One of my favorite wedding photographers, Jonas Peterson, has been at the center of an online maelstrom in the past few days.
If you haven’t heard the story, here are the Cliffs Notes: Peterson won the Australian Institute of Professional Photography Queensland’s Photographer of the Year Competition on Monday. Tuesday, the award was revoked because AIPP claimed the couple in the images were not actually getting married, but rather actors playing the part. As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, the couple were actors, but they were actually getting hitched to each other. Plus, the organization accused Peterson of manipulating the image past what the rules allowed—also untrue. The kicker: this was all done publicly on Facebook, no one having checked with Peterson before posting the accusations.
Long story short, the AIPP apologized to Peterson (albeit spelling his name wrong on Facebook), but he was still disqualified because the image was taken in 2010, “about six months outside the two-year cut-off date specified in the competition’s rules,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
I emailed Peterson yesterday afternoon to ask how he was holding up (he said people have been tremendously supportive), and what lesson, if any, can fellow photographers can learn here? While a large part of him feels sorry and embarrassed for the organization that accused him, he said he was the most surprised by how much attention the matter has received online.
“I guess the lesson is to be very, very careful when it comes to what you say online,” Peterson wrote in an email. “The AIPP has now learned that the hard way and I feel for them, I really do. But photographers should also look at this and learn something. So often do we see photographers complaining about clients on semi-private forums. What you write online can be screen grabbed and sent anywhere, and often is. This is just another example of that. Always, always act in a professional way when dealing with business matters online. It’s common sense. Or at least it should be.”
A wise reminder we can all use, in every area of business.