Monday, July 26, 2010

Ex Photos Etiquette

Yesterday I got a somewhat frantic email from a mother of a client who wanted to know if I could remove someone from a family photo that I had done. She said "someone doesn't want to be married anymore, or have any responsibility" and she wanted that someone's "presence removed." Ouch.

Believe it or not this was not the first time I have been asked to do this. I have to gently inform these clients that I cannot just delete people from photos. I mean sure there's the clone stamp, layering, and strategic cropping. I am not a novice when it comes to photoshop, but I am also not an expert and even then when you tamper too much with photos it's obvious and it's tacky so I personally will not do that to my work.

But the sad thing is that this isn't really about photoshop craftsmanship it's about heartbreak. It's desperately wanting to change reality, to go back and reverse things. Unfortunately that attempt to erase hurt is even more destructive than just a mediocre photo edit. It happens though. I am certain that someone you know has gone through a divorce or a really bad break up, or maybe you have yourself. So what do you do with those old photos? It seems trivial in the scheme of things, but it's a big deal. If you have a framed photo of the formally married couple do you keep it? What if it is a photo of just the bride in her dress? Do you try to photoshop all the pictures to make it look like it never happened? Or maybe you go the old fashioned route of ripping, burning or scribbling on someones face with a permanent marker? Then you have to wonder if there is any chance of reconciliation and all your momentous are gone. I have seen people do all of the above honestly!

So tell me readers. What do you do with photos of exes? It's a modern day conundrum.

9 comments:

lewiston said...

i have a relative who's going through a divorce. they're our age and i am friends with the intended ex. so... i keep their photo up. they don't live in the area, so the likelihood of them coming over is scarce. and i think a part of me is very preturbed at this family member who is breaking their marriage covenant (there's not a good reason) and i love this woman they're divorcing. such a difficult thing! it makes me so sad everytime i think about it... :(

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

I’ve had this problem with my brother and his ex-girlfriend. I have some great photos of the two of them that I normally would have scrapbooked. But unfortunately, the same day I took the photos, they had a horrible, ugly break-up! I’ve just kept them in an envelope all these years…

Katie Bug said...

I agree that this is a tricky one. Personally, neither Jer nor I have photos left of the people we dated before each other. Even though we each only dated one other person, we both left those relationships with huge wounds. At the time, I think throwing the pictures away was part of the healing process for both of us. If Katelyn ever finds herself in a situation similar to either of ours, I think I'd encourage her to get rid of the photos, too...but not before I stashed a few of them away for a much later date.
The reason I'd do that is because now, years and years down the road, Jer and I are both a little disappointed that we are missing a lot of 'proof' of 3 years of our lives. Now that we're no longer hurting, we wish we could get some of those photos back.

Katie Bug said...

Some of our good friends divorced after less than two years of marriage. The former husband's parents still display their family photos from the wedding day, but all photos with the wife are gone. I don't think they threw them away, though. I'm pretty sure they put them away in the attic...just in case they're ever wanted again for any reason.

Crystal said...

Well I haven't dated anyone else since high school and even then they were few and far between which I was fine with. But I still have all the pictures and I enjoy flipping through them occassionally just to remember. I am SO sentimental, I could never destroy a picture no matter how angry I may have been- though honestly I remained friends even in h.s. with all the guys I had gone out with. My hubby doesn't mind either, he still has a few pictures with his old girlfriend and it doesn't bug me. Its part of who we were that lead up to who we are now! you can't erase memories no matter how hard you try or who you erase from pics! Good post Natalie!

Thae said...

I simply threw away all of my pictures of my exes when my husband and I got married. I saw no reason to hold on to that part of my past when I got married and moved toward the future.
And when it comes to my recently divorced parents? well it is best for me not to make further comment. ^_^

Amy said...

This is a hard one. I know of people that this has happened to, and the parents don't really know what to do with all their pictures. They're just in a box, because it was a part of their child's life. I have some pics of old boyfriends in my high school albums, but they weren't relationships where I had totally given my heart or anything. I don't have any pics of the one guy I thought I was going to marry, though.

Sharon said...

I admit. I have an 8x10 picture with all of my husbands family (and spouses, children) which also included my BILs serious girlfriend. He has since been married but every time we visit them out of state nobody has organized a new portrait. Therefore it has stayed. Unfortunately I forgot and my new SIL has been down twice and had to see the ex gf in this picture! I'll take it sown when they let us take a new one. ;)

The Messy Mom said...

I am going to go ahead and answer my own question here. It really is a tough one and I think everyone has to make their own personal decision. For J and I we still have photos of our exes, but I think I am okay with it because even though some of them lasted years they never got TOO serious "physically" if you know what I mean. I also think I wouldn't be able to have photos of a bride or groom on their wedding day if it ended in divorce, that's just me.