The CEWE 2023 photo contest winner caused quite a stir after it was busted for being staged. After a few weeks of investigation. CEWE has now made the decision. This year’s winner Dikye Ariani, has been suspended for “providing untrue and misleading information” about her image.
Let me refresh your memory first. Indonesian photographer Dikye Ariani won the first prize in the contest themed “Our world is beautiful” in October. Undoubtedly, her winning image is remarkable, showing a woman playing cards in a traditional Indonesian café, “Warung Kopi.” Other than the flattering title, she also won the grand prize worth over $25,000.
“The proprietress, the sole woman in the scene, welcomes the men from the village after a hard day’s work in the rice fields,” the photo description read (it’s now been removed from CEWE’s website). However, contrary to Ariani’s description – she didn’t actually take the photo at a Warung Kopi. The whole scene was set in a studio.
After investigating the reports from numerous photographers and media outlets, CEWE made the decision. They’ve suspended Dikye Ariani as the 2023 CEWE photo contest winner. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t only for providing false information and misleading the jury and the public. According to CEWE, Ariani has also been unable to prove she owns the usage rights.
Here is the complete statement from CEWE:
“The photo selected by the jury as the overall winner, as well as the winner of the “People” category, is – contrary to the photographer’s statement – not an authentic shot but was created in a studio as a staged scene. We were made aware of this by external photographers.
Staged photographs are not a violation of our terms and conditions. However, the photographer provided untrue and misleading information regarding the creation of the photograph to us and to the jury president of the CEWE Photo Award on stage during the award ceremony, thus misleading the public. This contradicts the values that CEWE stands for as a company.
Furthermore, legal questions arise regarding the usage rights of the photo. The photographer has not satisfactorily answered these questions and failed to submit appropriate documents establishing her as the owner of the usage rights.
We will therefore suspend the award status until the legal situation concerning the photo is fully clarified. Meanwhile, the photo will no longer be displayed by us on our website or other CEWE media.”
This isn’t our first time seeing a staged image winning a prestigious contest. In 2019, Malaysian photographer Edwin Ong Wee Kee won Hamdan International Photography Award (HIPA). Moreover, his photo earned him the grand prize of $120,000, but it was later revealed to be staged. My favorite case involves photographing a stuffed anteater and winning the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.