Fake photos? Fake awards? Stolen blog posts?
How do you know that you're not about to hire a clown?
As a photographer I'm probably way more aware of the use of my images and where they might end up. I've even been used as a case study by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to highlight how important it is to keep your work your own.
A while back I had a run-in with another photographer. In this case I called him out on Facebook because he was caught in an Instagram photo not being particularly professional and I made sure he knew my opinion.
I received a call the same day from him, and amongst other things called me he said he was 'happy to see that I've not stolen any of his work' and put it on my site.
The irony of his last comment to me became very apparent.
I was telling the story to one of my clients who is a fellow geek, and together we began to look at his website. Incredibly we discovered MOST of his work wasn't actually his. There's a very easy way to find this out too and most people don't know about it.
It's really easy to do this - anyone can do it and I recommend you do too. Especially if you're hiring someone and want to check them out. It's called a reverse image search.
Just visit images.google.com and click the little camera icon. You can then paste in a URL or load up the photo. Screen shots of the photo also work.
Google then shows you where on the web the images appear. Try it - you might be surprised.
So after spending a little time looking through 'Monsieur Fakers' photo site it was quite the revelation. There were loads of images showing events, food, weddings - the lot - all photos that someone else had taken and he was 'passing off' as his own.
Turns out that some of the images are actually stock photo images. He may well have bought the licence to use them - perhaps with good intent, but the rules are that you can't use them and pretend they are your shots. That's surely pretty obvious to anyone. Another photographer has taken that image and, well, you're stealing it. There's no really any other way of saying it.
He has e-brochures made up of images that he never took. Not unless he was working in America using a different name. Some shots were found on a dentistry website.
Photos in his wedding album - not his, cropped and adjusted to make them look like they are different.
As if stealing images and pretending to perspective clients wasn't bad enough - 'El-cheato' has actually taken the liberty of adding brands and logos to these photos. One photo is a picture of some prawns on a grill - an image from istockphoto which perhaps he bought - but then he's slapped on the logo of a premium restaurant chain. Another of some tacos - the same shot appears in thousands of hits online - not his work but it appears to the unsuspecting client that he's been working for a well known restaurant chain.
He's pretending that these people are his clients - and furthermore this is the image he took.
On the other hand - he may well have this restaurant chain as a client but then he's providing them with a stock image and inferring that it's his. Imagine the client finding out they've been duped.
It's depressingly funny that to sell his work he's not only using another photographer's image but also adding someone else's logo to it. I'm no lawyer but I'd hedge my bets this isn't completely legal.
Oh - also throw in the use of the Canon logo - on a page with the caption 'sponsored by Canon'. Sure he is. Canon would be delighted to sponsor his 'work'. I think he means 'I have Canon cameras' but in this twisted perception he's therefore in some way a Canon Ambassador.
It's rife. He has an image taken from the Radio Times - and a reverse image search shows he original image date and the embedded data in the file referring back to the photographer who took it. It's theft. No other way around it. A shot of Glastonbury advertising he does aerial work in his 2015 brochure? The photo was found via Google reverse image search in The Telegraph. From 2012.
'Award Winning photography' claims the site. I hope none of those awards are for photos that he never took. If they are 'real' awards - do the judges know that some of his business is made up of lies and image theft?
In a further development - it turns out that most of his blog posts - and those on LinkedIn are also totally plagiarised. Just googling a couple of sentences show that he's just stolen the text from somewhere else!
Unbelievable isn't it - what's more unbelievable is that he's still getting work. Why can't clients see through this veil of lies fakery?
Oh - and it seems that one of his 'awards' doesn't exist. A few of us have done some checking up and there is NO evidence these awards exist. Ordinarily it might be an oversight on our part or lack of checking - but with all the other evidence against him stacked high up - it does seem to be a fake award. He has gone to the trouble of creating a logo etc - for an award that not only he didn't get but doesn't exist.
His office, well that's a mailboxes inc address. Oddly enough he's not in a prime London location. Shots of his office are.. well, yes you've guessed it - fake. His logo is actually photoshopped onto hanging signs and posters.
So when you're next looking to hire someone. Spending 5 or 10 mins can spare you a barrel of pain and hurt.
Always ensure you are getting who you think you are getting.
Oh - and the photo at the top of this article?
It's mine ;)