Capturing a potentially award-winning shot should arguably mean that you were the only photographer there—at that place, at that angle, and at that time—in order to take that truly mindblowing image.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
The Herald Sun’s David Caird was in contention for the Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year award as a finalist, when a fellow photographer who just happened to shoot the same scene noticed differences between Caird’s version of the photograph and his own.
Supposedly, there was originally a piece of straw that Caird had cloned out in post-processing. While this did not change the interpretation of the photograph, the competition’s rules did explicitly state that:
The other photographer duly notified the judges that the image, which was of the baby gorilla Kimye from the Melbourne zoo, had been altered, and Caird voluntarily withdrew the image.
Louisa Graham, the acting chief executive of the Walkley Foundation, told the Guardian:
Many other photographers protested Caird’s withdrawal, making it known that they felt a simple cloning procedure wasn’t that serious an example of post-processing.
Still, rules are rules. Graham defended her decision, saying:
Caird is still one of three nominees for the 2015 Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year award, and the winner will be announcd on December 3rd at the 60th Walkley Awards. So it’s not all lost for him yet.