This isn’t the first time such tactics have been used, there’s a lot of fakery in photography, but it is the latest to be reported as far as being featured on mainstream media is concerned. A contestant who took part in a photography competition (2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year), and just happened to snag first prize, is now under investigation to try and determine with certainty if he may have cheated his way to victory.
Photographer Marcio Cabral won first prize with his picture of a glowing termite mound which appeared to have an Anteater at the base. See the picture in question and read the informative Guardian article about photo fakery here. Suspicions were aroused when one of the judges remembered seeing a stuffed (taxidermy) Anteater that usually greets visitors to the park where this image was taken.
Now judges suspect Marcio may have used the stuffed Anteater for the winning shot. As a result he has been relinquished of 1st place. Marcio Cabral has proclaimed his innocence, and it’s still not 100% confirmed that he cheated. Although there is enough suspicion for the 1st place award to be given to someone else. And I presume the original runner up (second place) now wins the top award spot. Update: Judges have deemed the work to be fake and he has been disqualified.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. Some people are chancers, and will try and cheat the system. But in some ways that’s just human nature, and it’s also part of the judges job, to be able to spot the fake images. And overall they do a great job in weeding out images that are unnatural.
Faking is one thing, but cruelty to animals an Insects in order to get the “perfect” shot is on a whole different level. Although again nothing new, stories are emerging of photographers using tamed animals (deemed as wild), and shady tactics such as buying food (bait) to try and entice the animal into a certain spot or position, and even using insects that have been stuck into place, or frozen to make them move in slow motion. These types of tactics are just cruel and totally unnatural.
However, they are widely used, and if they are not being used for entering a competition that requires all natural photography, many people don’t see much wrong with it. This may sound naive considering we live in a money driven, desensitised world, but Isn’t nature photography meant to be about the love we have for seeing animals and insects in their natural environment, going about their natural business. That’s what I see it as. But the pressure for great images, captured in quicker time-frames than ever before, seems to drive a growing percentage of people into going against what some see as ethical photography.
I suppose it comes down to an individuals morals, pressure to earn money (or have a career) from photography, and how they view photography as a whole. Photography for me is all about the natural moment. It’s meant to be natural, and any image that isn’t is void in my humble opinion. But I’m old school, and I don’t even use editing software like Photoshop to touch up my own images. They remain just as raw as when they were first taken.
Although I will admit, some of the instant effects that can be added when uploading images to Instagram for extra “pop” are impressive. That’s about as much as I have dabbled in image enhancements. Overall, though, so many people now use digital enhancements of some kind, that it makes it more difficult for the true purists to compete. But competition is healthy, and I guess with so much editing software now available to everyone, that is just part of the age we live in.