A stuffed anteater is at the center of a huge nature photography scandal


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/03/a-stuffed-anteater-is-at-the-c.html


I was all aardvark, and then not so much.


having not RTFA, is there anything in the rules that says that the subject of submitted ‘nature photography’ has to be alive (or, more specifically, alive when the photo was taken)?

Hmm. Thinking through the implications of that question suggests an answer: probably not, because that would rule out photos of dead animals (d’uh). I guess what has folks panties in a bunch here is the implied deception; the photographer is passing off the photo as if it’s a live animal doing natural things, when it’s a dead animal that’s been artfully and photogenicly posed which would considerably simplify the compositional problems associated with photographing actual - living - wild animals. Maybe?


Yes, there have been similar disputes about staged images, which is seen as akin to making up a source for photojournalists:


Two variants of the photo exist: one showing cannonballs on the side of the road, and the other with the cannonballs seemingly strategically and more dramatically scattered across the road (the Library of Congress has only the latter photo, but the two can be seen together in a blog post from the Harry Ransom Center).

An assertion by Susan Sontag, among others, captured the interest of writer and filmmaker Errol Morris. Sontag maintained that Fenton staged the photograph, artfully scattering cannonballs that had formerly been on the edge of the road. Morris wondered if that was really the sequence of events, and he sought to determine which of the two photographs had been taken first. He recounts his conversations with photo historians as well as his own attempt to recreate the photograph, taking into account patterns of light and shadow. His wide-ranging essay, “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?” is a tour de force in conveying the lengths to which he went in an effort to establish the factual: precisely when, why and how a photograph was made, while also highlighting the philosophical: how we look at and understand photographs.

From two photographs, so much to question, explore and understand! What questions would you ask of the Roger Fenton photographs?


One common thread between a lot of wildlife photography contests I’ve participated in is restrictions against staging or “misrepresenting” a scene, (although different contests have different specifics with regards to what that actually constitutes, but it generally includes staging a scene, baiting or trapping wildlife and photo editing beyond normal optimization.)

The SPECIFIC contest in question is run by the NHM of London, and very plainly lays out the rules in this regard:

(5) Entrants are not permitted to submit images that:
(i) feature farm animals, family pets, and/or cultivated plants;
(ii) portray captive or restrained animals, animal models, and/or any other animal being exploited for profit unless for the purposes of reporting on a specific issue regarding the treatment of animals by a third party;
(iii) have been captured using live bait;

It being a stuffed anteater, that would fall under the category of Animal Model


I’d also say “Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange should be added to the photojournalism pile of interest. If you see the other photographs from the day you can see why the chosen image made the cut. Obviously that photo told a particular story and paints a bleak and unhopeful time.
Yet I’ve seen the images of her family since; she survived and flourished, as did her daughters, but that doesn’t take away the power of that initial iconic image.
Was it staged? No. But it was selected, carefully.
Did Fenton stage his Crimea shot? I’m on the ‘don’t know’ side, but he did have an agenda.

The anteater photograph was staged, but does that make it fake? If the intention is to inform and not to deceive, how is that different to cropping and editing and retouching later?
I would argue differently if it were news, a photograph of fact, but of a narrative I think the line can take a little blurring.


Not necessarily. The overall winner of the contest was a photograph of a dead rhino, poached for its horn. It’s pretty graphic.


Yeah but check out this incredible close-up shot he got while on safari:


Did you find this or just put it together?


Stop the capitalistic exploitation of animals by human photographers! The only acceptable wildlife photo is that taken by the animal itself! Stop the boujie oppression!



Are you suggesting I would tarnish the sanctity of this forum by submitting digitally manipulated images? You wound me sir.


I was going to say if you made it: “Bravo”.


So…are you going to show us the funniest and/or weirdest wildlife photo you’ve got?




For the record, I never claimed to have any funny or weird ones





That was a good read. Thank you.


I wouldn’t if I were you
I know what she can do
She’s deadly man
She could really rip your world apart
Mind over matter
Ooh, the beauty is there
But a beast is in the heart

Oh, here she comes
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
Oh, here she comes
She’s an anteater
Oh, here she comes
Watch out boy
She’ll chew you up
Oh, here she comes
She’s an anteater


When you said “stuffed anteater” I was thinking “ate a lot of ants.”


The daytime anteater looks a little blue and gold to me