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News & Insight

‘Steal My Photograph!’ Says If You Can Steal It, Keep It

By Kishore Sawh on July 16th 2014


It’s coming to something when theft is making the news in a positive light. But it is, and has been happening for a while now, in the often wacky, zany world that is photography. As a counter reaction to a lack of inspiration to continue making photos, photographer Lukas Renlund decided he wanted to create an interactive photo exhibition and what was born of that idea was ‘Steal My Photograph!’ (SMP)

What has been dubbed ‘The World’s Shortest Photo Exhibit’ is a novel outdoor event whereby Renlund actively incentivizes people to steal. As pieces of his artwork are displayed outside in different venues, he encourages anyone to try to steal the pieces themselves. If they’re successful, they keep the piece, and as part of the agreement, must send a photo to Renlund of the piece in its new home.

[REWIND: ‘The Cameras We Bring’: Every Camera We Use, We Use As An Extension Of Who We Are]


In order to actually become an ‘art thief,’ people must break through a barrier of two burly guards. Clearly the whole operation’s intent is to actually get the art into the hands of people, and it doesn’t seem as if the guards pose too much of a threat, and if anything, the challenge seems to be more of an incentive.

Thus far, the interesting marketing idea has proven successful in the cities where it’s been trialled. Wetting his feet in Copenhagen in 2012, that first SMP was what gave the project the moniker of ‘World’s Shortest Exhibit’ as the pieces were all gone in 30 seconds. Now, Renlund is either utter rubbish at securing his images, or the Dutch are particularly accomplished criminals, or the program was a resounding success. Fair to say it was the latter as the project has seen continued success since traveling to  Barcelon, London, and finally in what Renlund calls ‘the Mother City’ – Cape Town, South Africa. Each project is slightly different and somehow more relevant to the location.


This most current installation in Cape Town was part of the arts festival ‘Infecting The City 2014’ that saw Renlund as one of 300 artists who made Cape Town their canvas and marketplace. You can see an inside look at the event with Renlund here:


Well, it’s certainly one of the most intriguing ways to market yourself and your work. It’s always great to see someone do something like it, just as those little moments when you think there’s nothing new under the Sun, and you’re in need of some outward thinking inspiration. Self promotion always has a vein of vanity, and this case is no different. The whole idea is strangely as unique as it is predictable. It’s probably why it works. We know what he’s doing, and why, but you just can’t help but smirk and think, perhaps, you should’ve thought of it.

You can keep up with Lukas’ latest from his site and Facebook.

CREDITS: All photographs by Sydelle Willow Smith and shared by Lukas Renlund are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Barry Cunningham

    How does he make money?

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    great concept

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  3. Bokeh Monk

    Brilliant idea ! And it a kind of a poke at those who steal photos on line !

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  4. Ian Moss


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  5. Phil Bautista

    I would like to try out this concept too. Do I need to ask his permission or can I “steal” it?

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  6. Jared Stewart

    Interesting concept…I wonder if he has received any marketing benefits from this as well?

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  7. Ben Greaves

    Is it ironic that an article about “stealing” this guys work also comes with a do not re-post/share this article note? hahaha

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    • Phil Bautista

      What’s even more ironic is that there are several other articles on this very site that don’t have that warning.

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  8. Ben Perrin

    This is great, awesome concept!

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  9. Kurk Rouse

    Some times you see stuff like this , then you slap your self and ask “why didn’t I think of that ?”. Very original concept of getting your work out there.

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