'Fake' hammed-up wedding photo real

MEGAN LEVY
Last updated 18:20 22/05/2013
Anthony Harkin and Stephanie Delaney
JONAS PETERSON
REALLY WED: Anthony Harkin and Stephanie Delaney

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The leading organisation representing Australia's professional photographers has apologised to one of its members after accusing him on Facebook of using actors to set up a wedding photograph entered in a competition.

In fact, the newlyweds who featured in the photograph outside Luna Park in Sydney were actors.

You may have seen the bride Stephanie Delaney in Underbelly, or the groom Anthony Harkin in the stage production of Jersey Boys.

But the enamoured couple had genuinely tied the knot and were hamming it up for the camera on their wedding day when photographer Jonas Peterson snapped them in 2010.

And therein lies another problem that has marred this year's Australian Institute of Professional Photography Queensland awards, handed out at a ceremony in Brisbane on Monday night.

The photograph in question was taken in 2010, about six months outside the two-year cut-off date specified in the competition's rules.

Peterson, a Brisbane-based photographer who covers weddings both in Australia and overseas, admits that he had not read the competition rules in their entirety and made a mistake by submitting an old photograph that was not eligible for the awards.

He was stripped of the title of Queensland's Wedding Photographer of the Year on Tuesday, just one day after the ceremony.

What he was not prepared for, he says, were accusations posted on the Australian Institute of Professional Photography's Facebook page on Tuesday night by national president Kylie Lyons that suggested he could have cheated.

Peterson said the post, which has since been removed, suggested he had used actors to stage his photograph. He also was accused of technically manipulating the photograph outside the limitations allowed in the competition, Peterson says.

Neither of those allegations were put to Peterson before being posted publicly on social media, Peterson claims.

The photographic furore was both sad and hilarious at the same time, he said.

"The hilarity of it is that the couple are actors who were getting married, and I wrote about that when I published the photo in 2010," Peterson said.

"Someone obviously read that and then called the AIPP and said I have been cheating because I've been using actors.

"Photographers obviously get very upset when someone is accused of cheating. I had to defend myself. They should have checked with me beforehand."

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After seeing the post on Facebook on Tuesday night, Peterson set the record straight with the AIPP, which then posted an apology on Facebook.

The apology, which misspells Peterson's name, reads: "APOLOGY TO JONAS PETERSEN: Since the original post about the Queensland awards was published, additional clarification has been provided. The infringement that unfortunately solely disqualifies Jonas's entry is the 24 month rule. We unreservedly apologise for any unintended inference that Jonas cheated in his submission that the original post may have suggested . Kylie Lyons. National President."

The offending post has since been removed, but not before the photographic furore generated a lot of debate.

Last night, Peterson posted on Facebook: "How on EARTH did you decide to publish this before checking the facts? It's honestly beyond me."

"Actors get married, who knew..."

On Wednesday, Peterson said it was time to move on and learn from the mistakes that had been made.

"It was a huge mistake, but at the same time mistakes happen. I made a mistake by entering the image, and the national president made another mistake by accusing me of cheating. We're all better than that. We can all move on," he said.

In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday, he wrote: "The AIPP does wonderful things, I've supported it from day one and I will continue to do so.

"There are so many wonderful people volunteering and sacrificing their time, over the weekend i saw them tirelessly working to make the QPPA as fantastic as possible. Let's remember them, not this."

In a statement, the AIPP acknowledged that it had made an incorrect announcement on Facebook about Peterson, who it said was a "highly regarded and extremely talented member".

"Having been given information that one of Jonas's images which helped him win this award, actually breached one of our rules of entry, we contacted Jonas personally to validate this information," the AIPP said.

"Jonas checked his image data and freely admitted that he had made a mistake and therefore was ineligible for the award.

"In our haste to rectify this situation, our President, Kylie Lyons, made a post on the AIPP Facebook page stating that Jonas had been disqualified for breaching the rules of entry.

"Unfortunately the post was inaccurate in that it referred to three rule breaches, when in fact Jonas only made one innocent rule breach. Shortly after making this post, the AIPP realised that it had misrepresented the situation, and consequently deleted the original post and publicly posted an unreserved apply to Jonas, which he has graciously accepted."

-Fairfax Australia

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