Behind the scenes of the Thieving Duck

Long time readers will remember the thieving duck photo that I made in 2005. Scratch that, many people who use email, Facebook, Twitter or other social media website will be familiar with this photo. A recent post on Reddit showed me just how tired some people are of it as a meme! I would dearly love to know who it was that copied the photo into a joke email because I would thank them.

At first I was upset that my photo had been taken and used without my permission. It took me a long time to figure out that it doesn’t matter. I had fun taking the photo and it’s a reminder of a great holiday. I smiled looking at the photos this morning while I picked out these shots for this post. I wonder if the model, or the people pictured here have seen the meme?

I had no idea who financed this shoot although the Snopes article on it suggests Western Union did, nor did I talk to anyone there but I saw a chance to get an interesting photo and I took it.

Here’s a gallery of behind the scenes shots. Enjoy!


Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 55mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/80s

The most sent around duck photo

I would love to know who made an email attachment of my thieving duck and thank them. The Aflac Duck seems to be a well known part of American insurance marketing and people got a kick out of these ducks stealing money from a lady on the street!

Apparently my thieving duck has become “the most sent-around-ha-ha-look-at-the-duck photo evar” but I wish I had watermarked the image with my blog url. It has appeared on:

To those that linked back here, thank you. To the rest, shame on you, why didn’t you use Google and find my blog?

I’m still chuffed that an image of mine is now an “urban legand” of sorts. Not many can say that! More comments on flickr but please link here if you’re going to link anywhere!

Update – welcome visitors from the Zefrank forum!

Update on June 14th. It appears the News of the World newspaper used the Thieving Duck last Sunday. I sent them off an email this afternoon so hopefully I will hear from them within a day or two.

The Thieving Duck

A duck robs a poor innocent woman as she’s distracted by the cute ducklings. Moments later they all rush off with their ill-gotten gains!

What you don’t see is the camera crew, make-up and lighting people and a small crowd watching from behind them. This was for some advert and of course the woman in question is a model.
I shot this on State Street, Chicago after stumbling upon the shoot by accident. They didn’t seem to mind, and I even got a dazzling smile from the model!

I like this: xtreme (login may be required)

2006-10-03 – Welcome visitors from snopes.com, thanks Kathy B for linking here, I appreciate it. Please feel free to leave a comment!

Snopes.com have now published this picture and the joke description on a separate page linking to this blog. Thank you!

2006-10-07 – John Marguess pointed me at Organized Crime which uses the same image in another joke email! Thanks John!

Here’s the text of the joke email (via snopes) for those of you who go searching for the origins of it. I’d love to know who concocted it in the first place!

Seems the Better Business Bureau got a complaint the other day about a scam in which AFLAC allegedly was taking advantage of women on the street and stealing their money.
Now we all at one time or another have thought that INSURANCE Companies have stolen from us; however, this scam is netting COLD HARD CASH from unsuspecting individuals.
The way it works is the thief uses children to distract the target. While admiring the cuteness of the kids the target is robbed of her cash and never knows what hit her.
I’m sending this out for all to be aware that this is happening and it’s right out on the streets in front of the general public.
A passer-by with a digital camera phone happened to capture the photo attached.
Review it carefully and use caution when distractions like this come along.
Good Luck, and don’t say you weren’t warned.

According to Snopes, it was an advert showing how safe Western Union money transfer system was. I really should have asked someone..