3OYS: Racy photos raising eyebrows and tempers

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by Warren Trent

azfamily.com

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 25 at 10:16 PM

PEORIA, Ariz -- A Peoria couple says a photography studio went a little too far when it posted some personal, risque photos on the Internet.

"I wanted to do something a little special for Mike and do a little boudoir session for him as a wedding gift," Lindsey Johnson said.

Lindsey and Michael Johnson were married in March. They hired Peoria-based Lovelee Photography to not only take those provocative photos but also the traditional engagement and wedding photos.

According to the Johnsons, they never signed a contract, release or waiver of any kind.

Because the Johnsons knew the photographer and her husband, not only was a written contract not discussed, but the Johnsons say they were also given a bargain price. Lovelee Photography charged them $200 for the traditional photos and about the same price for those sexy ones.

"It was $175 and then an additional, I believe, $30 for the book," Lindsey Johnson said.

But the situation turned ugly after the Johnsons admittedly posted a negative review on Facebook regarding the quality of some of their wedding photos. That didn't sit well with the photographer and her husband, Travis Borkenhagen, who said, "We feel violated."

He and his wife, Jenna, own Lovelee Photography and say they gave their friends, the Johnsons, a bargain deal for a reason.

"We did three photo sessions at a cost of $1,500 for only $200 under the assumption that we would be able to use her images for advertising," Travis Borkenhagen said.

And advertise, he did. In fact, Travis Borkenhagen posted those racy and private photos of Lindsey Johnson on Facebook and his company's website. The Johnsons believe publishing the pictures was revenge for criticizing the photography.

Lindsey Johnson said she was "mortified, very shocked, embarrassed."

She says she initially gave permission for two tasteful boudoir photos to be used for advertisement, but the seductive, racy ones were for her husband's eyes only.

Borkenhagen doesn't agree, saying, "We do actually own the rights to them. We don't need a contract in order to say that we have the copyrights to those photos."

The feud continued in a series of text messages between the parties.

Michael Johnson says the following text is just one he received from Borkenhagen: "This is far, far, far from over. We are having 8,000 of her images printed right now."

The text messages get more heated, with the photography company claiming it would publish even more extreme photos, including some of Lindsey Johnson's breasts.

Michael Johnson added, "The only way that he's told me that he'll take them down off of his website is to pay him an additional $1,100 for the ... copyrights to the photos."

3 On Your Side asked Travis Borkenhagen about those text messages, but he denied sending them. He said the messages were spoofed to make it look like they came from him.

Regardless, he says his demand for $1,100 to remove the photos is his right.

"The way that it would not be extortion is I'm offering them the chance to purchase the copyright. If there was no copyright to be purchased then I would feel it would be blackmail," he explained.

3 On Your Side contacted Dan Hammel, the executive director for the Arizona Professional Photographers Association.

"One thing that they have violated, if indeed there was no contract or if indeed there were no model releases, they have violated privacy code," Hammel said.

Hammel isn't the only one who believes the intimate photos never should have been made public, so do the Johnsons, who claim to be humiliated and embarrassed.

"It was very personal and meant just for his eyes, and it didn't turn out that way," Lindsey Johnson said.

The Johnsons say they have filed complaints with the FBI, Peoria police and the Attorney General’s Office.

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