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Panos Pictures response to Ramin Talaie’s allegations regarding Hossein Fatemi’s Iranian Journey project

We have worked with Hossein Fatemi since 2010. As with all Panos photographers, our relationship is based on trust: trust that their photographs are obtained in an ethical manner, and that the events they photograph are real and not invented or constructed. Any information we receive that suggests otherwise we treat with the utmost seriousness.

This is not the first time we have received allegations against Hossein Fatemi. These have ranged from rumours and anonymous e-mails to being approached directly by other photographers. On every occasion we have immediately investigated but never found any substance to the allegations or reason to take further action. The fact that Hossein continues to be represented by Panos does not in any way indicate a lack of concern or action on our part.

It has been difficult to disentangle fact from fiction in a community which is “rife with personal animosities and resentments” (from the in World Press Photo Foundation technical report 2017, p. 18, referring to a statement by Ramin Talaie) and whose personal conflicts have been played out in public.

The first correspondence we received registering a complaint about this project was in December 2013 (see e-mail copied in Talaie’s Medium post). It requested that we remove a photograph from our archive and we complied straight away. This is the only time that an individual portrayed in Hossein’s work has ever asked us to remove their photograph.

All the other allegations in Talaie’s Medium post fall into two categories: plagiarising and the staging of photographs.

• Plagiarising. It is alleged that Hossein deliberately copied the work of other photographers who were working on similar stories. It is not unusual for photographers to work together on stories and to photograph in the same location at the same time – one could find thousands of examples of this – and there has never been any attempt on Hossein’s part to suggest otherwise.

• Staging. Allegations have been made about the staging of a number of photographs. As we understand it none of these situations was set up or arranged by or for Hossein. Each one was planned before his involvement and in every case the people in the photographs were fully aware of his presence. Obtaining access is often part of a photojournalist’s job and we have no reason to believe that Hossein staged any of these photographs.

We have always been assured by Hossein’s explanations, and investigations by World Press Photo Foundation and many others (including those that have published the work) corroborate his position. The response from the World Press Photo Foundation is to be found online (https://medium.com/@lars_wpphf/a-formal-response-from-the-world-press-photo-foundation-ff5094b38cb7#.bw2qtq360) and we invite people to read it.

Panos has been respected for its integrity for the past 30 years and will continue to support concerned and ethical photojournalism.

Adrian Evans
Director, Panos Pictures


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