Some cute animals photos may have not-so-cute backstories



Finally, the horrible truth about BB’s manipulative “Unicorn Chaser” is coming out!


One time I tried to take some macro photos of common ants in the park. Guilty as charged, I tried to manipulate them by dropping some trail mix. I was hoping they would eat it and stay still near it long enough to get a shot off. The results weren’t even that great. That’s no rock, it’s a peanut.


But yeah, it never even crossed my mind to do anything like what this guy is doing because I’m not a sicko. On the one hand it’s upsetting that anyone is doing this. On the other hand it’s reassuring to know that the reason I can’t get photos like that is because I’m not evil.

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The article is pretty sad.

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Not digging the way he only picks on people from Indonesia. This stuff most assuredly happens everywhere in the world, and yet the blog post author seems to go out of his way to dig up photographers from one small region.

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  1. the author seems to think it is a predominantly Indonesian issue: “There have been a lot of posed animal photos that crop out on the internet, and most of them are the works of Indonesian photographers.”

  2. He thinks these photogs are in the minority: “I believe these are just a minority amongst the Indonesian photographers”

  3. Implicates his own country as well: “There’re also(posed) photographers like these in China”

Not digging the way you pick on the article. You seem to go out of your way to dig up issues that are addressed within the article.


Agreed, and it’s best not to always assume the worst, the only pictures in there that bothered me were the ones where the frogs and lizards were kind of tethered up, and we really don’t know what happened afterwards (maybe they got lots of love and noms and they were beloved pets). I didn’t like the dishonesty either, but I’m starting to see that as a product of a system that gives financial rewards and creates that temptation.

One positive takeaway is I do tend to enjoy the people who seem to really love the critters they work with, especially if I can see their whole process in action. People like Nicky Bay spring to mind immediately.

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This is an issue with Indonesian photographers, but the article has been translated and presented by an ethnically chinese Malaysian photographer in order to further debate about ethics in the region.

Photographers in tropical South East Asia have a great deal of access to exotic and photogenic wildlife, so this style of photography is very very popular locally. A lot of the species are little known in the West, and photographs with unusual animals do well in competitions. Indonesia has by far the largest population in the region. Indonesia has a surprisingly large and prosperous middle class that are strong adherents to the ‘cult’ of photography. Indonesia has poorly enforced laws around traffic in endangered species.

As a result, there are a lot of Indonesian photographers entering these sort of photographs in competitions. Other countries are not immune from the phenomenon, as any brief perusal of photography forums in the region will demonstrate. But at the same time it is not unfair to subject the photos of Indonesian photographers to tighter scrutiny. Singaporean and Malaysian photographers understand that some of their own are also part of the issue.

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Now we’re going to have to say “Shopped!” when we see animal pictures too. This is so depressing. Makes you wonder how much about the world that you think is true really isn’t.

Oh! One thought crossed my mind.

In the article, the author jumps around between phyla, which does involve a couple of broad strokes that might give the wrong impression. For example the author speaks of the spider as if there was cruel treatment, where that’s not quite the same world. I mean, I LOVE my jumping spiders and the one link I did post here (Nicky Bay’s site) is all about arthropods and I marvel at them, but occasionally a photographer gets a sad voice from a scientist when they discover something interesting and just photograph it rather than ‘taking a sample’.

I think the real lesson here is ‘financial motivations rather than intrinsic ones are bad overall’, and it’s best to understand the behaviors of the creatures themselves before rushing to judgement one way or another.

That being said, while the frog one was a bit cute, in general those shots are kind of sub-par compared to the stuff you get from the ones who it for love of the little critters.

Thanks for the context.

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