Friday, September 30, 2011
Terje Hellesø's fraudulent photos
During the past couple of years the well-known award-winning wildlife photographer Terje Hellesø has published a series of stunning photos of wild lynx. On his blog, the most visited nature photo blog in Sweden, we could all follow Hellesø in his close encounters with wild animals.
However, when in one picture a lynx wore a wintercoat in a landscape obviously from the middle of the summer, an employee of the “Swedish Hunters’ Association”, Gunnar Glöersen, started to ask questions. At first Terje Hellesø denied all accusations and it was not until the Flashback group presented incontrovertible evidence of six manipulated photos that he admitted the alterations.
Flashback is an informal group of anonymous members belonging to the Swedish internet discussion forum Flashback.org.
It has now become clear that pictures of lynx, wolf, badger, and raccoon dog were copied by Terje Hellesø from several internet sites and pasted into his own photographs of Swedish landscapes, Terje then claiming them to be of his own origin. Hellesø found these images on various photo stock agency and photographers' websites.
Hellesø published many of the manipulated pictures on his blog and also in a photo book and in magazines, and sent them for publication on several websites.
The organization PhotoNatura announced in a press release on September 23 that they will immediately withdraw the photo book ”PhotoNatura#1″ because they ”strongly suspect” that there are manipulated photos by Terje Hellesø in it. Not only are there the problems with the integrity of Terje's contributions, but the publisher is also concerned that they may be liable in any copyright infringement cases involving the book.
The story has generated intense interest in the Swedish media, and the number of pictures that have been shown to be manipulated is increasing daily. In different photo communities and on comments added to articles around the world, people have been asking: how could he do this and expect to get away with it? The Photoshop work isn’t even well done. But he did, and he fooled a lot of people. For example the small town of Söderhamn in Sweden, one of several municipalities that purchased photographs from Hellesø, stated on September 16 that it will not be able to use any of the pictures for which it paid 740 000 SEK for (approx. 81 000 EUR).
Hellesø was awarded the 2010 Nature Photographer of the Year prize by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, a very prestigious award among Swedish photographers. The prize included an exhibition at The Swedish Museum of Natural History in 2012, and Hellesø was going to show all ”his” photos of lynx there. Hellesø at first just admitted manipulations of the six proven doctored photos, but investigators from the Flashback forum continued searching for evidence and have quickly uncovered 16 more manipulated photos. Terje Hellesø's award of the 2010 Nature Photographer of the Year has now been revoked.
The members of Flashback have revealed that Terje Hellesø has violated the copyright of multiple photographers from different parts of the world.
Hellesø has admitted to the Swedish media that he had 93 manipulated photos of lynxes on his computer, but he says he has now deleted them.
How did the Flashback investigators succeed in exposing the fraud? They used Google and searched for "lynx", "bobcat" etc and went through thousands and thousands of animal pictures. All this was done manually via massive crowdsourcing. The group has done an extremely good job of spotting stolen images, even when they have been reversed, silhouetted, blurred or otherwise manipulated.
Hellesö’s manipulations ware uncovered four weeks ago, but the Swedish media haven't yet discussed Terje Hellesø's violation of copyright. So far the focus has been on his actions and the media has merely talked about him "taking photos from the internet". Flashback now thinks it is more important to focus on the originators and the license owners. Behind every "photo from the internet" there is a photographer. Flashback contacted Photographers Direct when they found at least one of our photographers' images had been used by Terje Hellesø.
The original image can be viewed here:
So far the Flashback diggers have revealed 36 stolen pictures and the search is still on-going. The Flashback team are trying to find every originator so that they can protect their image copyright.
Many of the images can be viewed on the Flashback blog, and any wildlife photographers who find images they believe are theirs should contact Flashback direct.
Flashback's full story can be viewed on their blog: terjadefoton.wordpress.com
Much of the text for this article was provided by Flashback and has been edited by Photographers Direct.
Posted by Fair Trade Photographer at 8:41 AM