World Press Photo Investigating Recent “Artificial” Plagiarism Claims

There’s a new development in the accusations of plagiarism made against World Press Photo nominee and German photojournalist, Maximilian Mann.

DOCKS, a photography collective made up of five documentary photographers, has published a report on the recent accusations made against Maximilian Mann’s WPP (World Press Photo) entry. As reported on The Phoblographer, Iranian Photojournalist, Solmaz Daryani, claimed that Mann had purposefully plagiarized her work. However, after DOCKS investigated the matter, new information shows it would have been impossible for Mann to have directly copied the work of Daryani.

The Plot Thickens

Both Daryani and Mann had carried out photojournalism work at Lake Urmia, Iran. Daryani started her series, Eyes of The Earth, several years before Mann started his series, Fading Flamingoes. Both photographers have a huge collection of photographs in each series, and some of the images are either extremely similar or almost identical. After Daryani raised her concerns, World Press Photo decided to investigate the matter, and we are still waiting to receive the conclusion of the investigation. However, DOCKS, which Mann is a member of, received information stating that it may be possible Daryani had manufactured her claims of plagiarism.

In the report published on the DOCKS website, it reads:

“…we received a tip-off by someone familiar with Daryani’s work saying that the pictures that were used in the accusations had not yet been published on her website on February 20, 2020. This is where we started our investigation.”

– DOCKS

As part of its investigation, the collective used a program called Wayback Machine. The software records multiple versions of a website and allows you to see older versions from the past. The report states: “Through the Wayback Machine archive, the old website (Daryani’s) can be accessed at two different points in time: April 28, 2019 and October 8, 2019.” DOCKS states that on both previous versions of Daryani’s website, none of the images she used as part her plagiarism claim had been published publicly, thus making it impossible for Mann to know they existed. Mann completed his own series in January, 2019.

Digging deeper, DOCKS went through a list of publications that had featured Dariyani’s series. The collective says nine of the images used as part of the plagiarism claim couldn’t be found anywhere online, reinforcing the assertion that Mann couldn’t have known any of the images existed.

Demanding an Apology

In conclusion, the statement on DOCKS website says:

“We are appalled that a talented and respected photographer like Solmaz Daryani, retrospectively searched for previously unpublished photos in her archive in order to publicly accuse a colleague of having reproduced these unknown images.”

“…Unfortunately, we have to assume that the accusations were constructed retrospectively and were intentionally aimed at discrediting Maximilian Mann. Therefore we expect a public apology from Solmaz Daryani…””We are appalled that a talented and respected photographer like Solmaz Daryani, retrospectively searched for previously unpublished photos in her archive in order to publicly accuse a colleague of having reproduced these unknown images.”

The Phoblographer reached out to Daryani for comment but is yet to receive a response.

Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host of professional photographers within the industry.