A wedding photographer in Ohio has clapped back at a client who demanded that her deposit be refunded because of the photographer’s support for Black Lives Matter. Citing the money as nonrefundable, per a previously signed contract, the woman told the bride that she would instead be donating the money to the movement, in a now-viral Twitter saga that has been liked over 1 million times.
Shakira Rochelle runs an eponymous photography business in the Cincinnati area and said she was inspired to support the Black Lives Matter movement following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in police custody, Fox 19 reports.
According to the outlet, Rochelle was “shocked and upset” to recently receive a negative text message from a client who disapproved of the photographer’s social media posts supporting Black Lives Matter and said that she wanted to cancel her contract because of it.
“Hi Shakira. I’m sorry to say that we are requesting a refund on the deposit for our wedding,” the message began.
“We have done a lot of talking and we cannot bring ourselves 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,” it continued. “Please let me know when and how we can expect our refund and we are requesting to be relieved from our contract. Thanks.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” Rochelle replied. “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.
“I wish you a lifetime of growth and I would like to thank you for your donation to Black Lives Matter,” the photographer said.
In reply, the client fired back that Rochelle would be hearing from their attorney.
A post featuring screenshots of Rochelle’s exchange with the unnamed bride hit Twitter on Tuesday, where has since been liked 1.1 million times, further receiving thousands of shares and comments. Most users applauded Rochelle’s response and rallied support for her business.
Despite the overnight hype, the photographer told Fox 19 that she only shared the story to raise awareness.
“[I wanted to] just to be like, ‘Hey, this stuff is still happening, look at this, this is a bummer that somebody feels this way,’” she explained.
“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,’” Rochelle continued of the public reaction. “I was just simply sharing a story that I felt needed to be seen.”
Rochelle told the outlet that she has since donated the $160 deposit from the canceled contract to the NAACP.
On Wednesday, the photographer posted a statement to Facebook denouncing allegations that she came forward with the story as a “business tactic” to profit off the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This is the most incredibly absurd thing I have ever heard. 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,” Rochelle said of the claims.
Explaining that she is “already booked” in the months ahead, the photographer argued that she is “not in need for clients or business as I already don’t have enough availability as it is.”
“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,” she went on.
“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,” Rochelle argued. “My intentions are pure.”