Photographer ‘Devastated’ After Her Unsplash Photo Was Used in ‘Crass’ UK Ad Campaign

by admin October 18, 2020 at 7:48 am

Atlanta photographer Krys Alex is speaking out after a portrait she took and posted to Unsplash was used in a controversial UK ad campaign. The government campaign has been widely criticized for discouraging and devaluing artists, and Alex says she’s “devastated” that her photo was at its core.

First, some context. The ‘Cyber First’ ad in question—tagline “Rething. Reskill. Reboot”—is part of a UK Government campaign that encourages people to consider retraining and starting a new career “in cyber.” So far, no harm done. However, the campaign drew a firestorm of criticism after one of the ads—a photo of a young dancer they named “Fatima”—went viral on Twitter on October 12th.

It was first brought to light by Sir Matthew Bourne, the celebrated British choreographer, who shared the ad in a Tweet alongside the caption “This has to be a joke? Right?”

Later, it was discovered that the photo had been pulled from the royalty free photo sharing website Unsplash and cropped. The original image was captured by Alex for the Atlanta dance studio Vibez in Motion, and it shows a young dancer Desire’e (not Fatima) sitting next to Tasha Williams, the owner and director of the studio.

You can see the original photo below:

Which, finally, brings us up to the present day, and Alex’ statement on the matter. In a video produced by FLIdP and posted to YouTube Alex denounced the ad campaign, shared Desire’e’s story, and explained that she would never have agreed to let her photo be used in such a campaign.

“I was shocked. I woke up Monday morning to a bunch of emails and tags, and I really felt devastated,” says Alex. “I immediately thought of Desire’e and how her face was just plastered all over social media and the internet, different news articles, and memes were created, and she had no clue. All of that really hurt me.”

You can watch her full statement in the video below: