Wedding photos staged by a white couple in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year have gone viral.
The photos, uploaded to Instagram in February and March 2017, were taken by former banker John Milton to apparently show his self-described “epic wedding.”
The images resurfaced this week when Cecilia Christin shared them on Facebook after coming across them on Instagram.
Christin told Insider she shared the photos to generate discussion, “specifically about the accessorization [sic] of black bodies for this couple’s photo shoot.”
Milton’s photos were then shared by Jude Wanga, who tweets under the handle @judeinlondon2, on Oct. 23.
Wanga told BuzzFeed News she was in “complete disbelief” when she saw the images.
“I’ve seen some shocking distasteful things on Instagram before but that left me speechless,” Wanga, 32, said via Twitter DMs.
“It hit a raw nerve because I’m Congolese, and I’ve previously travelled to that exact location. It made me angry to see it reduced to a backdrop for privilege.”
And other people were equally appalled by the images, saying they typified racism and white privilege.
Milton’s Instagram page is no longer available, and BuzzFeed News has been unable to contact him.
In the comments he had explained the idea for the ceremony came about because the couple didn’t want “the typical goofy wedding shots.”
But Milton has spoken about the images before, discussing them with the photography website Steve Huff Photo last year.
He said the photos came from “my recent wedding in Congo with security team, local tribe, chef, and a local pastor…”
In the comments section of that article, many expressed their horror at the images. One comment read: “perverse and strange, sorry. This is the first negative comment I’ve said on SHP in seven years.”
Another wrote: “This is the worst story I ever saw on you [sic] blog!”
In a separate July 2016 interview given to the blog Eric Kim Photography, Milton explained his work.
“I would describe my style as ‘raw and in your face,'” he told the interviewer. “I like to get up close & personal to my subjects. Close is good, but closer is better!”
He continued: “This mirrors my personality as I would describe myself as an aggressive ‘go getter’. I like to stir the pot and push the envelope.”
Milton, 46, is described in the piece as a former investment banker of 20 years who, having lived in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York, says he decided to retire “and really start enjoying life. That’s the moment photography found me.”
It appears the photos are still available, hosted on the EyeEm website under the username Dorottya Lucia Milton.
The woman pictured in these photos, under the username Milton, appears to be the same woman in the wedding shots. A private Instagram account, @Dodolucia, appears to be associated with the same woman pictured in the photos.
BuzzFeed News has contacted @Dodolucia, EyeEm, Steve Huff, and Eric Kim for comment.