The Lounge Week 17: Plagiarism

by Heather on June 30, 2008

Wow. What a day.

I had a wonderful little show in the Lounge this week. A brand spanking new local photographer with lots of great technical and conceptual work. After getting a promo and then visiting his site, I thought, hey, lets take a look at someone who shows a lot of promise at the very beginning of their career.

If you happened to check out my Blog between 3 and 6pm EST, you would have seen this work. But then I checked my comments. Although there were some really enthusiastic responses to this work, I had two comments that drew my attention to two shots by other photographers that were the same as my photographer. I checked out the work in question and there it was. The P word. Plagiarism. I pulled the post and the comments.

As soon as I became aware of this issue, I fired off an email to the shooter, encouraging him to tell another side of the story; to respond. Thankfully, he certainly recognized his error and has since taken steps to make this right.

In case you’re wondering (and I know you are) who this is, I’m not telling and I’d thank everyone who saw the post, to keep it to themselves. This shooter shows great promise so let’s treat this as a big ethical stumble in an otherwise solid sprint out of the gate.

On the Eve of Canada Day, one of the most curious things about this to me (under the heading: What was He Thinking?) is the thought that this photographer, would have gotten away with this if it weren’t for my meddling Blog. Are we so niave to think that a Canadian Art Buyer (or PE or AD) wouldn’t recognize such blatant plagiarism from prominent American shooters? The internet makes everything much closer than it appears.

In a similar vein, I remember a lawsuit in which an American, Getty photographer saw a winning shot in CA by a Canadian photographer which was styled, framed and lit the same as his stock shot. The photograph was commissioned by a Canadian company for a small media buy; which Getty never would have seen in use. But, stupidly, the photographer entered the shot into contests, and put it on his website. In this case, the photographer, no doubt, had been asked to replicate a stock shot that had been approved, and demanded by the client. This is not OK. The agency, the client and the photographer were all hit on this one.

There are lots of ways to hone your craft- I’ve advised very beginning photographers to get inspiration from other shooters and perhaps even try to imitate their style as an exercise. Plus, it’s typical for a former assistant to shoot in the manner of his former mentor. But common sense should steer you clear of these deep and murky waters.

Drag, there was some nice work up here but this charge of plagiarism, to my eye, is unequivocal and therefore unacceptable.

The Lounge is closed this week.

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