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The winning photographs in a French photojournalism contest were hoaxes contrived by two students. The photographs were said to show struggling youth. The blog HorseThink published one of the fake images, along with the fake caption: "I have been in conflict with my family since I was 16. Even if I don’t have a scholarship nor parental assistance, I have always fended for myself.Armin, 23, Master of Sociology." The truth was all the supposedly distressed youths were fellow art students who posed for staged images.

Chase Jarvis Blog reports that on June 24, “Two French students were awarded the annual Grand Prix du Photoreportage Etudiant last week to honor a photographic story that presented images documenting the precarious lives of students today and the things they must do in order to survive and succeed. The only catch is that the entire story was a fake.”

Guillaume Chauvin and Remi Huberr, enrolled as art students at Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs of Strasbourg, showed up at the awards ceremony only to announce their hoax. Chase Jarvis Blog writes, “The images were not photojournalism but staged images featuring many of their peers. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in that auditorium. Ouch.”

HorseThink blog reports the students supposedly “presented images documenting the precarious lives of students today and the things they must do to survive.” However, behind the scenes they had planned since 2008 to make a hoax as a protest against usual contest entries who Chauvin, one of the two students hoaxers told Le Figaro, typically “seemed more like vacation photographs as opposed to photojournalism. The photographs depicted small children with big wet eyes in order to illustrate the misery abroad.”

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Le Figaro, according to HorseThink, also quotes Chauvin explaining that they “wanted to enter the contest in order to show the codes used too often in photojournalism and to prove that something real could be translated into something staged.”

The British Journal of Photography reports Le Monde newspaper quotes the students saying they were surprised their hoax images won.

The distinguished prize’s award was “€5,000 and ten pages in Paris Match,” BJP said. “However, terms and conditions,” they continue, “don’t forbid faked reportages – a situation that is likely to change next year. Already, Paris Match has withdrawn its cash prize, offering it, instead, to the two students’ university of decorative arts in Strasbourg. The weekly magazine, which is now warning readers that the images have been faked, has also announced that next year’s cash prize will be increased to €10,000 as a result of this year’s ‘fraud’.”

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Students hoax Paris-Match photojournalism contest with fake images

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