A lingerie photographer has shared the moving letter she received from the husband of one of her clients (who has chosen to remain anonymous), to brilliantly illustrate why she no longer wants to photoshop her models.
Victoria Haltom, from Texas, posted the touching note on Facebook after a woman she was set to photograph the next day called her in tears ahead of the shoot. Worried about her body and how the images would turn out, Haltom says the client's concerns instantly reminded her of the letter written some years previous.
“She felt scared that after all the preparation, her husband would not find her attractive,” explains Haltom, who takes boudoir-themed photographs.
Convinced that the letter would help boost the confidence of all her clients past and present, Haltom took to Facebook to retell the story.
“I want to tell you ladies about a time I messed up really badly. It was back when I first started boudoir, and I had a mid-forties lady book my services at a gorgeous hotel in downtown San Antonio,” she writes.
“She was a curvy, beautiful size 18. I thought she looked like a goddess, but as most women do, she had a request. She came to me, looked me straight in the eyes, and said ‘I want you to photoshop all of my cellulite, all of my angry red stretch marks, all of my fat, and all of my wrinkles… just make it go away.’”
Haltom did exactly what the client asked, and heavily photoshopped an entire album of shots that were set to be a Christmas gift for her husband.
Three days after the festive break however, the photographer received this letter.
“Hi Victoria, I am (blank)'s husband. I am writing to you because I recently received an album containing images you took of my wife. I don't want you to think that I am in any way upset with you… but I have some food for thought that I would like to pass on to you.
“I have been with my wife since we were 18 years old, and we have two beautiful children together. We have had many ups and downs over the years, and I think… well, actually I KNOW that my wife did these pictures for me to ‘spice things up’. She sometimes complains that I must not find her attractive, that she wouldn't blame me if I ever found someone younger. When I opened the album that she gave to me, my heart sank. These pictures… while they are beautiful and you are clearly a very talented photographer… they are not my wife.
“You made every one of her ‘flaws’ disappear… and while I'm sure this is exactly what she asked you to do, it took away everything that makes up our life. When you took away her stretch marks, you took away the documentation of my children. When you took away her wrinkles, you took away over two decades of our laughter, and our worries. When you took away her cellulite, you took away her love of baking and all the goodies we have eaten over the years.
“I am not telling you all of this to make you feel horrible, you're just doing your job and I get that. I am actually writing you to thank you. Seeing these images made me realize that I honestly do not tell my wife enough how much I LOVE her and adore her just as she is. She hears it so seldom, that she actually thought these photoshopped images are what I wanted and needed her to look like. I have to do better, and for the rest of my days I am going to celebrate her in all her imperfectness. Thanks for the reminder.”
Haltom says the letter instantly made her question the way she had been operating her business. The very same day, she started telling new clients that she would no longer extensively photoshop any of their images.
“Women are appreciative of the fact that I can take them just as they are,” she now says of her ethos. “I really push the message of ‘You don’t have to lose 10 pounds.’”
After sharing the letter on Facebook, Halstom’s post has had over 5,000 likes and has been shared nearly 1,5000 times.
Comments have been overwhelmingly positive, with one woman writing: “This brought tears to my eyes! What an amazing man. Thank you for sharing.”
Top image: Taken by Victoria Haltom for Victoria Caroline Boudoir. The woman in the image is not either of the clients mentioned in this article.