Bad Reviews for Photoshoots I Never Did

BreakingModern – Last week, I was reading the great photography blog PetaPixel and discovered that I am not the only photographer fighting scam artists in the jungle of social media. The story in point detailed a new hack on small biz photographers that plays on their reliance to build word-of-mouth referrals and how those can translate into positive web searches related to your name.

Bad Reviews

Beware the Scam

Over the last six months I’ve received a handful of queries for newborn photo sessions. Not unusual for me, that’s definitely something I do. But I had hesitation the second I saw the senders’ names. In this case it was usually the newborn’s father and, from my experience, it’s rare to see a new dad extending feelers about a baby’s first photos. But it’s foolish to judge, so I replied with my introductory pitch. I rarely got a response, even when I made secondary contact.

Around the same time, email queries started coming in from a woman who said that she specializes in protecting your name/brand and online presence. She’s a private investigator that promises to eradicate any nefarious reviews or information that can permanently damage your reputation and ability to attract new clients.

These emails were no different than the cold calls from reps who tell me they can optimize my biz name in Google searches, or revamp my website and other social media profiles to multiply my profits. I didn’t even block these mosquitoes; I just swatted them away by deleting them.

Soon after killing the last mosquito, an email awaited me. The subject line said “Re: photo session.” Why wouldn’t I read it?


“Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:41 AM

To: Viki Reed

Subject: Re: photo session


Listen to me! I am submitting some scathing reviews about your business all week and every week. I hired you but the photo session was terrible.

The angles used made me look awful. The lighting made me look older than I actually am. Some of the photos were blurry. Are you blind? I think you should be out of business. I thought you were professionals but your photographer was irritable and did not put me at ease at all. The situation was only made worse. You don’t respect or appreciate your customers. I’m going to be writing my experiences online until it seems you are completely out of business. The good photographers shall prevail! Alahu Akbar!

– Mohammed (not the name I provided initially)

Initially this hurt: It’s not just a complaint about a service.

This was like an ex-girlfriend going for the last word before having the door slammed on her. But the emotional cramp waned when I read the line, “I thought you were professionals but your photographer was …”  There is no ‘plural’ quality in my work because I work alone. The ISIS-like language in the final graph left me wondering if America had been attacked and not just my business reputation.

Bad Reviews


The goal of the sender is to get you thinking about those coincidental emails you got from the lady detective who would be just the person to save you from Mohammed’s wicked smear campaign.

Now you’ve lived the scam through me. Kat Forder, who penned the PetaPixel piece, was also a victim and did a great job of explaining a managed response to the net-scam. As Forder recommended, I did a quick search of “Viki Reed Photography” on Yelp, expecting to get really upset, but only two restaurant reviews (which included mention of spotting Lou Reed) resulted.

Going forward I’ll be saving all the related emails if a need for tactical response is required.

Look at your inbox. Have you received any bony, fishy, cold or odd queries? Has a strange woman contacted you about repairing your social media brand in the event you should be slandered? I’m small potatoes … but they got to me.

For BMod, I’m Viki Reed.

Featured/First image credit: Through the Lens” by Justin Jensen via Flickr Creative Commons

Second image credit: © alphaspirit / Dollar Photo Club

Author: Viki Reed

Viki Reed is a writer-photographer who has given up trying to spell 'silhouette' and 'accommodate' from memory. Find her work at

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