- People don’t know what to make of a couple’s 2017 wedding pictures, which were taken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and feature the couple appearing to be held at gunpoint.
- John Milton, an American travel photographer, said he and his wife “wanted to make sure we didn’t have the typical goofy wedding shots.”
- The pictures show them being held at gunpoint atop a “fiery volcano,” Milton’s wife “cruising’ thru [sic] the ghetto,” and a ring on a gun with the caption “Blood diamonds.”
- The pictures are real and the wedding really took place.
- People think the whole thing is in poor taste.
As Cecilia Christin, a 28-year-old ESL teacher who posted the photos on Facebook, said, people think there’s “literally too many things wrong” with the photos.
Christin told INSIDER that she doesn’t know the couple personally and she found the post on her Instagram Discover page because she runs a travel-themed Instagram.
“I decided to share these pictures in order to foster discussion within my friends and following, specifically about the accessorization [sic] of black bodies for this couple’s photo shoot,” Christin said. She said took issue with how the couple uses “black and brown people and their experiences as props to gain a following” on Instagram.
On Tuesday it appeared that Milton had deleted his popular Instagram account, 30.raw, but Christin had taken screenshots of the posts beforehand. The pictures also appear on a photography blog by Steve Huff in a June 2017 guest post by Milton titled “Outside of the Box Congo Wedding Shoot with the Leica M10.”
The pictures show Milton and his wife, who is not named in Milton’s Facebook profile or in the blog post.
In the captions, Milton described events like exchanging vows “at the top of an active Congolese volcano with a local tribe while a civil war is brewing below,” which he wrote is “surrealism at its best.”
The photos, which were originally uploaded to Instagram in February 2017, have now gone viral, thanks to Christin’s post.
The posts were filed to hashtags including “wanderlust,” “awesomepix,” “instagood,” and “beautiful,” among others.
Milton described a wedding ring on top of an AK-47 as “Blood diamonds.”
“Just cruising’ thru [sic] the ghetto in Congo in a wedding dress,” he captioned one post.
When one Instagram commenter asked about how they came up with the “out of the box” poses, Milton said they “just wanted to make sure we didn’t have the typical goofy wedding shots :-)”
Amid the controversy, it seems Milton’s Instagram page has gone dark
Before it was apparently shuttered, Milton ran a fairly popular travel page.
On Tuesday, his page had just over 11,000 followers. In his bio, he described himself as an “‘outside the box’ adventurist” and “African tribes junkie” who “survived Colombian narco [sic] rebels.”
Prior to seemingly taking down his page, Milton’s account was set to private. He declined INSIDER’s requests to follow him, but in a 2016 interview with fellow photographer Eric Kim he described himself as a “Yankee living in Budapest, Hungary, for the past 20 years as an investment banker until recently when I decided it was time to retire and really start enjoying life.”
People online are horrified by the photos and their implications
People think the photos are troubling on several levels.
Poverty porn? War porn? I don't even know what the fuck you'd call these absolute deadshits pic.twitter.com/qnQuPlIzzx
— Bri (@briiilliant) October 23, 2018
Humanity had its chance, we failed. https://t.co/efSQjuWdOu
— Amber ☘️ (@AmberBaldet) October 23, 2018
Wow!!! Can't even articulate anything other than wow! ???????????????????????????????????????????? https://t.co/M3AGDVijUN
— Arya's list (@bad_bloodz_) October 23, 2018
Many called the photo series racist.
I think is just racist
— C-S.K_69 ???? (@sibz_urine) October 23, 2018
I'm seething – this is perhaps the most cringe thing I've seen. Taking wedding pictures in the Congo with all the tired, racist stereotypes you can possibly muster. Despicable. https://t.co/KQQ7s38UFB
— aditi (@a_svc) October 23, 2018
Some wondered if it was satire.
This has to be some kind of satire on Westerners using poverty & war as a backdrop to their “adventurous lifestyles”, doesn’t it? I mean, they can’t actually be serious, can they?
— Gemma (@gemmagreene16) October 23, 2018
I can't fathom what's going on here – is this satire?? https://t.co/d4zasFJ49p
— Sophia Morrell (@SophiaMorrell) October 23, 2018
In the interview with Kim, Milton appeared to embrace the controversial nature of his work. “I would describe my style as ‘raw and in your face,'” he said. “I like to stir the pot and push the envelope. My travel habits and photographic style clearly show that.”
While this incident certainly stands out, it’s not the only viral wedding story to divide the internet this year.
There was the wedding photographer who was criticised for shoving the bride’s stepmother in order to get a photo. And earlier this year, people were confused by a wedding planner’s bizarre list of “rules and regulations,” aghast when a bride didn’t understand why her African American friend didn’t want to attend her wedding at a plantation, and thoroughly upset by the bride who pranked a bridesmaid by asking her to wear a $US188 yellow “monstrosity.”
Neither Milton nor Huff immediately returned INSIDER’s requests for comment.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.