Lisa Saad stripped of all NZIPP honours

The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers (NZIPP) has issued a statement on their Facebook page announcing that Lisa Saad has been stripped of all NZIPP awards, titles, prizes, accrued merit points, and honours distinctions, and will face a life ban on entering NZ Iris Awards competitions.

NZIPP’s announcement comes after the AIPP’s disqualification of Lisa Saad’s Australian Professional Photography Awards awarded image in mid February, after internal investigations found that elements of the image she submitted were not entirely her own. The investigations were sparked by accusations on the website, Photo Stealers (see their initial accusations here).

See the full statement issued by the NZIPP below.

A comparison between Marcel van Balken’s photograph Runner (left) and the image that won Lisa Saad silver with distinction at 2018’s APPA (since disqualified), the initial focus of Photo Stealer’s investigation


The NZIPP Honours Council has now concluded their investigations into allegations of Iris Award rule breaches by Australian photographer Lisa Saad.

While the NZIPP Honours Council appreciates that some may see the announcement of this outcome as slow, it was essential that the investigation follow a thorough and rigorous process around what has been a complex situation.

The allegations first came to light following anonymous emails sent to a number of organisations around the world, including the NZIPP Honours Council. In the days that followed revelations were made by Corey Doyle Balazowich, through her website in support of these allegations. We acknowledge the significant amount of work undertaken by Ms Balazowich, which reflected the complexity and depth of the analysis required to investigate the allegations. Ms Balazowich’s work was a major catalyst for both the NZIPP Honours Council and other organisations commencing their own investigations into Ms Saad.

The allegations revolved around plagiarism and copyright, and this was also the focus of the initial investigations carried out by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP) and Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). Each of these organisations subsequently disqualifying Ms Saad’s entries.

The second component to the AIPP investigation concluded when Ms Saad failed to submit the requested files by their imposed deadline. The failure by Ms Saad to supply these files resulted in an automatic breach of entry rules and an across the board disqualification. Her membership of the AIPP was immediately terminated, and all points, awards, titles, and prizes rescinded. A ban from entering future AIPP State or National Awards was also imposed on her.

The investigation undertaken by the NZIPP Honours Council took a slightly different route, where Ms Saad chose to submit a number of the requested files, withdrew entries where she was unable to provide files for all of the elements, and more recently, did not provide all of the remaining files as requested by the designated deadline.

Members of the NZIPP Honours Council have worked day and night over recent weeks to carry out a comprehensive review of all files and images that were submitted, assessing these alongside the allegations and information shared on the website, as well as the rules outlined in the Iris Awards Call for Entries document.

The NZIPP Honours Council investigation revealed compelling evidence of breaches of rules and entry conditions by Ms Saad. Furthermore, Ms Saad’s conduct indicated an intent to deceive and mislead the outcome of the investigation. Based on these findings, the NZIPP Honours Council has now disqualified all of Ms Saad’s entries.

Subsequent to this disqualification, NZIPP has decided that effective immediately, all awards, titles, prizes, accrued merit points and Honours Distinctions received by Ms Saad through the NZ Iris Awards be revoked. In addition, a life ban is to be imposed on Ms Saad, meaning she will no longer be eligible to enter any future NZ Iris Awards competition.

Following this outcome, the NZIPP Honours Council will now commence the process of re-assigning awards to the revised and rightful winners. Information on this will come through in the weeks ahead.

This has been an unprecedented situation, but throughout the process the NZIPP Honours Council has proven that both the Iris Awards entry rules and the systems in place to enforce those rules have stood up to the investigation. As such, aside from the annual review of entry rules, there is no reason to make any significant changes to what currently exists. Ultimately, the onus falls on the entrant to read, understand and follow all entry rules, with consequences should they choose not to.

Finally, while this event has affected many people, the NZIPP hopes that through the NZIPP Honours Council now reaching an outcome, all those who have been impacted and affected by the situation are able to move on in a positive light, trusting that this has been an isolated case and that entrants who enter the Iris Awards in the future do so with honesty and integrity.

Ollie Dale, FNZIPP

NZIPP President