Student Wins Several International Competitions With Stolen Photos

Student Wins Several International Competitions With Stolen Photos

Mark Joseph Solis, a student attending the University of Philippines, won a $1000 prize and round trip tickets to Chile and Brazil for his winning photo in the "Smiles for the World" competition. However, the photo is not his, he stole it right off Flickr. Further investigation has revealed that Solis has won numerous competitions over the last 3 years using other photos he never took, but rather stole from others online.

In addition to submitting the photo Solis came up with a story, city, even name for the boy in the photo. Of course it was all made up.

Here is Solis accepting the money and roundtrip tickets during an award ceremony with the stolen photo being displayed proudly behind him.

The competition took place on September 18th and the owner of the photo, Gregory John Smith, discovered the stolen photo after being tipped off by "emails from all over the world." He called it out in the comments of the news story covering the contest.

Fstoppers Stolen Photos Mark Solis Post from Gregory John Smith

Smith's photo which Solis claimed to be his own can be seen here on Flickr.

After being caught Solis has been quick to apologize coming out publicly and even sending a letter today to Smith. But this is not his first time doing it. In fact, he used the same photo to win another contest, United Nations International Year of Water Photo Contest as you can see here on their website announcement (note the owner of the photo at the bottom). Here's another example of a photo he submitted to a contest in 2008, yet again stolen straight from Flickr. And again.

Solis sent a letter to Smith today to apologize for using the stolen photo to win the contest.

It is sickening to see how often Solis has stolen photos from others to submit them to contests. The ones highlighted above are just the ones that have been discovered. Makes you wonder how many other contests are out there that have entries from "photographers" that have been stolen? In fact, just a month ago Fstoppers shared the story of how a stolen photo won the Samsung Live in The Moment Photo Contest. Every time I read stories like this it frustrates me to think that people are actually ok with themselves when they steal someones work and present it as their own. I tried to reach out to Solis for any comment but his Twitter and Facebook page have been taken down.

[Via Rappler, Via Reddit]

Trevor Dayley's picture

Trevor Dayley ( was named as one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers in the US in 2014 by Brandsmash. His award-winning wedding photos have been published in numerous places including Grace Ormonde. He and his wife have been married for 15 years and together they have six kids.

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youth and lack of experience huh??? Mr Solis you are a student of one of the country's most prestigious school. UP students are known for their intelligence but you are dumb to think that you wont get caught if you submit a plagiarized photo to an international competition. Dumb!

I'm a Filipino and photographer, this guy is disgusting. It was like a game to him, smiling in front of a respected men e.g. Ambassador of Chile and others.
He'll live in shame for this, it was not poverty who drove you from stealing but the ego, pride and immaturity to show off that your someone in the field you want to be in but never tried being one.
Your name and your Country will be forever remembered for what you have done.
You may live forever to see the shame that you brought not just to you but to you Family and you Country.

this is just pure greed. the letter is just putting himself in a good position but never really admitting his mistakes. it sucks. hope that this guy get sued till he drops

Wouldn't they have discovered the fraud with a Google image search? If so I have to question the due process of the organisers.

Amazing. I am stunned, but not surprised. We all have something to learn about protecting our copyright rights, and find ways to hopefully prevent this (if and when possible). Shared this on

with no experience! that`s great! my congratulations!