Photographer John Milton and his wife decided in 2017 to have a rather tastelessly unconventional wedding shoot with the Congolese civil war and the country’s struggling people as their backdrop. Although the photos have been on Instagram for a year, somehow they have only just come to the public’s eye, and netizens are somewhat displeased with the couple.
As the Daily Dot reported, Milton has fled from Instagram after the photos were suddenly picked up this week, going viral within hours as people shared their fury over the insensitivity of the shoot.
The images, which were screenshot and shared by a woman to Facebook early in the week, show the couple, dressed in their wedding paraphernalia, at the top of a volcano, with two soldiers holding rifles aimed at them. Another image shows Milton’s wife on a bike with Congolese people in the background to show her “just cruisin’ through the ghetto.” One image shows her wedding ring hooked onto an AK47, supposedly referencing the diamonds that were mined during the war.
In the comments section of one of the images, Milton explained the offensive shoot by saying they had “just wanted to make sure we didn’t have the typical goofy wedding shots.”
The bizarre photos were captioned with hashtags including the likes of “beautiful,” “awesomepix,” and “wanderlust.”
Cecilia Christin, who shared the photos to Facebook, explained to Business Insider that she did not know the couple, but had stumbled across their photos through Instagram Discover because of her own travel-themed account.
“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.”
In particular, she took issue with the fact that the couple makes use of “black and brown people and their experiences as props to gain a following.”
People took to Twitter with their horror at the apparent insensitivity of the couple.
“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,” wrote one user.
Others wondered whether the photo shoot could possibly have been real, given just how horrific it is.
“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?”
Milton, who spoke with fellow photographer Eric Kim in 2016, has certainly lived up to a particular statement he made during that interview with this photo shoot.
“I would describe my style as ‘raw and in your face.’ I like to stir the pot and push the envelope. My travel habits and photographic style clearly show that.”