Award-winning photographer Lisa Saad accused of stealing images
February 13, 2019 5:13 PM   Subscribe

 
The "my dead mother's bonsai" bit was beyond the pale.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 5:35 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


Yeah, for some reason, I felt compelled to read through that whole thing and it’s just one damning piece of evidence after another.

Aside from her lying, cheating and stealing, she then has the chutzpah to sick her lawyers on the whistleblower to try to intimidate them into retracting it all.

Especially appreciated the paragraph about how Saad’s cheating meant that other artists were denied contest awards that might really have helped their careers. And yeah, that bonsai...
posted by darkstar at 5:43 PM on February 13 [10 favorites]


I was reading too quickly and skimmed over the headline, and somehow got the idea that it was Lisa Saad's images that had been stolen, so when I saw that she came from Melbourne I was all "Yes! Represent!" Ah. Not the best reaction.

Mind you, those are some great compositions; it's a shame she went that route.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:56 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Why would she even try to claim that they are based on her original photographs??? Just call them paintings or illustrations. Are there cash awards for these photography contests? Is it an issue of there being a higher cache or respect for photographers? I am probably stepping into a decades-old controversy here.
posted by muddgirl at 5:57 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]


She should never have won the prize in the first place, it was outrageous, her images were only photographs on the most liberal sense of the word.

Fyi this story was researched and broken by inside imaging . All the content farms like this and petapixel etc are essentially stealing the content themselves. The link above has literally copy and pasted almost all the inside imaging article.
posted by smoke at 6:27 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


In that inside imaging article, it says that Marcel, the artist Saad allegedly appropriated one of the original photographic elements from, reported it directly to the Stop Stealing Photos website.

So it doesn’t look like that website is stealing content, but that is has been explicitly sent to them by Marcel and others, to serve as a clearing house for all the information pertaining to the issue.

From what I gather, industry insiders treat the Stop Stealing Photos blog as a public service, to help name and shame image theft.
posted by darkstar at 6:53 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


They are supposed to be artistic composites of Saad's own photographs, and that is the category she generally submitted under. She never claimed that they were unmanipulated photographs.
posted by muddgirl at 6:54 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Twitter has ruined me so of course now I want to see her being ratio’d somewhere. It’s a very unhealthy impulse, and yet knowing that she has been outed feels somehow insufficient.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:11 PM on February 13


(She has a page at Saatchi. Will it be taken down, I wonder.)
posted by Going To Maine at 7:13 PM on February 13


The Institute has communicated with Lisa Saad its decision on the disqualification of the 2018 image. Naturally the impact on her is significant and is highly regrettable. The AIPP remains committed to her continued wellbeing, which remains a key concern, not-withstanding the adverse findings against her.

This just seems like a really weird paragraph. Why is the AIPP committed to her continued wellbeing any more than anyone else?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:46 PM on February 13 [15 favorites]


I don’t get it. If you call yourself a photographer, and you’re going to pour hours into photoshopping images together, why not go the extra mile and take the photographs? Sure, it’s extra work, but it’s presumably the enjoyable part for photographers. Not to mention that doing your own work keeps your professional reputation intact.

Maybe there are photoshopping contests she can enter, if she likes that part more than the photography.
posted by mantecol at 8:02 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


This just seems like a really weird paragraph. Why is the AIPP committed to her continued wellbeing any more than anyone else?

I'm guessing, but maybe the concern is that while she will obviously and justifiably face a severe professional setback because of the plagiarism, the AIPP is worried about the internet vigilante-cum-troll-cum-eye of Sauron focusing on destroying her entirely?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:26 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Fyi this story was researched and broken by inside imaging

No it wasn't, and it literally says so in the article that you link to.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:29 AM on February 14 [13 favorites]


It seems like nowadays we don't even have to wait for the apology to start the redemption arc.
posted by muddgirl at 1:41 AM on February 14 [4 favorites]


"I don’t get it. If you call yourself a photographer, and you’re going to pour hours into photoshopping images together, why not go the extra mile and take the photographs? Sure, it’s extra work, but it’s presumably the enjoyable part for photographers. Not to mention that doing your own work keeps your professional reputation intact."
Saad seems to have cheated in ways that are both basically begging to get noticed and are also hilariously easy to document, but I don't think that this is actually that weird. At least with equivalent academic kinds of misconduct, smart cheaters seem to start cheating in small ways that maybe start out clever, are often functionally impossible to police, and don't always even interfere that much with the purpose of the exercise they are cheating on. However, they either stop there and don't do it again, or they escalate until they get lazy, aren't clever anymore, and basically catch themselves.

The difference then between a cheater and an honest author is thus both like someone crossing a boundary between two binary states but is also like a ball on a hill that moves faster and faster down as soon as it gets nudged. The habits of mind involved in cheating others very quickly cheat them. By the time students get caught they have often been rolling down for a while, and it seems Saad has too.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:54 AM on February 14 [8 favorites]


No it wasn't, and it literally says so in the article that you link to.

I don't exactly see that line,but you are certainly right Stop Stealing Photos broke the story publicly first. I read this first on Petapixel, where an author from inside imaging took issue with their posting of the content that came from inside imaging originally, which does go into more detail around the Australian context involved with her prizes.
posted by smoke at 2:22 AM on February 14


Cheating aside, I'm staggered that these awful creations were winning prizes. They're so sickeningly twee, with their tears of blood, balloons, and yapping dogs. The forlorn suited figure who appears over and over – with umbrella flying – reminds of the similarly ghastly Jack Vettriano.
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:39 AM on February 14 [24 favorites]


The first comment in this post about the introduction of TinEye over 10 years ago says it all. How do people think they can get away with this?
posted by unliteral at 3:46 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I really don’t get why she attempted to pass these off as photographs instead of digital composites. I imagine there’s some ambiguity in the crossover between mediums, but it baffles me how anyone can look at a suburban Death Star with a lawnmower and bicycle and think “gosh, that’s a nice photograph of a real thing that was definitely taken with a camera.”
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:38 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I really don’t get why she attempted to pass these off as photographs instead of digital composites.

As far as I can tell she didn’t. What she did was try to pass them off as composites *of her own photographs* which they pretty clearly aren’t.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:10 AM on February 14 [10 favorites]


These contests should require providing the RAW image for proof that the image was taken by the photographer in question. That way infringers can be proven to be that- since they'd never have the original RAW.
posted by gen at 6:19 AM on February 14 [10 favorites]


These contests should require providing the RAW image for proof that the image was taken by the photographer in question. That way infringers can be proven to be that- since they'd never have the original RAW.

I observe when the author made the demand for RAW files of Saad's attorneys, they shut up.
posted by mikelieman at 6:41 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


The "my dead mother's bonsai" bit was beyond the pale.

Between that and the lawyer’s letter she really committed to her bit. Given her track record I wonder if the lawyers exist at all or that was a template she found somewhere.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:59 AM on February 14 [6 favorites]


It looks like she does take the photographs for her commercial advertising work, but she's got a sideline of "art" photographs for exhibitions and competitions that are photo collages including other peoples pictures too.

It's weird she wasn't honest about the ingredients of the collages in the art exhibition context, given that it's not unusual to use other people's pictures in art collage, a form which started with cutting up magazines, and there is no shame as long as you are honest about it.

Entering photography competitions you don't qualify for, with other peoples' uncredited work involved, and then lying about it - that's pathological.
posted by w0mbat at 9:36 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


I feel like if you know you've gotten away for years stealing other people's work, the last thing you'd want to do when someone finally calls you out on it is try to bully them and streissand effect the whole deal. i really think they could have gotten away with this if they just didn't try to go all lawyer-bully about it.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:33 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


smoke - "On the other hand, Marcel has gone public and the shared the accusation with Stop Stealing Photos, a website that names and shames people it believes are guilty of image theft."
posted by russm at 3:36 PM on February 14


Every time someone says "Marcel" in this thread, I imagine Marcel Duchamp being sued by the person who actually designed that urinal.
posted by w0mbat at 4:26 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


They're so sickeningly twee, with their tears of blood, balloons, and yapping dogs. The forlorn suited figure who appears over and over – with umbrella flying...

Now I know where to go to get more Dixit cards.
posted by flyingfox at 4:57 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


I feel like if you know you've gotten away for years stealing other people's work, the last thing you'd want to do when someone finally calls you out on it is try to bully them and streissand effect the whole deal.

I dunno. When the person who calls you out is someone who who makes a particular point of exposing people to the community it seems like you should just go for broke. You really have nothing left to lose.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:00 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


I really want to push back here, on Smokes assertion that Stop Stealing Photos is some cut and paste bullshit site. That is a patently false, inaccurate and defaming statement, which I think deserves a retraction, especially as it occurs early enough in the thread as to be disruptive to truth.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:28 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Well at least I've learned how to create an award-winning photo illustration!
posted by moonmilk at 6:42 PM on February 14 [4 favorites]


I don’t know the politics of photography organizations, but this can’t be good.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:12 PM on February 18


I’d be interested in reading more about the blog’s process in digging out reverse images and stock photos, since it doesn’t seem limited to Tin-Eyeing. In the 2/17 update, for instance, the Photo Stealers author sources a distorted and clipped elevator fragment to a promotional photograph. (The obvious answer would be un-distorting the image in photoshop and then going to Tin Eye, but I have no idea if it’s that straightforward.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:24 PM on February 18


If that's how she got the image of an elevator (it does look plausible) I think Saad's manipulation of the image is nearly as remarkable Photo Stealers' identification of it. Her elevator image is mostly composed of a framed image of the back wall of the photographed elevator. Her ceiling is the reflection of the lights on the back wall, and her floor is the lower part of the back wall marked off by a foot rail. By clipping and framing part of the original picture she turned what was effectively a 2d image (a back wall, with a little bit of each side) into one with full perspective. It's totally different, just because she changed its context.

Don't get me wrong: cheated and broke the rules and she deserved to lose, but I think she - and the people who caught her - are amazingly talented.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:19 PM on February 18


Huh. I hadn't followed this closely, but if that's a typical example, not much of the work/art involved actually comes from the original photo? If the rules were that you had to take the base photo, even if you were just basically using it as textures to assemble something new, then she broke the rules, but it seems odd to class it as photo-stealing in the normal sense. I mean, Richard Prince's made a lot of money using other people's photos with minimal to no transformation involved, and the art world has mostly been 'so genius'!
posted by tavella at 6:42 PM on February 18


There's two different issued highlighted. She pretty unambiguously stole someone else's photo and manipulated the textures at least once - that is what originally drew attention to her work. When people started to dig into her work more, they found instances of taking clip art or other online references, which is not necessarily theft depending on the source license but appears to be against the rules of the competitions they were entered in to.
posted by muddgirl at 6:47 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


but if that's a typical example

Not so much. "Her mother’s" bonsai tree was just a silhouette with a few branches removed.

There are one or two other thefts that she used cleverly but for the most part they were tweaked only minorly.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:40 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


IMHO, if photoshop is used for anything more than, let's say 3% of the final composition, then it becomes a work of image manipulation, not a photograph. I don't get these artsy fartsy contests where a work is both and neither. if I want to see good photos, I will look at NatGeo. If I want to see clever photoshops, I will go to B3ta. A picture is either shopped or it isn't. If a contest allows photoshop, then it becomes a photoshop contest, not a photography contest. If the artist didn't play by the rules, then she gets disqualified, but that still doesn't make it photography Qua photography.

(And you kids get off my lawn.)
posted by ambulocetus at 5:08 AM on February 21


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