The family photos, taken from a flower-lined waterfront, are typical in every way but one: the smiling faces look like something a grade school student would draw in crayon.
“Ok. This is NOT a joke,” wrote Pam Dave Zaring on Friday from what appears to be a legitimate Facebook account. “We paid a photographer, who claimed to be a professional, $2-250 for a family photo shoot. Please see these FOR REAL photos she delivered to us. ... She said the shadows were really bad on the beautiful, clear, sunny day and that her professor never taught her to retouch photos. Feel free to share.”
And share the photos is exactly what people did. They zipped across the internet, inspiring news articles, spoofs and laughs.
The original post had more than 275,000 shares as of Saturday morning.
But is the story real? Did a photographer really commit such a grave “Photoshop fail,” as Mashable reported?
Some think such poor work could only be in jest, believing the entire gaffe is simply a clever marketing trick.
“You are an internet hit. I’m putting money on the fact that you are doing this for marketing!” wrote Peter Finnan on Facebook.
The photos are credited to “IMagery by Lesa Hall.”
A LinkedIn account under Lesa Hall’s name purports to own a photography business named “IMagery by Lesa Hall.” It is unclear if she is the person behind the photos or not.
This Lesa Hall lives in St. Louis and studied photography in college, according to the account.
The Zarings live in Missouri, according to Mashable.
Whether the photos were botched purposely or accidentally remains a mystery.
But even those who appear angered by Hall’s work acknowledge the humor in it.
“What a joke you are. Find a new line of work! You should not be taking photos,” wrote one commenter, “but you are very funny at times.”