Saturday 24 August 2013

Staged 'Wildlife' Images in the National Press

The national and international press are always on the look-out for eye-catching and unusual images and in recent months they have printed a large number of images of 'wildlife' in 'humorous' poses. The image below of the frog sheltering from the rain under a leaf is a good example. It seems to have been reproduced everywhere from the Guardian to the Daily Mail to the Huffington Post.

Photographer: Penkdix Palme

Anyone with any experience of wildlife and photography would know this is a highly staged image, despite the photographer's claim that he observed the frog sheltering from the rain in this manner for 30 minutes. This frog does not want to be there and it is not in good condition. The leaf doesn't match the aloe vera stem that it's sat on, the rain is too even and is either coming from a hosepipe/watering can or may even have been added in post processing and, to top it all, the photographer even has other images of frogs sheltering under different leaves. So it is very sad to see so many picture editors paying this photographer for this horribly fraudulent image. 

There have been many other recent examples and, for some reason, many are the work of Indonesian photographers. I was very pleased to see the blog post below exposing some of these images: 

Increasingly the reality behind these images is being exposed and so I can only hope that picture editors and news agencies will start to ask a few more questions and to remember the maxim that if a photo seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Edit: A few more examples to illustrate my point. All showing totally unnatural, staged behaviour.

the common themes in these 3 images are the Daily Mail, Indonesian photographers and animals balanced on top of other animals. However, a final example breaks that first common theme but not the other two. It's featured in the Daily Telegraph's news pictures of the year 2013. Yes, really.

note the mention of the 'rare moment' captured by the photographer. 

The only question I have is whether picture editors are themselves very naive and gullible and genuinely believe these images are natural, or whether they know damn well that these images are staged but are working on the assumption that most readers are naive and gullible. 


  1. Good post Matt. Its a real shame that the UK press only seem to be interested in these sorts of shots. Totally incompatible with the whole Raison d'ĂȘtre of wildlife photography. Again animals being exploited by man for a quick buck. Appalling, but not surprising unfortunately.

  2. Thanks Paul and I couldn't agree more.