From The Guardian—
The story seemed a little too good to be true. Handsome young Brazilian surfer recovers from a leukemia scare and devotes himself to combat photography to give his life meaning. His pictures are picked up by major outlets; he establishes friendships and connections throughout the world; and he becomes something of a minor celebrity.
Unfortunately, the pictures of "him" are of someone else, and many of "his" pictures were stolen from other photographers, sometimes doctored or flipped. "The scale of the deception, which emerged in recent days, has sent shockwaves through Brazilian photographic circles," notes Guardian writer Dom Phillips from Rio de Janeiro.
On the Internet, as the old cartoon said, no one knows you're a dog. At least he wasn't impersonating a surgeon....
(Thanks to Mim and to Chuck)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
John Camp: "I know that later tonight, as a former journalist, I'm going to feel a little like an a-hole for saying this, but basically, Martins' photos are as good as anyone else's. Maybe even better. They were taken without anyone stupidly risking their life for, essentially, an ephemeral photograph that nobody will look at for more than a few seconds.
"I'm currently reading a war photographer's memoir (It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario) which begins with a terrifying episode when she and three other journalists were kidnapped and beaten by Qaddafi thugs during the uprising in Libya. They were finally set free, after intercession by western news organizations, but Addario escaped rape and death by what appears to me to be a gnat's eyelash. She is not only a fine photographer, she's also a good writer, and she gets the fear and chaos across in a very visceral way. Addario has been given both a MacArthur 'Genius Grant' and a Pulitzer Prize for her work, but as prominent as she is, I went through the entire book without recognizing a single image, and furthermore, I've seen so many images like them that I was completely untouched by what I was seeing.
"I was touched by her travails, but of course, she wouldn't have suffered them if she hadn't been there. And ultimately, what did risking her life tell us? Well, really almost nothing. Can you remember photographs from Libya? Can you even remember the issues? Most of what now happens in war zones is thoroughly covered by residents with their cell phones, both images and text, and is competently reported by western governments through their intelligence services. We learned far more of what was actually occurring in Libya from Washington and London that we did from reporters and photographers on the ground. After reading through the Libya sequence in Addario's book, I didn't conclude that here was a hard-working photographer bringing critical information to the West; I concluded that she was a little stupid, or so caught up with her own ego that she'd begun to imagine that she was bullet-proof.
"So here comes Martins with really excellent war photos. They're fake, of course, but we don't know that when we first see them, and they are as effective at transmitting the horror of a distant war as any photographs actually taken on the scene. Of the millions of people who have seen those photos, I doubt that any more of the few will ever be aware that they were fakes. Fewer will really care. The money spent on reporters and photographers in war zones would be better spent, IMHO, on relief for the victims of those wars.
"I have sort of formulated an idea of what is important to people—and what is important is what is local, what you can touch, what you know about, what you can check out yourself. We have in our local newspaper today a photo of a black bear that came down from the mountains and is hanging around in the yards of some foothills residents. That's fairly important to local people who live in similar areas—warnings not to mess with the bears, how to deal with such occurrences, and so on.
"The further you get from a scene, the less attention we pay. Photography of the Civil Rights movement in the '60s had terrific impact, and recently, that of the Charlottesburg riots had a similar political effect..because those events happened here, in the U.S. Some Vietnam War photos had heavy impact in the U.S.—the Viet Cong soldier being executed by the Vietnamese general, the image of the little girl who was badly burned by napalm, both of which strongly affected American opinion about the war—because hundreds of thousands of Americans were there. But war photos are essentially like war cartoons—they carry impact, but that's about all. You could have long conversations about the brutality of war, based on those two photos, but really, would they help you determine anything about the righteousness of a particular war? Both of the Vietnam photos could have been endlessly duplicated, had there been photographers there to take them, with the perpetrators being Viet Cong.
"So why should people risk their lives for such ephemeral, and often misleading, portrayals of war? My answer, more and more, is that they shouldn't. I have a much different view of pencil reporting, but that's not what we're talking about."
Graham Byrnes: "I know we're not supposed to comment on other comments here, but could I just congratulate John Camp for having the courge to say something unexpected, at risk of being seen as an 'a-hole.' No, I don't agree 100%, but that's for another time or place or not at all :-) "
Bill C: "I have to respectfully disagree with John Camp's post. In one sense I'm not qualified for a meaningful opinion, as an amateur photographer and not a person with any journalistic background. But the value I apply to the work of journalists and photographers who cover conflict is much higher, and much less cynical, than Mr. Camp's. Yes, we as a society have become too desensitized to the horror of war, it is too far detached from the typical Western civilian experience. But with many friends who are veterans of foreign conflict I know that the reality is harsh, cold, and deadly, and we can never turn away from it. The citizen photographer with their camera phone can certainly lend to the dialogue, but not in the manner that a professional photographer can. The trained, experienced eye gives us more focus (pun not intended) and guides us to the substance of the conflict. They can cut out the visual noise in a way that a citizen in the midst of some tragedy with a 28mm lens simply cannot afford to curate for us. Indeed, it is clear that the continued devaluation of the professional photographer journalist will continue to impact the value of the visual message we receive, even as the volume of the message gets turned up."
Steve Caddy: "The same thing happened here in Australia with a barrister who was exposed only after seven years of successfully practicing law. John Camp's comment really got me thinking. If 'local' is what matters, then the impact of photography is determined as much by who (where) the audience is as where the photographer is. That's an interesting thought that touches on who/where the commission comes from as well as who/where the photographer comes from or goes to. On the other hand, it's hard for me to find or know the context of locals on the ground. I do put a certain amount of trust in photography published by the New York Times, the BBC, the Economist and other larger, more established institutions with strong journalistic traditions. Maybe that's misplaced, but I still do.
"Another dimension is that of the long term PJ. Andrew Quilty's ongoing and sensitive coverage of Afghanistan via Instagram has expanded my perception of that country and the conflict there—because I can relate to him as someone from my world, because he stays with the country and shares his growing familiarity and impressions, and because over time I get to know both him and his subject better. It's a much longer story. When I do see pieces that feature his work, I read those pieces with the context of what I've seen in the months before."
Jacob: "As a former photojournalist, I agree with John Camp's comment. I've been saying (for quite some time) that in modern culture, the risk in no way reflects or legitimizes the momentary reward."