Stolen Portfolio: Interviewer Realizes His Photos Were Stolen by Interviewee

Stolen Portfolio: Interviewer Realizes His Photos Were Stolen by Interviewee

What would you do if the person you were interviewing for a job was using your photographs in their portfolio? This is exactly what happened to Russell Alboroto.

Alboroto was asked by the HR department to interview a woman who was applying for a social media position, since she claimed to be a photographer too. “To my f*$#@ing surprise my work was included her ‘portfolio,’” Alboroto wrote in a Reddit post.

She was friends with a couple who’d recently gotten married, and had stolen their wedding photos from Facebook. What are the odds that she’d be interviewed by the photographer? Naturally Alboroto mentioned it to HR, but in the end did the interview anyway. In some sense this was a dumb thing for her to do, but perhaps she’s still a half-decent photographer and she’s going for a social media position anyway.

The images in question. Obviously Alboroto's original images have more resolution.

The interview didn’t go too smoothly. When she was pressed on the equipment she uses, her response was, “I have one of the ‘D’ cameras, seven lenses, a wide, a zoom, and super-zoom. I have it all,” Alboroto claims. At this point he knew she’s not genuine. To be certain, he asked her if every photo in her portfolio was hers. “She lied straight to my face,” he said. Her reply: “Yeah! Don't they look good? I like them.”

The HR representative that sat in on the interview recommended that Alboroto email or call her after the interview, rather than bring it up in the moment. A couple days go by and he calls her:

Alboroto: “Hey, we decided not to offer you the position because you have stolen work on your website.”

Interviewee: “I don't believe so.”

Alboroto: “Yeah you do! Those are my [darn] photos on my website and you need to take that [stuff] down!”

Interviewee: “OK.” [Hangs up]

Alboroto's images aren't too shabby at all, so it's easy to see why she might have stolen them. What's interesting to me is that she only stole images from a single shoot. Perhaps stealing his entire portfolio was a step too far for her?

An example of Alboroto's other work.

Afterwards he called the couple in the photographs. They knew the woman and everyone had a pretty good humor about it all. At the end of the day nobody was hurt, and the interviewee took her website down. Nonetheless this company could have easily hired an inexperienced photographer off the back of somebody else's work. Anybody else have similar stories?

Images used with permission from Russell Alboroto and TeroVesalainen.

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19 Comments

Stas F's picture

"What's interesting to me is that she only stole images from a single shoot. Perhaps stealing his entire portfolio was a step too far for her?"
Well, it seems she didn't know who the photographer was. She only knew the couple who got married and stole their pictures. So, she couldn't possibly steal more than this shoot. From what I understood.
Almost as awkward as Lee Morris giving 3 stars to Elia's picture.

Felix Wu's picture

When did the rating take place? I would like to watch that episode! LOL

Johnny Rico's picture

I'll take made up for 500, Alex

Michael Holst's picture

OH MAN I know I'd have a hard time not continuing to ask questions to see how much BS the interviewee was willing to come up with. Sounds like someone took the "Fake it till ya make it" saying a little too seriously.

I expected more creativity in questions and tasks from creative industry professional :)

I wouldn't definitely stop with simple questions about gear. I would ask where she finds inspiration for such an amazing photos, how she manages to capture so great emotions, what she thinks about recent masterpiece by {insert random non-existent name here}, what she likes the most about each photo in her portfolio etc...

I'd made it "scam the scammer" interview :)

Felix Wu's picture

Too bad the original photographer was the interviewer so still needed to maintain a degree of professionalism on the job. Otherwise play time!

David Cannon's picture

Oh yeah, a couple of years ago I was bidding on a contract with a top-25 commercial construction firm. I had a call with the marketing director and at the end of the call, she said, “I have an awkward question: is all of the work on your website your’s?” I said that it was and asked her why. She forwarded me several emails from another “photographer” who was trying to get the same contract and of the dozen images he emailed her, nine were Mike Kelley’s images and three were mine (mine looked like absolute crap mixed in with Mike’s, by the way), all watermarked with this guy’s logo.
I contacted the guy and confronted him about this. He denied it, and I told him I’m nice unless somebody lies to my face. He pleaded with me not to sue him, confessed to it all and profusely apologized. I let Mike know about it and I don’t know if he ever took action against the guy, but I ended up getting the contract, so I gave the guy some mercy.

Stas F's picture

hahaha great story

Nicolas KIEFFER's picture

This is an amazing story. But I am sorry to see that bad & ugly behaiviour happen very often for so many jobs, management and financials jobs included.

It is only a nice story because this time, the liar was caught. Bravo for the interviewer to keep its calm.

Mark Harris's picture

I know a pro who takes decent photos, but sprinkles other people's masterpieces into his FB feed. He doesn't sign them, and never claims to have taken them, just lets people assume, and if they ask if he took it, doesn't respond. Once the original photographer commented that it was his pic, and he charmed his way out of trouble by saying that he was so impressed by the pic that he just couldn't help but post it so more people could see it.

Bill Reed's picture

... like the made up crap on LinkedIn every day... "Some guy cut me off in the parking lot and flipped me off, and then he was the person I was interviewing... blah blah blah... stop trying to do News... you suck at it.

It is not only dishonest but it is also stupid. You will get caught.

Felix Wu's picture

or they expected otherwise...but really? where's the honesty?!

John Dawson's picture

Beyond being a lying thief, she's just dumb. You should have pointed her to Unsplash. It's perfect for people like her. ;-)

Gregory Kirk's picture

There are even worse ways that this happens... I had an individual purchase an entire compliment of my photos in full resolution from a stock agency I was listed with and use the images as thier own. The interview was through a client of mine who I had worked with previously and they recognised my work and notified me of what was happening. In the end there was really nothing I could do because of the way the use agreement was written with the stock agency. I have since taken my stock resources to more main stream agencies as thier policies have explicit protections for the photographers.

Assuming the story is real -he should have "told her a secret," which would be, relating the situation back to her, roles flipped, and wait for the reaction...

Tony Clark's picture

You are a better man than I. My version would have ended with a business card from my IP Attorney and a promise to follow up on her infringing on my Intellectual Property.

Felix Wu's picture

Since she's not getting hired, why not catch her in her face to see her reaction? It would totally give her a lesson! She shouldn't be let go so easily!

Great story! Alas her behavior is becoming all too common. I know it probably won't happen here but it would be great to post her name etc. so that she may have a harder time (statistically she's not going to stop on just one 'Gotcha') doing it again.
Sadly maybe all she learned from this was... how to do more homework and Fake-It better next time.