanding of English is so low, that I most likely offended him. After that I proceeded to go off, so I am quite sure that I hurt his feelings, I do not care about that at this point. My major issue was that how does 80 euros equal three photoshopped pictures? Sven Engel should make it very clear. I photoshop pictures for a living. That is what I really like to do, rather than saying I am photographer. I still like my pictures, but I am sure I will not be clamoring to apologize in order to get more.
On another note, how in the heck is that reverse racism? I think people in the world have a real fundamental misunderstanding of racism, and throw around that word too much. Some of my best friends are white, how can I be a reverse racist? LOL