A undeniably handsome, 32-year-old, Brazilian photographer who survived leukemia photographed war zones throughout the Middle East to bring news outlets images of the unfolding stories. He captured emotions on faces that showed the many horrors of war. His name is Eduardo Martins and he has 120,000 followers on Instagram and sold images to Vice, Le Monde, the Wall Street Journal, Getty Images, and the BBC. The only problem is- Eduardo Martins fabricated this entire persona and stole images from various photographers working in the region. Martins stole the handsome face of British surfer Max Hepworth-Povey and passed them as himself.
Obviously, Hepworth-Povey’s face wasn’t the only thing that Martins stole. He swiped photographs from many photographers and re-worked them to make it less detectable that they weren’t his. It wasn’t until BBC journalist Natasha Ribeiro became suspicious of Martins’ life story and decided to quietly reach out to the Brazilian journalist community. She spoke to Brazilian journalists in Iraq and NGOs that Martins claimed to be a part of and came back empty-handed. No one had met him.
Since the news has broken that he was a fraud, shockwaves have been felt throughout the media. How could such a fraud fool the likes of Le Monde and the BBC? How can the photo community better protect their images from being stolen and photoshopped and re-sold to news outlets? How can there be better accountability in a world full of freelancers?
A spokesperson for Getty Images responded, “Eduardo Martins … was identified as a collaborator and content supplier for one of our partners who has already been notified about this infraction. While we work together with all our internal departments to urgently clarify this issue, we are removing all the material involved from the air.”
As Getty removes Martins’ stolen images, one hopes that they are also strategizing on how to prevent such fraud from rising to the top tier of photojournalism. In the age of fake news, the media needs to have safeguards in place to protect the legitimacy of real journalism and the sacrifice that journalists make on a daily basis.
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