The Whittens are a close-knit family.
The mom, Heather, is a photographer, who documents both the precious and gritty moments of everyday life. She focuses on the authentic, capturing intimate flashes of joy, worry, excitement, you name it. But she never realized how much controversy she would cause with one quick photo she snapped of her young son and his father.
Heather and her husband care deeply for their son. He had been sick in the past, and in fear that something might be seriously wrong, rushed him to the emergency room when he was actually fine. Learning from their overreactions, they did their best to take care of their son when he showed signs of being sick yet again.
Their son’s symptoms began to worsen when he started vomiting and suffering from diarrhea. Embarrassed and covered in his own mess, the boy needed to be cleaned. In a show of devotion, the father took the boy into the shower to clean him off.
Heather, doing what she does best, recorded the moment with her camera. She wanted the photo to depict the family’s fear for their son as well as show their commitment to him.
The couple took their son to the emergency room soon after, as his sickness continued. He was experiencing salmonella poisoning, a serious type of food poisoning.
Heather posted the photo of father and son online only to experience an outcry of people claiming the photo disgusting and sexual. Instead of supporting the family, people criticized them.
The photo was never meant to sexualize the father-son relationship, only show the extreme care the couple has for their son and show an intense family moment that other parents can relate to.
Heather said, “My family may be different than yours. But, that doesn’t make your way right or my way wrong. You may never take images of your family like I do… you may never share images of your family like I do. But, that doesn’t give you the right to silence my voice. To take away my right to share our experiences in an uncensored way.”
Luckily, her son recovered and is doing well. The couple does not regret taking care of their son when he needed them most.