PetaPixel

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!


 
 
  • http://twitter.com/mauriciomatos Mauricio Matos

    Sad

  • http://twitter.com/mauriciomatos Mauricio Matos

    Sad

  • http://www.architectofvision.com Henning Wüst

    For the german speaking part of the comunity: As a german photographer living nearby the arctic circle in Swedish-Lapland i just blogged about the topic in german language here

    http://www.lapplandblog.eu/files/skandal_gefalschte_fotos_schweden_1109.php

    Best regards from the polar circle

    Henning

  • Anonymous

    Is the fudged picture with the lynx available to see online anywhere?

  • http://www.facebook.com/TomasPhotos Tomas Nilsson

    Hm…aren’t you seeing it online right here in this post?

    Jokes aside, there has been quite a kerfuffle on various Swedish photo blogs and sites over this, since the guy has preached “pure” photography for years, so the irony is definitely there. A certain amount of snickering too about it all, that a high and mighty purist turns out to be a cheat and image thief…not to mention rather bad at photoshop manipulation. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnmoyer1 John Moyer

    seems like there’s a lot of this going on … why even bother to learn photoshop if u have no integrity?

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Gloerson’s blog post has some more examples: http://www.jagareforbundet.se/blogg/index.php/2011/08/drombilden/ You’ll prob need to use Google translate on it

  • http://www.teknisyan.net Teknisyan

    This only shows how good he is with a photo editing program. Though the photo should have been a digital art already.

  • Dennis Clark

    I do envy those with the opportunity to pursue photographic excellence all over the world. There are great photographers in every corner of the planet. To have the opportunity to be paid to search the world and make images that can alter lives, thoughts and actions by millions is not just a gift, it carries responsibility. When we squander that opportunity by taking an easy path it does, at the very least, a disservice to all with the integrity to do the honest work to prove their point and casts doubt on every great photograph. I am saddened by the fact that some will use other than honest means to help their cause. My photographic goal has always been to make the best photograph my talent, equipment and location can provide. By showing it to others, I hope to inspire those who appreciate the beauty I find there and instill the desire to seek their own expression of excellence in the world.

    Dennis Clark
    Seattle, WA

  • lloyd -

    How could nobody tell? these photos are BAD

  • Sean Safreed

    While this story is definitely sad and immoral, it shouldn’t be surprising. MANY, and I mean many of the great photos that you see of wild life are either staged or partially staged. Heard the one about the NG photographer that was out to photo poison dart frogs–tiny, beautiful and poisonous. Well, to get the frog to stay absolutely still, the photographer would catch the frog, shake it so it would be disoriented and then place it artfully on a leaf to take the picture. Well, the photographer in question ended up for more than they bargained for when the poison from the skin was absorbed through the palms and they had to be airlifted to a hospital. Just sad how many pictures are the result of baiting, posing and other suspect methods to capture wild life in ‘nature’.

  • Anonymous

    In the words of Jeremy Cowart “Sometimes Photoshop is part of the game, sometimes it IS the game…” But the line these days is so subjective in gray, where do you draw it? This also happened last year with the “Lone Wolf” picture: 

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/20/wolf-wildlife-photographer-award-stripped

  • Anonymous

    In the words of Jeremy Cowart “Sometimes Photoshop is part of the game, sometimes it IS the game…” But the line these days is so subjective in gray, where do you draw it? This also happened last year with the “Lone Wolf” picture: 

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/20/wolf-wildlife-photographer-award-stripped

  • Kim Jansen van Rensburg

    Not good…

  • http://claz.org Classifieds

    All this is sad. And more. Ever wondered how people manage this way to detect fraud. Identify the need, but to find fiction, you need to strongly look closely. And so every shot?

  • Jörgen from Sweden

    The reason that nobody revealed the truth, seems to be that the photographer was a member of a wery respected organisation of nature wildlife photographers with wery high ethical standards so i guess his collegues couldnt imagine that he was a cheater. Another reason was that he was popular amongst the people that are against hunting lynx in sweden, and amongst these people there are wery poor understanding of the animals and nature. It took a hunter (Gunnar Glöersen) to see that the photos was fake.

  • Bionicsteve

    @Lloyd: let me guess, you could tell because of the pixels?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    On Flickr, young dishonest photographers can grow up to become famous, secretly dishonest photographers in a healthy environment that promotes photographic cheats just like this.

  • Torstenhultqvist

    A collection of all his photoshoped pictures can be found here. https://www.flashback.org/sp32639216

    The text is in swedish, but in the bottom of the post there is a list of images ppl have found. A sad day for nature photo, but might elevate the standards in the long run

  • Jack
  • Guest

    Are you f*ckin’ kidding me with that question?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1288316564 Claud Byron Yeiser

    Such a horrible disservice to the Nature Photography field. 

    For the actions of one, the rest shall be judged.

    We as Photographers in general have to deal with so much scrutiny and questions about our art.  This will just add more criticism to an already difficult field.

    I’m ashamed for the behavior that this person showed to his craft and his chosen field.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rekanize Donovan Rekanize Fannon

    Did you actually look at the opposing photos?

    I’m truly shocked that these weren’t called out much earlier, given how poor some of the edits really are with these.

    I have a hard time believing this man stood up to peer scrutiny for this long, and no one noticed that these were clearly doctored.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rekanize Donovan Rekanize Fannon

    Did you actually look at the opposing photos?

    I’m truly shocked that these weren’t called out much earlier, given how poor some of the edits really are with these.

    I have a hard time believing this man stood up to peer scrutiny for this long, and no one noticed that these were clearly doctored.

  • http://thenakedlistener.wordpress.com/ thenakedlistener

    Terje Helleso just managed to royally pwn the award-givers with that admission…

  • lloyd -

    and from seeing quite a few shops in my time

  • lloyd -

    and from seeing quite a few shops in my time

  • http://twitter.com/KazamMedia Richard Horsfield

    …and I bet he didnt pay for the stock photos either!

  • Nkaaber

    Get the fact right. Terje Helleso, is a norwegian,but it dosent make it any better

  • Nkaaber

    Get the fact right. Terje Helleso, is a norwegian,but it dosent make it any better

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mericiana.Howard Mericiana Howard

    Wow, are we really that vain in sharing our beliefs of what is integrity re. the reality of what shows up when we take an image.  When I download images from my visionary art, sometimes Jesus shows up and I am baffled how that happened ~ yet his energy comes through me and I never know what to expect until I view the art ~ believe in the truth that miracles do happen in strange ways and it is always the mystery that we search for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mericiana.Howard Mericiana Howard

    The truth is  ~ if we step outside the paradigm you were born in and the reality you have survived in, it would be a confusing experience.  We have to think in ways that activates the intuition and seeing in ways that are beyond what you know or have experienced.  Okay ~ here is one of my favorite multidimensional images that is known as multidimensional art ~ and every time I take an image of it, it changes.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mericiana.Howard Mericiana Howard

    The truth is  ~ if we step outside the paradigm you were born in and the reality you have survived in, it would be a confusing experience.  We have to think in ways that activates the intuition and seeing in ways that are beyond what you know or have experienced.  Okay ~ here is one of my favorite multidimensional images that is known as multidimensional art ~ and every time I take an image of it, it changes.  

  • Jack

    One new found 5 min ago.
    Totaly 19 pics now.
    https://www.flashback.org/sp32705013

  • Jack

    One new found 5 min ago.
    Totaly 19 pics now.
    https://www.flashback.org/sp32705013

  • Onomrbl

    Ummm. Don’t know if its just my monitor or what, but its kind of a crappy photograph anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/WillOwyong William Owyong

    This is unacceptable. Nature photography is not just art. It’s also an account of the animal’s presence in that time and space. To falsify the existence of this rare animal, i.e. to lie about seeing the animal in nature, it no longer becomes nature photography but rather simply art which uses nature as a subject. This distinction must be made, especially if such images were to be used to gauge the animal’s population in scientific/conservation studies.

  • Anonymous

    But he moved to Sweden in the 80′s. So no sure he is that much Norwegian anymore. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/riclar Rickard Larsson

    But he live´s in sweden!

  • http://www.facebook.com/riclar Rickard Larsson

    But he live´s in sweden!

  • http://www.facebook.com/riclar Rickard Larsson

    But he live´s in sweden!

  • http://www.facebook.com/riclar Rickard Larsson

    But he live´s in sweden!

  • Jason_barnes

    Why not make contest entrants swear under penalty of perjury that the shots weren’t merged/combined, etc? That way it would not only be civil fraud but clearly criminal fraud and criminal perjury. I’d also love to see sponsors sue the h..l out of crooks like this.

    BTW, there’s a long history of this. The BBC, in addition to its own pattern of photo fraud, has also had fraudulent entries in its own wildlife photo contests.

  • Jason_barnes

    Why not make contest entrants swear under penalty of perjury that the shots weren’t merged/combined, etc? That way it would not only be civil fraud but clearly criminal fraud and criminal perjury. I’d also love to see sponsors sue the h..l out of crooks like this.

    BTW, there’s a long history of this. The BBC, in addition to its own pattern of photo fraud, has also had fraudulent entries in its own wildlife photo contests.

  • Fcbs56

    As a amateur Photographer that has froze and roasted to get good photo’s it is more then sad this is a criminal act.

  • Thomas

    Which they actually dubbed “Loan Wolf”…

  • Thomas

    Which they actually dubbed “Loan Wolf”…

  • Tineke Smid

    Very Sad, that a respected nature wildlife photographer needs this kind of manipulation.

  • Tineke Smid

    Very Sad, that a respected nature wildlife photographer needs this kind of manipulation.

  • Tippy

    He just got a new title ” Photo Con Of The Year”