An Ohio photographer is being praised online after shutting down a client who tried to terminate her contract over her support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the text message, which was shared on Twitter, the bride requests a refund on her deposit on the grounds that she and her fiancé “cannot bring (themselves) to support anyone who is so outspoken on matters that simply do not concern them as well as someone that does not believe that ALL lives matter.”
“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,” the bride added. “Please let me know when and how we can expect our refund and we are requesting to be relieved from our contract. Thanks.”
In response, Rochelle explained that “unfortunately,” there was nothing she could do, as the contract the couple signed was nonrefundable.
“I will email you a cancellation agreement shortly that will require your signature to forfeit your date,” Rochelle added. “I wish you a lifetime of growth and I would like to thank you for your donation to Black Lives Matter.”
The bride simply replied, “you will be hearing from our attorney.”
Rochelle told In The Know that prior to the exchange, she and the bride had met on two separate occasions — once during the initial consultation, where the pair reviewed packages for the January 2021 wedding and signed the aforementioned contract, and a second time to take the couple’s engagement photos, “which is complimentary with the package (the bride) chose.”
“We got along very well in both situations… so well, in fact, that she followed my personal social media platforms shortly after,” Rochelle shared. “That’s where I believe she realized we must have different views on things.”
Though Rochelle said she was unsure of the exact “deciding point” that led the bride to cancel her services, she said she’s been actively sharing educational material on her social media pages following the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
“I shared a lot of things on my profiles in hopes of educating people and showing support, as well as attended protests and even stood alone with a sign on the sidewalk in my own small town weeks ago,” the photographer explained.
Rochelle says she has not heard from the bride since tweets of the text exchange went viral, racking up over 1.1 million likes and nearly 200,000 retweets in just three days.
“I have not heard anything from her,” she told In The Know. “She has deactivated social media and she has yet to sign the release of contract that I have sent her.”
Rochelle also shared the exchange on her own personal Facebook, where she received an outpouring of support from friends, customers and strangers alike.
“She’s my HERO,” one woman wrote.
“Not all heroes wear capes,” said another. “Some wield camera equipment and biting wit.”
Two days after the text messages were first shared, Rochelle again took to Facebook to address a group of people who had apparently used photoshopped versions of her exchange to make it seem as though the incident was fabricated in order to boost her business.
“I was hoping to lay low until this frenzy blew over but today I woke up to something that hurt my soul,” she wrote. “There is a photoshopped screenshot circulating stating that coming forward with this story was a business tactic to make a profit on the blm movement.”
“This is the most incredibly absurd thing I have ever heard,” she continued. “The original post started out private until a friend asked if she could share it. I never had the intentions or the desire to go viral for this or anything else.”
The photographer went on to explain that prior to the post, she was already booked through winter 2020 and was not even close to hurting for business.
“I already don’t have enough availability as it is,” she wrote. “I considered deleting the original post but it is viral on multiple platforms from other people and deleting it would go against everything I stand for.”
“I have always stood up for human rights and will continue to do so. I have marched with my loved ones as well as alone,” she added. “My intentions are pure. Please know that what you saw from me was the complete story.”
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A post shared by Shakira Rochelle (@shakirarochellephotographyy) on Jun 5, 2020 at 5:34pm PDT
Despite losing a client, Rochelle told In The Know she stands by her decision to share the messages, in hopes of exposing the level of racism and hatred that still abounds in America.
“It was important to me for people to understand that these things are happening,” she said. “Racism is very real and very alive today. No amount of backlash I have received will come close to what our people of color experience every single day for just waking up.. and for that, I will keep standing and keep fighting for what I believe is right.”
Activism isn’t limited to standing on the frontlines. Here are places you can donate to help the Black Lives Matter movement and the protestors.
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