Does Autistic Photographer Patrick Notley exist?

Thanks to Smerk for posing this question in the forum. I thought it deserved to be on the front page.

Around about mid-2009, a slideshow began circulating via email featuring a series of stunning images, all of which had supposedly been taken by an autistic German photographer, Patrick Notley. The images were soon posted on slideshare, and then someone collected them together into a youtube video. A few examples of some of the photos attributed to him:

But Notley himself seemed to be a bit of a mystery. Despite being such an accomplished photographer, he didn't have a website. Nor did his name appear in any newspaper or magazine.

The mystery deepens if, as Accipiter has pointed out in the forum, you look closely in the corners of many of the photographs. There you'll see printed the names of other photographers: Detlef Winkelewski, Thomas Mörchen, Thomas Agit, etc.

Based on this, I think it's safe to conclude that Patrick Notley, photographer, doesn't exist. He seems to be nothing more than a compelling fiction invented by someone to make a series of nice photographs seem even more impressive.

But a little more research reveals that the earliest references to the Patrick-Notley slideshow don't actually describe Notley as the photographer. Instead, they had this message:

My name is Patrick Notley. I am Autistic and I produced this slide show for you. Please send it round the World. Let beauty shine through at last.

Notley isn't saying here that he took the photos. He's just saying he produced the slide show. That is, he chose the images. But as the slide show circulated around the internet, someone evidently decided it would be more interesting if he were the photographer. And that description stuck.

But if we accept that Patrick Notley isn't a photographer, is it safe to assume that he really exists (as an autistic person who likes to make slide shows)? I don't know. That's a lot harder to determine.

But it's worth noting that all the images seem to come from the same source, the German photography website (This connection was first made over at

So if some guy named Patrick Notley did produce the slide show, he didn't have to work very hard to do so. He just cut-and-pasted everything together from one website. Perhaps he's both autistic and a little bit lazy.


Posted on Wed May 02, 2012


Thanks for doing the research, Alex (and you, too, Acci!). I suspected something like that.
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Thu May 03, 2012  at  03:51 AM
And I think it's also important to point out that being 'autistic' doesn't make you special.....I'm considered a high-functioning autistic with Asperger's syndrome as well......believe me, that does NOT make you unique or special or anything except human. Lazy, you're right, that's an entirely different league. Thank both of you for clarifying who the real artists are here and hopefully someone will be able to name them properly.
Posted by hulitoons  in  Abingdon, Maryland  on  Thu May 03, 2012  at  09:18 AM
Yeah, the term "autistic" tends to be thrown around a lot. I've been diagnosed as autistic as well, and I'm merely cantankerous and don't like people.

I also noticed how the blurb at the end of the slideshow, the one that is supposedly the actual words of this Patrick Notley, simply say he put the images together. It is the blurb at the start (which looks as though it might have been written by somebody else referring to Notley) that implies that he actually took the pictures.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu May 03, 2012  at  10:58 AM
>>the blurb at the end of the slideshow

I didn't bother to watch the entire slideshow, which is why I didn't see that.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu May 03, 2012  at  11:07 AM
Anyone know the location where that ship is located? That's really pretty.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Tue May 08, 2012  at  10:36 AM
At the start of the slideshow it says, "German Photographer Patrick Notley", which sort of implies that he took the photos.

At the very end it says what you wrote above, Alex: "My name is Patrick Notley. I am Autistic and I produced this slide show for you. Please.....send it round the World...Let beauty shine through at last."

Sakano: that's the S.S. America (among other names it's had), which wrecked just off the coast of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands and sat there for a decade or so. The wreck finally all fell apart a few years back, so I don't think it can be seen anymore.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Tue May 08, 2012  at  02:22 PM
Thanks for the answer, Accipiter!
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Tue May 08, 2012  at  02:22 PM
I think your last sentence saying "Perhaps he's both autistic and a little bit lazy" is completely misplaced and judgemental. You are obviously not autistic so shouldn't judge what you can't understand.
This diaporama looks beautiful to me and I was thinking the person had done a lot of work on many of these pictures above the photo itself to enhance some of their features so...the author is not even that lazy....!
Posted by Angel314  on  Fri Nov 30, 2012  at  09:40 PM
I just can suffer people without a hint of sense of humour...
Posted by TERESA  on  Tue Dec 11, 2012  at  03:55 PM
I would have thought an organisation that devotes itself to the truth and the debunking of hoaxes would have dug a little deeper than the answers you have given. The original slide show isnt making any claims that Patrick Notley was the photographer. The only claim made was an Autistic person had achived a skill level and wanted to share some thing with the world. Socialising on any level for a person on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be a positive experience and should be applauded. Too often we focus on what the person with ASD cannot acheive rather than re-inforcing what they can achieve Celebrating their achievments can have positive effects on all children not those diagnosed with ASD. Patrick if you every get to read this, thank you for the time you took to share the images you found winderful and thank you for sharing a vision of the world we can all enjoy.
Accipiter and hulitoons, you make the same mistakes as any human and I am glad you classify people on the spectrum as human. But please The spectrum as you should know is vast and covers all from those who have totaly withdrawn from the world and need constant care right through to yourselves who are high functioning. Please dont down play the plight of others unless you have all the facts.
Posted by Brian Woods  on  Tue Dec 11, 2012  at  07:52 PM
We thought from the outset that it was a slideshow put together by someone who admires good photography and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Don't know what all the fuss is about

I wouldn't call Patrick Notley lazy just that he ejoys researching some great photographs and sharing them with the rest of us.

Just sit back and enjoy

Julia Beckley
Posted by Julia Beckley  on  Sat Mar 30, 2013  at  01:04 AM
Well like you Julia I just thoroughly enjoyed the music and the slide show of photographs, just wonderful. Good on you who ever you are for sending this file out into the world.

Posted by Robin Corban  on  Fri May 03, 2013  at  02:16 AM
Does anybody know the name of the background music and maybe the artist,also where it can be purchased
Posted by Wallace L. Loyd  on  Fri May 24, 2013  at  10:59 AM
I just loved the whole show, the music and if he had not done this, and compiled them, I would not have seen them. I never thought he was the photographer as the first one I received of these did not stae that, it appeared later...
Well done to you Patrick, you are a very clever chap. And smarter than me!
Posted by Richard Hooley  on  Sat Jul 06, 2013  at  05:58 AM
The music is Claude DeBussy.....Lemer
Posted by Richard Hooley  on  Sat Jul 06, 2013  at  06:06 AM
To Richard Hooley... I don't know what the music is, but I do know DeBussy's "La Mer" and that's not it. It isn't his style, either.
It feels like an Enya style...but it's not that, either.
Maybe someone else can enlighten us.
Posted by Apple  on  Wed Jul 24, 2013  at  11:30 PM
Patrick did not say he took the photographs. He just says he compiled them and added music all for our enjoyment.

Thank you, Patrick

Can anyone accurately identify the music and vocalist? I'd appreciate!

Posted by Chuck Sotis  on  Tue Sep 03, 2013  at  11:07 AM
You called him a little bit lazy. Well I will say he is not lazy at all. How many of you would take the time to post up a slide show of photos, let alone cut and paste? This guy got off his bottom to share with us something he liked and thought we might like too.

He has a keen eye for good photography so I say don't knock him but let him shine.
Posted by Leah  on  Wed Sep 18, 2013  at  04:28 AM
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