Giovanni Troilo, an Italian professional photographer and one of the winners of the World Press Photo contest, was stripped of his award yesterday after an investigation found that he had misrepresented the location where one of the pictures was taken.
Troilo had won the first prize in the Contemporary Issue category, which awards pictures that raise awareness on a social issues, like prostitution, drugs or poverty.
He had presented a selection of 12 pictures on Charleroi, a Belgian city that in the past was known for its crime and prostitution.
The mayor of Charleroi was, unsurprisingly, angered by the pictures which portrayed his town in a negative light. Rumours of a potential disqualification started flowing last week after the mayor accused Troilo of staging some of his pictures, but the organisation wanted to conduct a full investigation before proceeding with any disciplinary measure. While the mayor accused Troilo of staging the pictures, the jury actually found he took the shot in a different location. Since the picture was not taken in Charleroi, presenting it as part of a project on Charleroi was in breech of the award’s code of conduct.
About 20% of the contest’s photos are disqualified for staging, according to The New York Times.
The investigation discovered that one of the pictures was instead taken in Molenbeek, a borough in Brussels about 60 km (37 miles) away from Charleroi. Troilo later confirmed the photo was taken at a different location.
You can see the disqualified photo, portraying a painter and several models during an orgy, on Troilo’s website. (It’s not safe for work.)
Following the investigation, World Press Photo decided to disqualify the story.
Following the disqualification, World Press Photo awarded the first prize in contemporary issue to another Italian photographer, Giulio Di Sturco.
The managing director of World Press Photo, Lars Boering, said, “The World Press Photo Contest must be based on trust in the photographers who enter their work and in their professional ethics. We have checks and controls in place, of course, but the contest simply does not work without trust.
“We now have a clear case of misleading information and this changes the way the story is perceived. A rule has now been broken and a line has been crossed ,” he said.
Troilo gave his version of the story to the Italian newspaper Repubblica: “My work is neither reportage nor an investigation. It did not compete in the ‘news’ category but in ‘contemporary issues.’ […] It’s a point of view, it’s my vision of Charleroi as a place that symbolises the darker and hidden aspects of Europe.”
It is not the first time that a professional photo-journalist is caught manipulating one of his work. In January last year, the Associated Press fired one of its most successful collaborators after he was caught Photoshopping a weapon out of a picture he took in Syria.
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