As photography moved to the digital age, the rate of photo-morphing and manipulation also increased by the day. There have been profound photographers who have been accused of heavily editing their work and to some extent calling other people’s work as their own. Even photojournalists have been stripped off awards as their work was found to be unoriginal or involved editing that changed reality.
Today almost anyone and everyone can shoot great looking pictures thanks to the advancement of camera technology in mobile phones. But it gets interesting when it comes to competitions, especially when there is a big brand involved. Take for instance a photography competition organised by OnePlus on the occasion of World Photography day last year. The company awarded a OnePlus smartphone worth Rs 35,000 to the winning entries.
Upon noticing the winning entries, photographer Aman Bhargava found that a picture that he clicked back in 2017 was included in the list. He then tried to contact the person who claimed to be the ‘owner’ of that photo, to which he gets a response, “I lost my own camera, I needed the money to buy another one. Hope you understand bro.”
Since then it has been more than a week since Aman has been trying to contact OnePlus India to address the case of fraud. He has also posted screenshots of automated replies that he has got to the emails he had sent to the company.
Just found out about some really off-putting behaviour by a brand that many of us are fans of - @OnePlus_IN @oneplus @OnePlus_Support I care because as a creative person I know how much of a setback it is to have original content stolen. @DeathEndsFun @thedivtagguy — Nandita Jayaraj (@nandita_j) January 14, 2019
It has become very common for someone to steal your photos these days. But the real debate over here is that who is the rightful owner. Sure, Aman might be the one who actually clicked that photo. But what if someone else shot the same frame, especially when it is still life?
I think there should be some more serious scrutiny done by organisers. Apart from looking at the creative angle, quality and concept of image, there should be a check on the EXIF data as well. Each and every entry should be submitted with the EXIF and metadata by the photographer to ensure that the submission is original.
As a photographer, it is a good habit to keep your original photos handy especially if you are publishing your work online. If there is a case that your work gets used by someone, intentionally or unintentionally, you would always have the proof and earn the rights.