Does Behind-the-Scenes Photo Prove This $120,000 Award-Winning Picture was Staged?

Does Behind-the-Scenes Photo Prove This $120,000 Award-Winning Picture was Staged?

An international, $120,000 prize-winning picture praised as “document[ing] an intense humanitarian moment” is having its integrity questioned after a behind-the-scenes photo revealed it may have all been staged.

This year, the theme of the Hamdan International Photography Awards (HIPA) was “Hope,” with the grand prize being awarded to Malaysian photographer Edwin Ong Wee Kee after he snapped a portrait of a mother carrying her two children.

In interviews, Mr Kee told journalists that the snap was “unplanned” and came during an “unforeseen stop.” The award committee described the picture as an “intense humanitarian moment,” adding that it captured “The feelings of a Vietnamese mother whose speech disorder did not prevent her from feeling hopeful and evoking a sense of strength for her children.”

However, a new photo has surfaced that tells an entirely different story. In it, the woman – the subject of Mr Kee’s winning image – can be seen, stationary and surrounded by a number of photographers, all of whom are taking her portrait from various angles. Needless to say, there are likely hundreds of different versions of Mr Kee’s photo. Photographer and Street Photo BD Magazine founder Ab Rashid shared the image, bringing to light the real story behind the winning photo.

The international competition, based in Dubai, attracted 19,000 people from 121 countries in its second year, and has a total prize fund of $450,000.

Lead image credit: Ab Rashid.

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For many photographers who have never studied the history of photography and thus cannot adequately explain Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment, they may not understand what a camera is capable of versus other forms of representation. Painting as an example, cannot capture a split second of time in which the forces of physics and light combine to form a unique moment. Those who have not pondered on what a decisive moment is in their own work, try to emulate or copy what they feel is unique because it may have been a decisive moment in another instance or even era, when there would not be a dozen photographers with brilliant zoom lenses all focusing on the same subject.

What is remarkable here is the judges may also not be very educated in the history of photography, but simply in the era of ‘easy, digital imaging’ (aka photography).

This is old news already.
The story broke on March 18 and your article has even less information than Daily Mail's and Petapixel's, which is laughable.
Did you even try?