Swiss photographer gets awards stripped for entering another photographer’s work as her own

Aug 31, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Swiss photographer gets awards stripped for entering another photographer’s work as her own

Aug 31, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There always seems to be some controversy or other with photo competitions these days. This time, it’s two competitions. Swiss photographer, Madeleine Josephine Fierz entered the above image into two competitions. She won first prize at the Moscow International Foto Awards and second at the Fine Art Photography Awards earlier this year. The only problem was, her winning image wasn’t hers.

The image, along with several others, were created by Thai photographer Sasin Tipchai. He’d uploaded them to free image website Pixabay. Feirz downloaded them and entered them into the competitions asher own work. Khaosod English reports that Tipchai took to the Internet to state that he was the one who’d actually shot these images, with which another photographer had received at least $3,000 in prize money.

After Tipchai’s post, Moscow International Foto Awards jury member, Hossein Farmani responded. He thanked him for bringing this to public attention.

When it was discovered that Fierz had simply downloaded the image from Pixabay, she was disqualified and stripped of her award. The images deleted from the competition website. Although they do still appear on one page on the site.

She claimed she bought these photos, she thought that she could manipulate it a little and claim it as her art. As a jurt of MIFA we take these allegations very seriously and we investigate and delete images in question as soon as we can verify the facts.

It’s almost impossible for us to know which images belong to whom unless photographers let us know.

– Hossein Faramani, Moscow International Foto Awards

Khaosod English reached out to Feirz for comment, receiving a non-answer in reply addressing none of their questions.

I can only give you an answer if the addressee has sent me his solution-oriented opinion.

As the situation looks now, this will surely last several days. As soon as I have the necessary information, you will hear from me again.

– Fierz response

I get it, I use Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash and the other sites from time to time. They’re great for testing out techniques in Photoshop or quickly illustrating a point in a blog post. But to try to pass it off as your own creation because you might’ve changed a couple of pixels. And then put it in a competition with real tangible prizes?

Well, I suppose if it works for Richard Prince. There might’ve been a slight hint of sarcasm in that last sentence.

It does raise an interesting point about the quality of images available for free (legally) these days, though. It’s no wonder that stock & travel photographers are facing such a difficult time.

You can read more about the story on the Khaosod English website.

Update September 11th, 2017 : Ms Fierz has been in touch with DIYP to clarify some of the points mentioned above referencing the article on Khaosod.

Ms Fierz states that she did not receive $3,000 from the Fine Art Photo Awards as Khaosod reported. That this sum is only awarded to the Moscow Professional Photographer of the Year and that as she is an amateur, she did not receive this prize. She also tells us that nor did she receive high money prizes from the other two competitions. Ms Fierz goes on to tells us that Khaosod did not give her enough time to write an adequate response to their request for comments. She says, that they told her they were on a deadline, but did not inform her when that deadline was.

At the time of posting, the images in question had not yet been removed from the Moscow Foto Awards website. They have since disappeared.

[via Khaosod English]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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26 responses to “Swiss photographer gets awards stripped for entering another photographer’s work as her own”

  1. pixelmixture Avatar
    pixelmixture

    Madeleine Josephine Fierz site is just a fucking joke …. what a scam

  2. suruha Avatar
    suruha

    I have looked at those photos, myself. There are a series of them, monk boys, and various adults, doing different things in a beautiful setting. But, I read the terms, however, and it states that they are for ‘editorial use only’. You can even see that in your page, above, from Pixabay. Ya have to look! Some photographers have their own, certain terms, even though the site is known for it’s free images.
    Well, she should have been more careful! There is no excuse for this kind of out right theft!
    Thanks!
    Su

  3. Su Hall Avatar
    Su Hall

    This photo, as well as others from Sasint, are all marked ‘Editorial Use Only’! Serves her right! Sasint’s page at Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/en/users/sasint-3639875/

  4. Duncan Dimanche Avatar
    Duncan Dimanche

    her website made me want to throw up !

    1. Robin Yong Avatar
      Robin Yong

      Correct…if her photoshop skills are really that good as depicted in her pictures on her page, the layout of her page will be good, but in fact it is totally amateurish…

  5. Alex Scott Avatar
    Alex Scott

    Why take down the photo? It still won the competition. Just change the award to the real photographer!

    1. Vlad Meytin Avatar
      Vlad Meytin

      Cause that idiot could have modified something in the image.

  6. Alexandre Bettencourt Avatar
    Alexandre Bettencourt

    That’s just shameful. And plain dumb.

  7. Vlad Meytin Avatar
    Vlad Meytin

    What is strange is that jury didn’t ask for the originals in raw or tiff before publicizing the awards. I am sure that woman doesn’t have them.

  8. Michael Goolsby Avatar
    Michael Goolsby

    Every single photo thief has a bio that always says something like, “I have a passion…”. This is a husband/wife duo. Appropriately, they used the word “passion” not just once, but twice on their bio.

  9. Mags Shladitz Avatar
    Mags Shladitz

    Her responses sicken me!

  10. Alan Amos Avatar
    Alan Amos

    Why would you even do this though?
    Emulation of an idea is fine but blatant image theft is so wrong.

  11. Walid Hyk Avatar
    Walid Hyk

    She is a bitch i would strangle here if she does something like this to me, wish someone would actually spit on her face literally.

    1. Najib Saer Avatar
      Najib Saer

      What are you, a caveman?

    2. Walid Hyk Avatar
      Walid Hyk

      Ya Najib Saer ya mahboul

  12. Kathy Salvatore Avatar
    Kathy Salvatore

    unbelievable!!!!!! what kind of person is SHE!!!:(

  13. Keith A Varley Avatar
    Keith A Varley

    I don’t think much of her images! I’ve seen a hell of a lot better and far more creative work from amateurs. She probably knew that her work wouldn’t have won shit!

    1. Recon Avatar
      Recon

      right! it’s like they just grabbed the vignette slider and cranked it over and clicked save.

  14. lewisfrancis Avatar
    lewisfrancis

    From the thieve’s Moscow entry description:

    “When we are children, then we want to try everything, literally to grasp it, to learn to grasp. Curious as we are always new to discover. We experience such moments as exciting and interesting.”

    “The older we get, the more important it is for us to remain like a child, in order to make our life more fulfilling and lively.”

    “On my journeys always important topics are of interest to me. This is the result of my photographic projects, as in these pictures of Asia. These children and the two women made me amazing and fascinated. I find special places and to capture such moods were very impressive for me.”

    Obviously something is lost in translation, but the audacity! I often wonder if people who do this kind of thing suffer from some form of mental illness.

    1. Recon Avatar
      Recon

      in my opinion it shows a complete lack of empathy and narcissism which a lot of shrinks would categorize as tendencies a sociopath would exhibit.

  15. Gage B Avatar
    Gage B

    I love that they are members of Artists Rights Society (“the preeminent copyright, licensing, and monitoring
    organization for visual artists in the United States.”), wait aren’t they Swiss? I guess they wouldn’t steal from a US based photographer.

  16. Luca Monti Avatar
    Luca Monti

    Since the name of the author sound to me familiar. Both authors the swiss lady and her relative with eh same surname who hold the copyright on the website; I decided to just dig up little… The names infects was strangely and heavily recurring in so many different worldwide competitions as repeatedly winners. Now is not impossible explore a broad range of photographic genres for a successful commercial photographer, but is very unusual for a couple of amateurs. Just few minutes on Google and I found that they faked another photo in another worldwide competition. The competition details are these : FAPA International Fine Art Photography Awards London UK Fascination Wildlife – Adventure and Patience Categories Wildlife/Animals Nominee Madeleine Josephine Fierz Date: 12th June 2016 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d6e9eda95db1110512e95f92cc53e59e1bfe406f1617ab6ffb994743b3db7821.jpg . The first picture is the image submitted by the Fierz and the second picture is an image found on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/th/ม้าลาย-สัตว์ป่า-ม้าลายข้าม-แอฟริกา-792596/ made by Sponchia. If you spend just few second to rotate the image, with the exception of few more cloud added the pictures results exactly the same. I guess a serious investigation should be made from any of contest awarded a prize to these people….
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/58f0983f2b46e4d6c2f6722b247e3d8bdf9fa913e15bf7f9c57edb0e5a2b76f0.jpg

  17. Luca Monti Avatar
    Luca Monti

    Dear all,
    Apologies for this second post. I was thinking to pay and paste the previous one and send it to the original author of the picture. Then to find his contacts I get back on Pixbay and found his page. Open it what a surprise… I found two pictures that this alleged photographer, but now call her with her real qualification : scammer used to win an important international prize in the same contest. Here again. This is page from the contest website : https://fineartphotoawards.com/winners-gallery/fapa-2015-2016/amateur/wildlife-animals/hm/2222

    Photos number 2 and 5 are just photoshop images came from the work of this photographer : https://pixabay.com/th/ม้าลาย-สัตว์-แอฟริกา-ลาย-ซาฟารี-847542/ and https://pixabay.com/th/ช้าง-งาช้าง-สัตว์-แอฟริกา-นักล่า-970456/ . https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/90c7f24bd22e036dbc940e83ef8b49c0f909d2d9899a37af39fa9a1e78705d6e.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9732b7917448c2a2892256f7537a558bf9547534b8b2d405106ae1ba217ff33f.jpg

    We should act now and stop this fraud !

  18. Rick Avatar
    Rick

    So basically contest organizers are not smart enough to do a google image search….

    1. Robin Yong Avatar
      Robin Yong

      Happens many times…I just caught another one today…Photographer from India using famous photographer Giovanni Frecussa’s zebra photos for a contest….https://www.facebook.com/australianphotographymag/photos/a.1486178588140236.1073741891.174345179323590/1486178811473547/?type=3&theater

  19. Kanyapak Sakarin Avatar
    Kanyapak Sakarin

    Shameless thief. And she call herself a photographer when she disregard intellectual property!!!!?????