While imitation might be a form of flattery, plagiarism is simply stealing and it can’t be tolerated. Award-winning photographer Souvid Datta has been accused of stealing from another acclaimed photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, and the evidence is overwhelming.
As Shreya Bhat of Bangalore, India, has pointed out, there is something off and unnatural in one of Datta’s shots from his series “In the Shadows of Kolkata”, depicting the cycle of sexual violence among adults and children in Sonagachi, Kolkata, India (which is one of the largest red light districts in all South Asia).
This is what Datta wrote when he uploaded the photo to Scribbler: “Radhika, 17, in the room of a veteran sex worker, Asma, in Sonagachi (featured dressing in background). The two have grown close over Radhika’s period here; she respects and learns from Asma’s experience and matter of fact, survival attitude, while Asma feels a fondness for Radhika’s unfettered ‘kindness, curiosity’ and innocence. Strong bonds can often form within brothels as girls learn to support each other and find self-empowerment through group assertion and collective experience.”
“Something was strange and it honestly did not take me long to figure that a part of the image had been Photoshopped out of Mary Ellen Mark’s work,” Bhat tells PetaPixel. “You can see for yourself how neatly (or not) he has managed to pick the lady in the backdrop off Mary’s legendary work and claimed it as a part of his own composition.”
After the news went public, Souvid Datta has taken down his website, Facebook, and Twitter. During the last couple of years, he has won the PDN 30, the Pulitzer Centre Grant, Getty Grant for Editorial Photography, Magnum Photos 30 Under 30 Award, and other competitions. He should feel bad not only for stealing, but for that terrible Photoshop job as well.
Do these images look alike to you?
Photographer Souvid Datta has won numerous photography competitions, but now he’s caught up in a plagiarism scandal because of this picture
Image credits: Souvid Datta
It bears more than a striking resemblance to a shot of Indian transvestites taken by legendary photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark in 1978
Image credits: Mary Ellen Mark
Here’s a side by side comparison, left image flipped
Datta claimed that the person in the background is “a veteran sex worker, Asma”
Here’s a comparison with Datta’s photo flipped horizontally and auto-aligned with Mark’s in Photoshop, opacity at 50 percent
It does look pretty similar, huh?
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