He wins a prestigious photo contest with an AI image, but refuses to accept the award

He wins a prestigious photo contest with an AI image, but refuses to accept the award

German photo artist Boris Ildjsen won first prize in one of the categories at the International Film Festival Sony World Photography AwardsOne of the oldest photography competitions in the world. But the winning photo was created with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), not a camera.

For this reason, he refuses to accept the award and instead encourages dialogue about the problem.

The World Photography Organization behind the contest agreed to it, but apparently without follow-up.

Be open about using AI

Eldugsen writes that he drew attention to the fact that the image was created with the help of artificial intelligence as soon as he was informed of his victory, but it took more than three weeks before he snapped at the members of the organization. According to Eldgsson, he pestered them several times and was finally asked if he would answer questions on the organization’s blog, but he did not receive any.

The image has now been removed from the physical gallery as well as from the list of winning images on the competition website.

Neither he nor the public received any comments or information about the background to the removal, Eldgssen says Norwegian photo site Foto.no.


The winning photo has now been removed from the site. screenshot

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time an AI image has won a competition. In the fall of 2022, Digi wrote about an AI-generated image that won an art competition at a state festival in Colorado.

Among other things, this event inspired Eldagsen to submit AI-generated images to three different photo contests. Much to his surprise, none of them changed their rules so that submitted photos had to be real photos.

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Do you see that this is not a real picture? Photo: Berlin Photo Edition – Boris Eldgesen

Thus, his winning photo, titled “The Electrician”, was within the rules, and the competition organizers insisted that he was the winner, even after he explicitly stated that the photo was produced by artificial intelligence and is not a photo in the traditional sense.

But Eldugson refused to accept the award and wanted to discuss the problem. He ended up with neither, but instead posted a timeline and thoughts on his case Facebook page And in an interview.

In the latter, it also shows several steps of the final image creation process.

Veles book

Norwegian photographer Jonas Bendixen was one of the first to address this problem. He is the ex-president of Magnum, which is probably the most prestigious photo agency in the world, and made in 2021.”Veles book». It was presented as a documentary project, but several months later it was revealed by Bendiksen himself as a collection of text and images generated by artificial intelligence, created specifically to address this problem.


Photographer Jonas Bendixen thinks the process is a bit strange. Photo: Arnfinn Johnson

“To me, it feels a bit artificial to bring it up this way,” Bendiksen tells Digi on the phone. – It’s important to bring it up and discuss it, but to withdraw from a competition in which it seems he was a legitimate winner, and where the organizer knows what he did, after all, seems a little strange.

– Winning a creative category with an AI-generated image is really non-problematic, as long as it’s within the competition rules. If he had entered a documentary or news category, it would no doubt have been different, but this creative category is there precisely to embrace the wide range of technologies and possibilities, and perhaps even highlight issues surrounding AI content.

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“You’ve always been able to play around with your photography,” Bendiksen points out, “but what’s new is that you can now automate it and make it much easier than before, at almost no cost.”



Ashura Okorie

Ashura Okorie

"Infuriatingly humble web fan. Writer. Alcohol geek. Passionate explorer. Evil problem solver. Incurable zombie expert."

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