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Photographer Caught Photoshopping His Photos From Stock Pictures, Denies Everything Until He’s Totally Exposed
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Animals, Photography7 months ago

Photographer Caught Photoshopping His Photos From Stock Pictures, Denies Everything Until He’s Totally Exposed

Let’s get this out of the way: there’s nothing wrong with a photomontage. However, when someone is digitally manipulating other people’s work to pass off as their own and using it to advertise to potential clients, there’s a huge problem. And it looks like Ben Sheehan, a pet and animal photographer from Auckland, New Zealand, was doing exactly that.

Photo Stealers, an online “wall of shame” that exposes thieves in the industry, called out Sheehan after he started blocking those who were trying to expose him on social media.

“I had multiple submissions to me after a fellow photographer had suspicions and confirmed that his recent award-winning image was a stock image,” the person behind Photo Stealers told Fashion Life. “I dug in more when messaged and many of his images had elements that didn’t seem right (lighting, shadows [and other things] didn’t match up). After making the initial post with all of the images I had found so far, I found even more when local photographers pointed out the locations he used that did not permit dogs.”

More info: Instagram

Pet photographer Ben Sheehan posted quite a few stunning shots on his social media accounts where he advertises to potential customers

Image credits: Photostealers

He explicitly said that the photos are real

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Photo Stealers highlighted that Sheehan’s story was similar to the 2019 controversy surrounding Lisa Saad, who used others’ photos without credit in composites that helped her win numerous international awards as well as become ambassadors for brands such as Ilford, Manfrotto, Epson, and Tamron.

While Sheehan’s dirty business hasn’t gotten him that far, he too entered competitions using lies and deception.

One of his most impressive shots even made it to the 2021 International Dog Photography Awards

Image credits: Photostealers

In fact, he was a finalist in the 2021 Dog Photography Awards (his entry has since been revoked), and he has won numerous prizes in GuruShots contests.

Sheehan’s submission to the Dog Photography Awards was created using a Getty Images photo of a waterfall in New Zealand as the template for the background.

Unfortunately, stunts like this are somewhat regular. “It’s not always the case but it’s very common for a photographer who has used parts of images or entire images they did not create themselves to make up stories about the image in question,” the founder of Photo Stealers explained. “Photographers I featured before have entire elaborate stories about how they were at the place they were not, how they captured the image they did not and/or about the subjects in said photo. I once had a photographer who stole an image of an infant post a story alongside it about how the child had passed away. The real child was very much alive.”

Image credits: Photostealers

But it looks like Ben didn’t actually take that picture

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

The same can be said about other Ben’s uploads too

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

It looks like he repeatedly lied to people

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

While stealing from stock photographers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Sheehan enjoyed the attention that these images got

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

And continued doing the same

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

But eventually, people found out

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

And Sheehan ended up on Photo Stealers, an online “wall of shame” which exposes photographers who share others’ work as their own

Image credits: Photostealers

Image credits: Photostealers

In response, the photographer took down his Facebook page and deleted the manipulated images from his other personal profiles on the internet

Image credits: Photostealers

Fashion Life has reached out to Sheehan for comment

Image credits: Photostealers

Talking to PetaPixel, Sheehan admitted that he had been passing off composite photos as fully his own but added that all the images he used were properly licensed and paid for.

“[M]y apologies, learned a life lesson,” he said. “But, no photos were stolen, I paid for and have property releases for every picture I’ve used. Including for compositing.”

The photographer also said that he is now on the receiving end of a photographer mob trying to execute vigilante justice over his faked photos.

“[Photo Stealers] followers have tried to ruin my business, abused me endlessly, and I have reported 2 of them for death threats,” Sheehan noted. “Not trying to say what I did wasn’t misleading. But I’ve not broken any laws.”

The person hunting photo stealers said that before PetaPixel covered the story, Sheehan maintained he was innocent and his accusers were actually lying. “This is pretty common for photographers who are caught, especially those that go deep with the elaborate stories about the images they ‘photographed.’ He offered to one user to send all the original images. I was surprised to see him finally admit it in the article.”

They also said that Sheehan wronged not only the photography industry but the general public as well. “Many of these locations have very strict rules against dogs in the park due to endangered species and various other reasons. He was asked many times about this and always maintained he’d got permission and/or had to pay for a permit. People were thinking of going there with their own dogs because of the example he set.”

Here’s what people have been saying about what happened

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Hey pandas, what do you think?
Watching
Community Member
7 months ago

I think the scariest thing in our world today is finding out how many people are pathological liars. And think they are going to get away with it. But when they're busted, they're not even embarrassed!

Nona Wolf
Community Member
7 months ago

You just described almost every politician

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JP
Community Member
7 months ago

In all but two of these pictures the light direction is all wrong. In all of the pictures the dog's edges are much too hard to not be pasted on. In all of the pictures the dog is not sized correctly for the environment. I've been a graphic designer for over 20 years, I can Photoshop anything...anyone with graphic design experience could point out everything wrong with these pictures.

Bunzilla
Community Member
7 months ago

One of the most obvious for me, was the dog running along the wet gutter... you'd see some kind of movement with the puddles, but it's all as still as glass! No droplets flying from wet paws. Not to mention that the reflection is all wrong- That's not how reflections work. And.... the angle of the dog looks wrong, as well as the fact that he's just too brightly lit for that scene. So, so fake looking.

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Daniel (ShadowDrakken)
Community Member
7 months ago

How were judges in a photo competition fooled by this crap? Not a single one has the dog lit from the same angle as the environment. There's visible matting around the dog. There's scale problems on most of them. And he even used the exact same dog photo in multiple composites, multiple times!

Rob Woodman
Community Member
7 months ago

Contest judges are morons.

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Watching
Community Member
7 months ago

I think the scariest thing in our world today is finding out how many people are pathological liars. And think they are going to get away with it. But when they're busted, they're not even embarrassed!

Nona Wolf
Community Member
7 months ago

You just described almost every politician

Load More Replies...
JP
Community Member
7 months ago

In all but two of these pictures the light direction is all wrong. In all of the pictures the dog's edges are much too hard to not be pasted on. In all of the pictures the dog is not sized correctly for the environment. I've been a graphic designer for over 20 years, I can Photoshop anything...anyone with graphic design experience could point out everything wrong with these pictures.

Bunzilla
Community Member
7 months ago

One of the most obvious for me, was the dog running along the wet gutter... you'd see some kind of movement with the puddles, but it's all as still as glass! No droplets flying from wet paws. Not to mention that the reflection is all wrong- That's not how reflections work. And.... the angle of the dog looks wrong, as well as the fact that he's just too brightly lit for that scene. So, so fake looking.

Load More Replies...
Daniel (ShadowDrakken)
Community Member
7 months ago

How were judges in a photo competition fooled by this crap? Not a single one has the dog lit from the same angle as the environment. There's visible matting around the dog. There's scale problems on most of them. And he even used the exact same dog photo in multiple composites, multiple times!

Rob Woodman
Community Member
7 months ago

Contest judges are morons.

Load More Replies...
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