Swedish Wildlife Photographer of the Year Admits to Faking Photos

A huge photo scandal erupted over in Sweden this past weekend after a well-known and award-winning wildlife photographer admitted to faking some of his photographs. Terje Helleso — a nature photographer who was named Nature Photographer of the Year by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 — was discovered to have published multiple images in which stock photographs of hard-to-find animals were Photoshopped into nature scenes.

The manipulations came to light when conservationist Gunnar Gloerson noticed that one of Helleso’s photographs of a lynx showed the cat with winter fur, even though the photo was supposedly taken around July. He was also suspicious of Helleso’s claim that he had seen 150 lynx in just 9 months, since Gloerson himself had only seen 15 of them in 52 years of his studies.

That photo of a lynx at the top of this post? It was created using this stock photo:

After this story spread like wildfire through the Swedish media last week, Helleso admitted to the manipulation on Saturday. In response, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is looking into stripping the photographer of his title.

By the way — when Helleso received his award in May of this year, he stated,

We nature photographers should never forget the responsibility we have with our images, from both a documentary and artistic perspective.

Pretty ironic, wouldn’t you say?

(via UPI)

Thanks for the tip, Johan!

  • rdwrt – pim

    What baffles me more is that apparently nobody found that this photo is artistically at a very uninspired level. It shouldn’t have gotten the award, even when there had been a real unicorn on it. And personally I’m a bit sad that he turns out to be a Pentax user, awwww, we all want Pentax users to be nice people :(

  • Aud

    I agree. The above lynx photo looks like a shot out of South Park.

  • Bobtunny

    Even if wasn’t faked, the judges must have had their heads up their ass to give an award for a terrible snapshot like that. Makes you wonder!

  • Aniket

    I guess one advantage of RAW images nowadays is that OTT photoshopping (ie beyond brightness/contrast/saturation etc) can be picked up on.  Thats why WPOTY competition always ask to see RAW.  Is this not the case in Sweden?  Use of captive animals can be really hard to pick up on which is a shame.  Shocking he managed to get away with it up until now.

  • Naturephoto
  • Guest

    if this was “award winning wildlife photography” kind of makes me wonder what the quality/standard is over there? all less than mediocre images imo

  • FreddyNogo

    Its difficult to get a picture of a lynx, and the foto above shows that.