5 On Your Side

Military wife: Boudoir photo shoot 'wasn't so private after all'

Posted May 14, 2012

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— Boudoir photography shoots are a hot trend right now. Many women are posing for the sometimes racy photos as a gift for their husbands or significant other. Couples even do it.

A Fayetteville-area mother paid for a private boudoir photo shoot at her home. It was an anniversary gift for her deployed husband. She purchased a deal from Groupon for $65.

"I wasn't going to some studio and undressing" she said, not wanting to be identified. "This felt a lot more comfortable."

Her husband loved the gift, until he went online, looked up the photographer, Tabitha Jennings, and saw his wife's pictures on Jennings' Facebook page. The photos were among dozens of pictures of other women in lingerie.

"But, to me, that's me in my panties and bra, in my bedroom, a specific picture for my husband," she said.

So, she called Jennings, who she says agreed to remove the pictures. But the next day, some of the pictures remained.

In multiple back and forth emails that followed, Jennings reminded her client that she initialed a contract checklist which clearly states the images could be "used as marketing tools in print, on her website or through other media outlets."

The client claims Jennings described the paper as a copyright release that would allow her to print Jennings' pictures herself and says Jennings gave it to her only minutes before the photo shoot started.

"I was standing in my underwear, so I was feeling uncomfortable, awkward," the woman said. "I just quickly initialed and signed it so we could get started."

In the emails, Jennings also wrote that she was "nice enough to remove all of the images that showed (the client's) face," but reiterated, "I do not have to do this."

Jennings said she would "take down the images from Facebook," but that they would "still be used on her photography site ... for marketing purposes."

Then, in those emails, Jennings offered the woman a new contract with sole copyrights for an extra $250, "cash only.”

WRAL's 5 On Your Side called Jennings. She did not want to talk on camera but again pointed to that initialed checklist, which Jennings claims they went over.

As for the Groupon offer, a couple of things stood out. The ad includes a fine print section, which details an expiration date, cancellation terms and a list of the communities where Jennings will travel. There is no mention of the added $250 fee for sole copyrights.

The client points to specific wording in the offer, which describes the photo shoot as private. "Advertised as private," she said. "I guess it wasn't so private after all."

Jennings told 5 On Your Side she had removed all but one photo of the woman – a photo she says does not distinguish her client.

Jennings now says both she and the client handled the situation poorly. She then promised to send the woman all of the images, with sole copyright. She says she also deleted all of the photos she had of the woman. Only three other clients have wanted to keep their pictures private, she said.

With the boudoir photography trend so hot right now, the woman involved in the photo shoot is asking if others might unknowingly be in her same situation – that their sexy photos that were meant to be private are out there for anyone to see.

WRAL's 5 On Your Side spoke with two other photographers who do similar shoots. They say they would never charge to keep photos private. One added she has a specific conversation about marketing rights. The other said she doesn't post those pictures online.

Jennings also told 5 On Your Side this ordeal has been a learning experience for her, and that, from now on, if someone changes their mind about privacy, she'll just say OK.

Read more 5 On Your Side stories or contact the 5 On Your Side team.


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  • grub34 May 21, 2012

    @karmakameleon you should read the comments made most of the people are saying the person photographed (who very well is most likely yourself) should have read the contract. Yes I'm the photographers brother and since you wanted to blast this out there you should be happy my sister hasn't sued for desimation of character and loss of future income over this. When the state of north carolina said she did nothing wrong and her contract simply stated what would happen that gave her the law on her side. That forced this person to attempt a public bash on her because there was no basis to the client being wronged. When the very system that upholds the freedom to have the pictures put up or removed says that the photographer did everything right that really ends the discussion right there. Funny how the client wants to not been seen on a very small part of a huge site but will throw their problem out across the greater part of an entire state.

  • mpnkosovo May 18, 2012

    always read your contracts before signing!!!!!!

  • GetRight May 18, 2012

    The photographer is right: she handled the situation poorly.

  • housemanagercary May 17, 2012

    She SIGNED a CONTRACT. Maybe next time she'll READ it first. This is NOT the photographer's fault.

  • not my real name May 17, 2012

    Read before you strip next time. The "shoot" WAS private.

  • blahblahblah May 17, 2012

    Why in the world would you invite a total stranger into your bedroom to take provocitive pictures and then publicly complain about it?

  • iknowmyschnitzel May 17, 2012

    AshleyDH, I don't think your comments are really all that credible when you are dating Tabitha's brother (of course your photos are all over the site and your bf doesn't complain)and furthermore, Jim Gruber, who hosted the website and the other main defender, is her father. Come on. I can see friends defending this lady and feel sorry that her amateur gig didn't turn out so well but why are the only people defending her direct family and friends?

  • Alexia.1 May 16, 2012

    "Incorrect. Most professional photographers retain legal possession of digital images." --Squirreling Dervish

    I know they do. I said that. What I also said, though, was that's just wrong. In virtually all other professions, if somebody hires you to do something, the hiring person owns the work product. Photographers are a special lot who feel they should own the product the customer paid them to produce. It does not work that way in most industries.

  • christa209 May 16, 2012

    Shame on wral for doing this story. The photographer covered her basis by having the client sign, shame on the client for signing something she did not read. The client is in the wrong here NOT the photographer!!!

  • LuvLivingInCary May 16, 2012

    another shame on wral. they above all people know the copyright laws always protect the creator of the image and on top of it the photographers got the clients signature/initials. sounds like no one was lead on this one. what a sorry story.