UPDATE III (Final): Well, it appears as if Meagan has gone completely dark. Despite repeated promises to put up her Facebook page after taking it down, she has not done so. In fact, she has even removed her personal Facebook profile.
UPDATE II: It appears now her Facebook page has been removed. Whether she deleted it on her own or it was taken down due to people “reporting” it (I did see people advocating that) is unknown.
UPDATE: Meagan has issued a public apology on her Facebook page:
It is with a humble and heavy heart that I write this message.
To my clients, friends, family, and peers:
I have not been honest in the way that I operate my business. I have knowingly committed an unforgivable act that – now – looking back, makes me ill to my stomach. I have claimed other photographers’ work as my own work, and I have been caught.
I would like to publicly issue an apology to everyone involved. I’m sorry. I am sorry for misleading you, lying to you, and hurting you. I am owning up to the choices I have made and am facing the consequences. I want to operate my business with integrity and honesty, and will do so going forward.
I have already reached out to several of the photographers of whom I have taken work from and spoken with them personally on the phone. For those I haven’t been able to contact, I will reach out to you again soon. I wanted to get this out as soon as I could – I hope you understand why.
Follow the link to read the rest. When her Facebook page was up earlier, I had left a comment suggesting that she do this instead of trying to erase her digital existence from the Internet. It’s odd though. I can’t comment or even ‘like’ the post in question while many others can.
It’s a great first step she has taken in owning up to what she did. That’s not easy. I commend her for doing that and getting out in front of this.
The above image is a beautiful wedding photo from Arkansas based wedding photographer, Meagan Kunert.
Wait. That’s not true.
It was actually made by Vancouver, BC based photographer Amber Hughes. You can see the images here.
Below is a screenshot of a blog post Meg wrote about starting a photography business:
Wait. That’s not true.
It was actually written by fellow Atlanta based photographer, Shannon Holden.
I’m not sure exactly when Kunert’s theft was first exposed, but the ramifications of what she did has been swift and severe. She was called out on Twitter by hundreds of other photographers and creatives. Apparently, she ripped off another number of photographers as well.
In the span of about an hour, her website was taken down, her Twitter account was deleted, her Facebook page was deleted and her Flickr account was deleted. The only two social media avenues she has active are a dormant Google+ account and a LinkedIn page.
Kunert is not the first photographer to pass off the work of others as her own. She also will not be the last. It happens. I can also understand the hasty decisions she made in light of being caught. Many people were being rightfully critical, but others were being unjustly cruel, calling her a “bitch” and other names. In addition, as a Christ follower myself, I was disappointed in seeing the reactions of other self described Christians towards her (Kunert claims to be a Christian in her Twitter bio). Condemnation and judgment is not going to lead her towards repentance.
That being said, there is no excuse at all for what she did. She took the work and words of others and passed it off as their own. As I was going through her site (when it was still up), I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is any of this work hers?” And if she felt the need to use the work of others as her own, what did any clients think of her actual work? Her packages started at $1500 and said ranged between $2500-$3200. Did she actually book any weddings at those rates?
A few things:
- On the personal front, where were her friends and family in all of this. She’s a married woman with children. Didn’t her husband see these photo shoots and know they were not hers? Did any friends? Anybody at her church? There needs to be accountability amongst friends and family. My wife would recognize immediately if I put images up that were not mine.
- This is the kind of thing that hurts the industry as a whole as it creates a climate of distrust. People need to be secure that when they find the website/portfolio of a photographer they like, that the work is indeed their own. One has to wonder how rampant this is.
- This proves there are no shortcuts. The road to being a photographer people are willing to pay for is a narrow, winding, steep and bumpy road of hard work. Too many people are still have the mindset where they think, “Hey if I had a nice camera, I can make money taking pictures too!” After all, what is so hard about looking through a viewfinder and pressing a button? Do that, and awesome pictures come out. In reality, the landscape is littered with “photographers” who are putting their gear up on Ebay because they found out it’s harder than they thought.
- In the age of social media, it’s far easier to get caught doing this kind of thing and once the word spreads, it spreads fast. Don’t be surprised when the hammer comes down. Sooner or later, you will get caught.
Hopefully this incident will serve as a lesson to others who think they can get away with it. As I said, Meagan Kunert is not the first, nor last to do this. Put hopefully, some who have been considering it, will use that energy improving their craft instead of attempting to put together a false story.