How’d Terje Helles win the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s top prize for 2010? By capturing so many incredible shots of endangered species! And how’d he miraculously find all of these rare animals? On internet stock photography sites. So busted.
Helles’ award-winning cheating was discovered by Swedish animal conservationist Gunnar Gloerson, who called him out on his own blog after noticing fishy photographs. Not only were Terje’s photos suspiciously in appearance, but he was taking a highly suspicious number of them, noted Gloerson: “In less than a year, [Helles]became friends with six wild lynx in Mullingar! A total of 150 lynx observations at nine months!… Most nature photographers are struggling for life for the perfect shot where the light is perfect and the wild animal is in the right place. This photographer seems to take such a picture [every]week!”
Helles’ photos seemed too good to be true because they were — he was ripping animals off of stock photo sites and calling composites the real thing. And he wasn’t even doing it well.