5 On Your Side

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

Posted May 14, 2012 6:00 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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