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If the Visa pour l'Image is the temple of photojournalism does that make Jean-Francois Leroy the high priest?

By Helle Maj, journalist and Jørn Stjerneklar, photographer

We have an expression in Danish: ”Who ends up with the monkey?”

You can pass the monkey around if there's a fuck up like the one Patrick Chauvel and Jean-Francois Leroy has made in ”The Temple of Photojournalism” as the French magazine 'Rue89', with a bit of irony (we hope), calls Visa pour l'image.


To give you an idea about monkey business Danish style:

It's a popular sport, especially within politics, in Denmark, to pass the monkey around. When the scandal is exposed a minister starts by giving the monkey to a lower placed civil servant. She gives it to her boss, who passes it back to the minister after a couple of rounds in the ministry. Maybe the minister can find another minister to blame but at a certain stage the monkey will end up at the shoulder of someone for all to see.

So where did the monkey end up in this scandal?

Friday and Saturday, five different media outlets published the story in Vietnamese

Friday, Saturday and Tuesday (yesterday) the Vietnamese media has had interviews with Doan Cong Tinh, the photographer behind the most exposed waterfalls worldwide in the last couple of weeks.

Thanh Nien News
Tuesday the story is out in English from a Vietnamese media

Mr. Doan gives not one or two explanations, but quite a few actually, to different news outlets on how the image ended up the way it did
(you can read some very different accounts here). But in the end Cong says he is very sorry that it has happened and he has learned a lot from his mistake.

So the monkey does not end up in Saigon, Vietnam.

If you look at how things has developed, from last year in September when 'Lens' editor James Estrin grilled Doan Cong Tinh about the picture and was told that it was the real deal from the photographer:

”I asked him step by step how that first photo was taken since it does look like a movie still. He said this was the only way the guides could climb up and it was extremely treacherous. And there was no where else for him to stand than the rock that he was on.... He told me neither was set up.”

Then you have to wonder why Patrick Chauvel never did the same grilling,
before the picture ended up in the "Temple of Photojournalism"?

If he had done so, we are quite sure Doan Cong Tinh would not had let his extremely photoshopped picture find it's way to the world stage.

Cong now claims, that he had forgotten it was on the CD he gave Patrick Chauvel, a CD containing 100 images. That Chauvel had chosen the picture without his knowledge – and never asked how the picture was taken.

In other words, Patrick Chauvel did not even think about asking the same obvious questions James Estrin did.

So should the monkey be placed on Patrick Chauvels shoulder?


But there's another person involved.

If Visa pour l'Image is the ”Temple of Photojournalism”, then Jean-Francois Leroy must be the high priest.

And since he has not come out to say he is sorry for the grave mistake they made, but has only blamed the messenger, we will place the monkey firmly on his shoulders. He was in Vietnam in December 2013 to meet the four photographers, he must have seen Cong's book ' Moments' which has the not so photoshopped picture on page 162.

Leroy was very quick to blame World Press Photo in March this year for their scandal involving Italian photographer Giovanni Troilo and used very strong words against the most prestigious competition among photojournalists. (
read our blog 'ABER WARUM')

Now he is silent when it hits home.

We advice Doan Cong Tinh to do as Mr. Troilo did when the debate around his photographs was at it's highest. To New York Times he said:…
”he didn’t want to become “the scapegoat” for a larger debate about World Press Photo’s standards.”

Cong just has to exchange "World Press Photo" with "Visa pour l'Image".

We have quoted
Thomas Borberg before, photo-chief on Politiken, as an ambassador for the many newspapers Patrick Chauvel has sold the exhibition pictures to, but we'll do it again: "Of course this ought to be cause for reflection in the festival leadership".

But this might never happen.

As the editor of the
Danish Press Photographers Association website, Søren Skarby, writes today: "The question is if Visa pour l'Image after having excluded the World Press Photo exhibition at this years festival because it was discovered some photos had been manipulated, should search it's own heart. Or is it so, that some can manipulate and others cannot? It is not known with certainty and the truth is as we know the first casualty of war."

Among the many comments in Vietnam, there was one very inspiring. Here it is – photoshopped yes, but still.

Skærmbillede 2015-06-14 kl. 17.37.39

Follow up on this blog here

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