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Back in September 2018 OnePlus India held a contest “Shot on OnePlus” where they asked photographers to submit their best photos taken with their OnePlus-branded smartphone.
You know the drill – people across Instagram and the like had to tag their photo with #ShotonOnePlus and then contest judges from the company would pick the winner.
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Photographer Pratyush Yadav won the contest with his photo of a corridor famed for its architecture located at the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun, Uttarakhand in India.
But, as these stories so often go these days, another photographer who had taken a picture of the same location with his Canon DSLR camera noticed that the winning picture was the same as his own.
In fact, Aman Bhargava even posted that photo to his Instagram. The only difference between the two photos was that the winning submission from Yadav was a cropped version of the photograph that Bhargava says he took.
PetaPixel has done an excellent comparison of the two photos that you should check out by clicking here.
Basically, the winning photo is the same photo that Bhargava took. Needless to say, it was not #ShotonOnePlus.
Bhargava then emailed Yadav about the discrepancies between the photos and asked him for the original file so that Bhargava could see Yadav’s EXIF data. Instead Bhargava received his own photo in return with made-up EXIF information that didn’t make sense.
The photographer wrote to Yadav: “You’ve just sent me a copy of my own image,” Bhargava writes. “You’ve done a terrible job at faking the EXIF details too, by the way. The EXIF says that this image was clicked at 2:00 PM, which is in the middle of the afternoon. […] This image was clicked in the evening.”
PetaPixel attempted to get a comment from Yadav and he claims that the photograph that won the contest is his own work and that he cannot explain why the two photos are exactly the same.
“I can’t [explain why the photos are identical],” Yadav tells PetaPixel. “I’ve spent nights comparing both of the pictures. …I’ve only submitted what I’ve clicked and that was clicked with a OnePlus device and not by a Canon DSLR. I’ve compared both of the pictures and I accept the fact that the lighting and the shadows in the pictures perfectly match, including the patches in the background too. …But I’ve submitted the metadata too with pictures, which proves that it was clicked with a OnePlus device.”
Yadav also claims to have witnesses to him taking the picture.
Finally, OnePlus India weighed in with their response which comes down in favor of Bhargava and paints Yadav in an somewhat unflattering light:
We are of the honest opinion that the contest winner (@thatlonetraveller) of the World Photography Day Contest may have indulged in malpractice that may have potentially involved a violation of Mr. Aman Bhargava’s intellectual property and such acts once proven are a punishable offense under the law of the land.
We are appalled that such an incident has happened and understand the ordeal you as an artist had to go through. We would like to state that we did all possible measures to ensure all terms and conditions for the contest were followed. Particularly for this case, it was mandatory for the photo to be shot on a OnePlus device. When we received all the photos and examined their EXIF details, we found no discrepancies. Hence, all photos met the criteria and we assure you that we have not been negligent in assessing the same.
The former winner has reportedly had to return the $600 prize money to OnePlus India while the company looks into the matter further. Curiously, as PetaPixel highlights, the company still has Yadav’s photo up as the winning image.