27 January 2010
The world of wildlife photography, not normally associated with scandal, has been thrown into turmoil by the news that the 2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year has been stripped of his title. The winning photo was of an Iberian wolf leaping over a farm gate at night. Photographer José Luis Rodríguez claimed that it had taken him years to get the shot, and that he used a remote camera and infrared trigger. The shock came when other Spanish photographers, having seen the winning photo, recognised the wolf as a trained wolf named 'Ossian', available for hire in Madrid. Organisers of the annual award, the biggest wildlife photo competition in the world, investigated the claims and have decided to strip Rodríguez of his title. He has also been banned for life from the competition. This is sad news indeed, not just for wildlife photographers but for photography in general. There is already increasing pressure to 'Photoshop' photos in order to produce results that meet today's high standards. Now, whenever we see an outstanding photo will our first thought be 'genius!' or will it be 'is that a fake?' I just hope that photographers everywhere learn from Rodríguez's mistake. If you cheat, someone will find out.
© Paul Maguire, all rights reserved.