The World-Class War Photographer Who Didn’t Really Exist

"Eduardo Martins" had a striking portfolio, but it was all a lie.

September 11, 2017 5:00 am

Eduardo Martins seemed to be the real deal, a talented photojournalist who had a striking portfolio of images from war zones all over the world, documenting refugees in Iraq and Gaza as well as families in Syria. He claimed to be someone who wanted to “show the public the reality of these places” and move viewers to “make a difference,” writes The Washington Post

The Brazilian photographer even accrued bylines with news organization most journalists dream of: Vice, BBC, the Wall Street Journal. He’d also amassed almost 125,000 followers on Instagram, which showed him both traipsing through war-torn countries and jet-setting around the globe during his time off.

It turns out, none of it was real.

For years, someone has been stealing professional photographs, such as those taken by U.S. photojournalist Daniel C. Britt, and calling them his own. A Brazalian BBC correspondent grew skeptical of Martin’s story, and after some digging, she discovered this truth. She found that Martin’s photos were often inverted or changed just enough so that no software would identify the plagiarism, reports the Post. Many of the photographs were also taken in different locations than the captions claimed.

Not even his identity was real. The blue-eyed Martin claimed he was diagnosed with leukemia at 18 and spent seven years in intensive care. He also said he lost his father to liver failure. Even his public face is fake: the man shown in Martin’s Instagram profile is actually a British surfer named Max Hepworth-Povey, reports the Post. 

The real identity behind the imposter is still unknown.

The international photojournalism community is still in shock from Martin’s unmasking, with many of them calling for a full takedown of his published work. BBC Brasil initially published a story about his photography career, but has since removed it and the organization offered an apology. Getty Images has also removed all images credit to Martins, reports The Washington Post. 

Various organizations that Martins claimed to be a member of have denied that he was ever an employee. Editors and photojournalists who had communicated with him now admit they never met him in person. In an era awash with cries of “fake news” the photojournalism profession is aghast at the consequences of this deception and fear it is “one more reason for people to distrust the media,” writes the Post. 

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