Justice

What Happened When a Photographer Put Breastfeeding Photos On Instagram

August 12th 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

Instagram apologized for temporarily banning the account of birth photographer Melissa Jean Wilbraham, who was initially targeted for posting photos of breastfeeding women and women giving birth to her account earlier this month.

Wilbraham, who has more than 37 thousand followers on Instagram, was disabled on the first day of World Breastfeeding Week, which began on August 1. When Wilbraham tried to log in she saw the following message, "Your account has been deleted for not following our terms. We’re unable to restore accounts that are deleted for these types of violations."

After she took to Facebook to complain.

 

How ironic that the very day "World Breastfeeding Week" began, my business was removed from Instagram. There will always...

Posted by Melissa Jean Photography (Australia) on Monday, August 3, 2015

"How ironic that the very day 'World Breastfeeding Week' began, my business was removed from Instagram," she wrote, garnering more than 1,000 "likes" on her Facebook post. "There will always be sad humans who report my images but I will NEVER let this stop me celebrating & normalizing the miracle of life heart emoticon ‪#‎bringbackmelissajeanbabies‬ ‪#‎bringbackmelissajean‬"

Instagram late reactivated her account, and the company told the Daily Mail Australia in a statement that deleting it was a mistake.

"We allow photos of breastfeeding on Instagram," said a statement from Instagram. "We looked into what happened here, and this was a pure mistake that we've now rectified. For context, our teams review content when it's reported to us for violating our Community Guidelines. They review millions of pieces of content daily—and as much as we'd like to be free of mistakes, we do make them. We are sorry that this happened, but we use cases like this to learn and improve. We have reached out to @melissajeanbabies and apologised [sic] for our mistake."

Wilbraham ended up receiving a lot of attention for the controversy and appeared in several news stories about what happened. She even gained 5,000 followers when her Instagram was back in action again:

 

Instagram you should delete my work more often #localnewsat6 #bringbackmelissajeanbabies

Posted by Melissa Jean Photography (Australia) on Monday, August 3, 2015
 

A Maroochydore photographer has won a battle against online whingers, who pushed for her Instagram page to be removed. Melissa Jean Wilbraham was shocked to suddenly find years of hard work had been deleted.#7News #Bringbackmelissajean

Posted by 7 Local News - Sunshine Coast on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wilbraham also received ample support from her community of followers and friends:

 

This is my high school sweetheart Jodi... She is pretty much my hero. I have watched her raise five incredible humans...

Posted by Melissa Jean Photography (Australia) on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Though many people stood up for Wilbraham's work as a birth and baby photographer, she did get some backlash from commenters who didn't find her pictures appropriate.

"I don't take offense, it's just my photos but they [commenters] actually forget there's human beings in those photos," Wilbraham told the Daily Mail Australia. "I kept it to myself for a day and as soon as I put a status update up my friends and clients went off, they just went crazy for it. It shows me I've got a lot of support."

She said in another interview that getting banned could have hurt her business, as Instagram has been a powerful part of her brand.

“Everyone is on Instagram, anyone who has a successful brand is there,” she said. "When I say it’s my whole business, there’s no cent I pay for advertising. It’s a perfect way to showcase what I do; I spent about $6500 on updating my website, and I don’t think people even look at it ... When it was deleted, I thought I was being punished for representing mothers."