We have closed down our Comments facility on the Lisa Saad story. However one relevant and well-constructed Letter to the Editor-type contribution we thought worth re-publishing as a standalone Opinion piece, came from US wedding photographer Joe Payne:
It would appear that quite a few people are angry with Photo Stealers for daring to make an allegation, following what is obviously quite considerable research and gathering of proof to back it up, that some wrongdoing has taken place by someone quite high up in the Australian photography community.
As the article touches on, the allegation could have been simply and easily put to bed before Photo Stealers was involved by providing Mr van Balken with the original RAW files with EXIF data or, at the very least, original JPGs with EXIF data and proof that the alleged perpetrator was in The Netherlands at the time the images were purported to have been taken. They could also have been refuted when Photo Stealers got involved by sending such evidence over rather than letters from a lawyer designed to intimidate and make the allegations go away.
This isn’t really as complicated a case to adjudicate as Mr Swainston would have us believe in his quote. Either said evidence exists or it does not.
Mr Swainston is correct that anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty BY THE COURT OF LAW. Everyone in the general public can, and will, have an opinion which they can, and will, debate on and write about. Newspapers and periodicals like yours have even been known to write editorial articles about them. Are we all supposed to remain radio silent for this case alone? This is a pretty naive statement.
The alleged perpetrator will not suffer any loss of face if these allegations turn out to be false. The only person suffering loss of face in such a situation would be the person(s) behind Photo Stealers.
Finally, I would point out that none of the allegations in the original Photo Stealers article has proven to be innaccurate. It certainly didn’t contain statements that were seemingly carelessly cobbled together and then retracted. On the contrary, more incriminating evidence has been uncovered due to their coverage of the original matter and more instances that would suggest this is not an isolated incident have come to light as a result.
In this day and age where we have so much creative content at our fingertips, it is crucial the AIPP and other professional groups evolve with the times. Copyright infringement, plagiarism and simple lack of crediting of source material is something we, as professional photographers, have to adapt to and deal with and on an ongoing basis. It would appear the rules and regulations for such career-defining photo competitions need a bit of an overhaul too.
I look forward to further developments with interest.
– Joe Payne, Joe Payne Photography