View Full Version : Winner of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 disqualified

Sabyasachi Patra
20-01-2010, 07:00 PM
The winner of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009, has been disqualified. The image was made with a captive wolf but the fact was not disclosed. The organisers of the competition investigated after it was brought to their notice. Full text of the statement by the organisers produced below

A statement regarding the image – The storybook wolf, the 2009 overall competition winner

It saddens us to confirm that after a careful and thorough investigation into the image, the storybook wolf, the co-owners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide have disqualified the winning entry of the photographer José Luis Rodríguez. The judging panel was reconvened and concluded that it was likely that the wolf featured in the image was an animal model that can be hired for photographic purposes and, as a result, that the image had been entered in breach of Rule 10 of the 2009 Competition. The judging panel looked at a range of evidence and took specialist advice from panel judges who have extensive experience of photographing wildlife including wolves. They also considered the responses to specific questions put to the photographer José Luis Rodriguez.

The competition rules clearly state that photographs of animal models may not be entered into the competition and that images will be disqualified if they are entered in breach of Rule 10. Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition rules are available to all entrants including versions translated into several languages.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the world’s most prestigious photography competition of its kind. Any transgression of the competition rules is taken very seriously and if entries are suspected of breaching the rules they are disqualified. José Luis Rodríguez’s image will be removed from the exhibition and tour.

Mr Rodriguez strongly denies that the wolf in the image is a model wolf.

The original story can be found here:

Ranbir Mahapatra
21-01-2010, 05:01 AM
From BBC:

His photograph was chosen out of more than 43,000 competition entries in October 2009.
Louise Emerson from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition office explained that the judging panel had been "reconvened" and had concluded that it was likely that the wolf featured in the image was an animal model that could be "hired for photographic purposes".
This, she said, was in breach of the competition rules which are made available to all entrants.
"The judging panel looked at a range of evidence and took specialist advice from panel judges who have extensive experience of photographing wildlife including wolves," continued Ms Emerson.
"They also considered the responses to specific questions put to the photographer."
Wildlife photographer Mark Carwardine was one of the competition judges. He told BBC News that this was the first time in its 46 year history that there would not be a winner.
Mr Carwardine explained that he and his fellow judges had gathered evidence and sought the opinions of wolf experts in order to reach their decision.
The experts compared the winning picture to pictures of Ossian, a tame wolf that lives at a zoological park near Madrid called Canada Real.
"You can see several very distinctive markings and the experts all agreed that, yes, it's the same wolf," said Mr Carwardine.
"We disqualified [Mr Rodriguez] and banned him for life from entering the competition again, so I think that sends a strong message."
Mr Carwardine added that Mr Rodruiguez had, throughout the investigation, denied "hiring" Ossian for the photograph. The disqualified photographer maintains that his subject was a wild wolf.
Mr Rodriguez was not immediately available for comment.

Dipankar Mazumdar
22-01-2010, 11:14 AM
A debate rages on DPREVIEW on what constitutes "wild" (wether the Iberian wolf in question was really WILD) throwing up many interesting arguments:


Meanwhile Andy Rouse has also jumped into the controversy with " what if " theories.

http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/news/Wildlife_photographer_Rouse_on_the_fallout_of_toda ys_model_wolf_revelation_news_294027.html

In my personal opinion, this image aswell as last years image of the snow leopard, both taken by camera traps boders on the definitions of wether such means are truely acceptable.

Rahul Parekh
22-01-2010, 09:10 PM
A good step by BBC to ban the photographer but life ban it too much. Few years of ban is enough to make someone realized the wrong doing and feel guilty....!!!!

There must be other cheaters as well in this BBC Comp. for sure as so many photographers are participating each year with thousands of images, but they are not in limelight b'coz they are not winners...as well as its impossible to identify the credibility of each and every image...

This is matter of self-respect, understanding & mindset. Though ban is eye opener for all. But I still feel one more chance should be given to this photographer after some years. God knows but if he really feels guilty than he will work hard for next time and also give respect to prestigious BBC & other Competitions :) or may be if he is sensitive than with destroyed name & fame at BBC he might stop photography for entire life too and we lost one good wildlife photographer as well!!!

If Photography of captive animals and birds is against the rule than I must say Photography with tracking camera should be included in this list by BBC too...I don't see any involvement of photographer at the time of clicking!!! Manual Clicking and Machine Clicking gives different output as well as tracking camera is developed for research work only......I agree with Dipankar here :)

Last year's Snow Leopard image was also taken with tracking camera and this year's winner image is also taken with same technology (if we keep the rule aside for a while and consider it as wild wolf).

I feel this is disrespect of all the wildlife and nature photographers by BBC who spend hours and days in awful conditions to take one best shot of life.....while selecting the winner image this element should also considered by the judges...

All best wishes,

Cheers, Rahul

Sabyasachi Patra
22-01-2010, 09:28 PM
I agree that images from camera traps, however good they may be, should not be used in the photography competitions. If they want to test the skill level of people in deploying camera traps, then they can create a different category. The remote sensing cameras are getting better and better. I guess soon, some one will enter an image clicked by a remote sensing satellite and win an award.

As far as cheating is concerned, I guess there may be other participants who are not in the limelight, as their images may not be winners. Cheating is done by lot of people in various competitions.

In competitions abroad, they take a strong view and have thrown out the photographers. In India it is a different story. I know of atleast two cases, where the photographers have either won a prize or recognised with a commended status. So cheating is not limited to a particular nationality. It solely rests on the publication or the competition organiser to face it. It is good that BBC and Natural History Museum London took a strong view and made it known to the people. They took a hit as well, because for the first time in 46 years, there is no winner in the competition.

As far as the life ban is concerned, I think it is justified because the photographer never accepted the mistake.