Wildlife photographer finds himself in the doghouse after passing composites for original photos

ByDavid M. Conte

Sep 23, 2021

New Zealand wildlife photographer Ben Sheehan has found himself in the dog-eating dog world Photo thieves, a site dedicated to cheating and stealing photographers.

The premium photographer found himself on the front page of Photo thieves site when several photographers noticed a strange resemblance to many stock images in the backgrounds of his dog images. Composing images from various photos is a common and reasonable way to create original art, but there is generally an unwritten understanding that the artist recognizes that they are composites and no don’t usually try to pass them off as his own.

According to Photo thieves this is exactly what Sheehan had done on his Facebook page (since its deletion) and his Instagram account. Especially when someone was congratulating him on the way he had taken the images or asking for their location.

Sheehan also submitted composite images to photo contests. Her Dog Photography Awards finalist photo (since revoked) was taken with a photo by Getty Images of a waterfall in New Zealand, like these screenshots from Photo thieves shows:

Sheehan apologized to the photography world by admitting to Petapixel that he had “learned a lesson in life” by passing off composites as his own work. He added, however, that the footage was not actually stolen, he actually paid for and licensed all of the footage he used.

The lesson here then seems to be that of transparency and honesty. Ben now says he’s received death threats from followers of the Photo Stealers who are trying to “ruin his life and his business.” Composites are all fun and playful until you try to pass them off as your own original work which is driving everyone a little crazy. It’s stories like these that make me wonder if photography goes to dogs;)

Sorry I couldn’t resist!

[Via Petapixel]

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