April 19th, 2013

Photographer Finally Takes Down Pictures of Bombing Suspect to Stop Theft

Hirn's photo story about one of the Boston bombing suspects appeared in a Boston University magazine back in 2010.

Hirn’s photo story about one of the Boston bombing suspects appeared in a Boston University student magazine in 2010.

Johannes Hirn, the former Boston University journalism student who shot a photo essay about one of the Boston bombing suspects, has removed the images from a PhotoShelter website and is referring licensing requests to Barcroft Media.

The images, comprising a 2010 photo essay called “Will Box for Passport,” feature the so-called “black hat” Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The story is about Tsarnaev’s bid to become an Olympic boxer, and shows him training in a mixed martial arts gym in Boston.

The story was published in 2010 in a graduate student magazine of Boston University’s College of Communication, where Hirn was a student. Hirn shot the story as a final assignment for a photojournalism course he took while at BU, according to an NPPA report.

Tsarnaev was killed last night in a shoot-out with police. After he was identified, news outlets found Hirn’s photo essay. Reporters used Hirn’s photo captions to profile Tsarnaev.  A number of media outlets have also copied and distributed Hirn’s photos without permission before he removed them from the Photoshelter site.

“We have seen multiple outlets lift screenshots of the images, but the hi res images are not accessible through PhotoShelter without direct permission from the photographer,” Andrew Fingerman of Photoshelter told PDN just before Hirn took the pictures off the site.

Hirn announced that Barcroft Media–a UK-based licenser of editorial content–is the exclusive distributor of the images. He also announced,  “I am not available for interview or comment.”

Hirn earned a PhD in particle physics before attending BU, where he earned a degree in science journalism, according to the NPPA report. He  now works in communications for an astrophysics lab at the University of Toronto.