Plagiarized Photography Portfolios are Now Just One Click Away…


You know, it used to be even photography thieves had to put some work in if they wanted to get a bit of dishonest business, but a new project by the name of Pro-folio shows that just a little bit of code can make stealing photos and creating a whole fake portfolio a one-click affair.

Pro-folio is an academic project by Royal College of Art student Sures Kumar. He describes it as “a speculative academic project aimed at intellectual stimulation and debate regarding the identities generated online,” but for photographers it might also qualify as “scary as crap,” or other similar scientific terms.

Creating a fake portfolio with Pro-folio (which is currently undergoing some technical changes) takes just one step: type in your name.

Once you’ve done that, the website automatically pulls from “various online sources” (such as public Behance galleries) and creates your very own fake portfolio so compelling it took testers an average of four minutes before they began questioning the site’s authenticity.



What’s more, because the project is designed to basically predict a future where machines can generate realistic online identities at will, the system doesn’t even need your name. It can do a good enough job on its own:

Theoretically, the algorithm can generate up to 690,903,803 trillion fictional identities with unique name and work combinations. Data from various online sources are used to generate these portfolios…

The system constantly learns from the users behavior and ranks identities and projects. Thus a score value is assigned for each successful combination eg. (First Name – Last Name), (Full Name – Location), (Name, Place – College), etc. Based on these scores the algorithm generates identifies which are more believable and engaging.

To find out more about Pro-folio or on the off-chance you want to mess with it and create your own for fun (once the website is back up and running, that is) head over to Kumar’s scary project by clicking here.

(via Boing Boing)

  • David Vaughn

    I don’t understand the point. Its purpose is to try and…trick researchers? How does a randomly generated portfolio show anything about peoples’ online identities.

    It sounds like the sort of post-modern drivel an art student would write in their artist statement. Maybe it’s just over my head.

  • A_A_M_I_R

    I guess it’s more of a portfolio identity crisis than an actual online identity since most people use their portfolio site to get hired for projects or to get a job. In the end though, if someone is called in for an interview I’m pretty sure it won’t take long to figure out if they portfolio was actually theirs or not!

    The only thing this project would succeed in doing though in a real hiring scenario is wasting people’s time as they try to figure out if this is an actual person or not.

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    I’d say it’s his take on the Turing Machine test (albeit a very poor one). Although he’s an Arts Grad I don’t see his relation to the problem domain.

    It shouldn’t be too terribly difficult to write a counter for these kind of things.

  • readyadolt

    the point is stated in the article ” intellectual stimulation and debate regarding the identities generated online “

  • David Vaughn

    I get that. But knowing the point isn’t the same as understanding it. But I mean, that statement tells me nothing about the project. Are they looking at how people link certain portfolio elements to specific online identities? Or…

    It seems like a very vague academic statement that doesn’t say much.

  • John Fulton

    I agree. I’ve read this phrase “to raise intellectual stimulation and debate” so many times. It’s common art speak that acompanies work that’s just controversial for it’s own sake and if there is a legitimate point to make, the creator is unaware of it. I’m sure someone is thinking “Wow, what a bold experiment”, but I think it’s weak.

  • SouthernCurmudgeon

    I see it as a useless exercise unless the author is perfecting code to market a fake portfolio generator program to sell. Sadly, there are enough photographers that are equally bad (shooters) and immoral enough to use the program for generating business.

    A more useful program would be one to automatically scan a portfolio and assign a “probability of authentic” grade . That program could even show on-line originals (or copies) of images found on other websites.