Photographer admits to faking “lava photographer on fire” image that went viral


posted Friday, July 19, 2013 at 1:10 PM EDT


Over the last few weeks, a seemingly incredible image of a photographer standing on a lava flow with his feet and tripod in flames has gone viral. It quickly spread around the Internet as evidence of a photographer's apparent extreme dedication to his craft, but also because many accused it of being a fraud or faked with Photoshop. Now the photographer behind the image has admitted it's not a case of spontaneous combustion, but says his intent was never to deceive.

The image was taken by photographer Kawika Singson of Hawaii, posing on top of a lava flow. The viral image made the rounds insanely quickly, first through social media, and then on to major news networks. A big part of the image's popularity was the debate about if the image was faked or not — because while lava can get hot enough to cause spontaneous combustion, the photo certainly doesn't look like it's in a hot enough state for that. Not to mention, Singson isn't wearing gear appropriate for dealing with that sort of heat in the shot.

Now, in telephone interviews with the likes of CNN and CBS, Singson has confessed that the image was staged. While the flames were very real, it wasn't a case of his tripod and shoes spontaneously combusting because of the intense heat. In truth, Singson  used accelerant on both and got a friend to take the photo, simply because he thought it would look interesting and "It's just something I wanted for my Facebook cover photo."

The photo is incredibly cool, and has catapulted Singson to unexpected fame. It has also, doubtless, caused a boom for his photography business. Here's just hoping this doesn't lead to a trend of photographers setting themselves on fire trying to be the next viral star.

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