Photo-Stealing Scandal as Renowned Photographer Is Stripped of Numerous Awards

Photo-Stealing Scandal as Renowned Photographer Is Stripped of Numerous Awards

Award-winning Australian photographer Lisa Saad has had numerous of her prestigious wins discounted after it was ruled her entries had been created using other photographers’ photos. Several major organizations made the decision to strip her of awards they’d previously selected her for.

An article which first appeared on Stop Stealing Photos, who run a wall of shame that is “dedicated to photographers that feel that it's okay to steal others' work and post it as their own,” drew comparisons between Saad’s work and other images found online. In some cases, it appears Saad had gathered photos of various objects and placed them within her own scene. Some of the images used were stock photos. Besides immoral, this behavior violated the rules of contests Saad had gone on to win.

Since the article first went live, many organizations have begun investigations into the allegations. As a result, many of the prizes have since been designated to other photographers.

Earlier this year, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) removed Saad’s past WPPI awards and Excellence points. Their rules forbid “using any portion of a photograph not personally captured by the entrant themselves in their submissions.”

The WPPI were followed by The Societies of Photographers, the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), the Australian Photography Awards (APA), and the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) in announcing they were disqualifying, removing, and banning Saad.

So severe was the fallout that new winners of prizes spanning back multiple years were announced; AIPP announced winners for contests going as far back as 2015.

One further issue has been the award prize money. Inside Imaging reports that Sara McKenna, AIPP treasurer, said Lisa Saad has cost the AIPP a minimum of $28,000 in prize money and trophies. The AIPP is attempting to recover some of these lost funds, “presumably from Lisa Saad herself.”

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32 Comments

Rob Davis's picture

It’s shocking how common this is among people who already have talent and a lot to lose if caught.

stir photos's picture

it's so "saad".... haha. sorry, couldn't resist. :)

Michael Jin's picture

Truth. She obviously had the vision to put those composites together. All she needed to do was get off her lazy ass to go take the photos herself rather than using stock...

These episodes are indeed very sad, but not as saad as the fact that slightly altered stock photographs can win high awards!

Jonathon Rusnak's picture

The last image in the article is a dead giveaway. Just look at it. Loook at it. Now look away. Look again. Yep...still garbage

all of them are garbage.

Definitely not worthy of an Old Spice commercial. ;-)

Nick Rains's picture

There is absolutely nothing wrong with appropriating images, using stock etc, being inspired by or even copying work. The problem lies in passing it off as original and, more importantly, breaking the rules of the various Awards T+Cs. An unfortunate situation, but probably a reasonable resolution.

Have you ever heard of the copyright act, or royalties? Something is indeed wrong with passing it off as he own and breaking the rules, but something is also wong with taking someone else´s work without permission, licensing, or paying royalties (or damages).

Nick Rains's picture

Appropriating other created works is a staple of the art world. Check out Prince's Marlboro series. As long as it's deemed 'transformative' it can be acceptable. So yes I have heard of the copyright act - I suggest you read it a bit deeper. Furthermore, Saad's work incorporates many stock images - they may well have been licensed or royalty free - I don't know. The only rules broken by her were the competition-specific rules, that's all.

«Appropriating other created works is a staple of the art world.»
And stealing from people is a staple of the business world. Doesn´t make it right.

«As long as it's deemed 'transformative' it can be acceptable.»
Transformative simply puts the new work into your copyright, but it does not absolve you from having used other people´s work. In other words, derivative works of my work is copyrighted by the person who made the derivative work, but they still cannot use my work in theirs, without my permission.

If my work was altered so much, that it no longer has any semblance to my work, then certainly, (with subjectivity), but this is NOT the case here. The original works were not really altered, but incorporated. She made a derivative work. In some cases, nothing more than a compilation.

«they may well have been licensed or royalty free - I don't know. »
Granted. BTW, I never said that she did break any other rule.

«The only rules broken by her were…»
We don´t know that. We know that rules broken by her were…. But we cannot say that they were the only rules broken, especially since the article says, “it appears Saad had gathered photos of various objects…. SOME of the images used were stock photos.” Even if they were all stock photos, we still do not know if she had licensed them. If she had a license, then fine.

Nevertheless, there is something very wrong with appropriating other peoples images without permission, licensing, or paying royalties (or damages). Nothing has changed from what I had said.

Nick Rains's picture

"Nevertheless, there is something very wrong with appropriating other peoples images without permission, licensing, or paying royalties (or damages). Nothing has changed from what I had said."

There is a long list of artists who appropriate other artists' work. I get that you think it's wrong, but the art world (whatever that is) does not agree with you. There have been many court cases on this topic, some based on 'fair use' which can be a valid form of use of a work and does not require permission or licensing.

https://www.theverge.com/2015/5/30/8691257/richard-prince-instagram-phot...

See what you make of that. FWIW I think Prince has crossed the line morally, but the article explores where the line is, and how vague it can be.

The art world in general agrees with me. All these cases are because someone did what is done all the time, (does not make it right), and those who think it is wrong, challenges them in court. If the art world thought it was not wrong, we would not have all these cases in court.

There is a distinction between it happening all the time, (to which I agree), and it being wrong, (to which the art world agrees, as illustrated by all the lawsuits and court challenges).

P.s., I would NEVER call Prince an artist. He is a disgusting thief, and is NOT loved by the art world, but by pretentious wealthy patrons, looking for controversy. Prince does not sell art, (or at least, not his own art), but controversy.

Nick Rains's picture

Did you read the link I shared? I suspect not as I think it spells out my points quite clearly. And the 'art world' does not sue people, individuals do. The art world sits back gleefully to see what happens next. Art lives on the edge, and pushes at preconceived ideas or boundaries - Prince does that in spades, which is why he has to be considered an artist even if you (and I, too) find it objectionable.

Wonder Woman's picture

These shouldn't even be categorised as 'photos'.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Jeez, this woman seems to have released so many asset flips, I wouldn’t be surprised to find her work on “Steam”.

Struggling to see why the above images won any awards in the first place, to be honest. Looks like any other images you could stumble across on deviant art.

Hey! Some images on Deviant Art deserve awards! ;-)

(Seriously, some of those peeps are quite talented).

Ignacio Balbuena's picture

I would say that has a similar style to Oriol Jolonch, the difference is that the pictures of Oriol are actually pleasant to the eye. This one from my point of view are like the works that someone does in the university and get rejected.

It’s a pity as I quite like the work. Good artists borrow, great artists steal as Picasso may have said. Using stock photos in itself is not a crime but where there are rules of entry you must abide by them.

But they do not make exact copies that can be verified. Too many eyes in the world are watching.

What's sadder than Saad is how the judges had been lazy about checking.

Nick Rains's picture

The AIPP relies on trust. Checking the large numbers of images for things like stock photo elements would be too time consuming. Trust in the members is a good thing, until it's abused.

First of all these are not photos. This story should be punted over to the world of 3D software creators who would see the large green sphere and state: These are really bad 3D renders. There is no raytracing. The first thing every teenager does with pirated 3D software is make a sphere and map it with a colourful bitmap image. Actually this is pitiful 3D art.

Nick Rains's picture

What's 3D rendering got to do with this? It's a photo-illustration, is all. Should The Simpsons be ray-traced?

I could reproduce this image in 3D in less than an hour. Working with 3D media is used for illustration all the time. You could also use 3D meshes in Photoshop Extended as well. I guess you have never experienced the ease of how 3D works at such a rudimentary level? Or you are just argumentative for the sake of trolling?

Nick Rains's picture

No offence intended.... Easy for you maybe, not so much for those who don't use 3D software. Like they say, 'Easy when you know how'. Peace.

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