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Amorous protesters, lost in the heat of Vancouver riots

When one of my colleagues alerted me to this image by retweeting it this morning, my gut instinct was to shout "No way! That's fake!" But minutes later we discovered that the image was shot by Getty Images photographer Rich Lam.

I was beside myself.

The "too-good-to-be-true" element of this photo is the juxtaposition of the riot cops and the couple who made a bed out of the littered street following last nights' Stanley Cup Playoffs in Vancouver.

We've got an interview with Lam coming up around 2pm ET to find out just what was going on that led to this photo. Check back in a couple hours.

UPDATE: 6/16/2011, 2:20pm ET -- I just had a conversation with Rich about this image.

After shooting the final game for Getty Images, Rich Lam headed to the streets to photograph the protests.

“We were in front of the bay where looting and burning was taking place,” he said. And that’s when it happened. From dogs to horses, tear gas to pepper spray, “it was just mayhem.”

Police started pushing everyone out of the streets. At one point Lam looked back and saw the scene above — two people on the ground. His initial instinct was that they were hurt.

“I looked back and thought someone was injured and I shot that. I framed it up, juxtaposed with the policemen.”

Lam didn’t realize what he had captured. He turned his images in to the photo editors who were processing the volumes of photos chronicling the events of the night.

A little while later another photographer from the Getty team came up to him and said “nice picture of the couple kissing.” Unsure of what he was referring to, he returned to the editing room.

“Oh my God – they’re making out!” Lam said.

In retrospect Lam said “it was just crazy – for them to do something like that. I don’t understand why people riot to begin with.”

Some others have their suspicions, and with good reason. Comments like those from Jess, below, give me reason to think the couple are performers of some kind:

I saw the same couple make out in the middle of the road (on the divider between oncoming traffic in Yaletown a week ago. Pacific and Homer to be exact. It looks like they like the thrill of making out in public with people watching.

A photo that appears to have been taken at the same location makes it look even less organic. CNBC's Darren Rovell along with Steve Poller and Sara Lauch questioned whether the two intentionally staged themselves there.

UPDATE: 6/17/2011, 12:00pm ET --

nineMSN.com has uncovered the identity of the male in the photo, after an interview with immediate relatives. The website says that Hannah Jones, from Perth, told them that the man is her brother, Scott Jones, 29, who lives and works in Vancouver.

Late yesterday Getty Images reached out to Lam, who provided his employer with the entire series of images.
You can see them here: http://bit.ly/kwz2JD

UPDATE: 6/20/2011, 9:00am ET --

This morning the couple in the widely-seen photo appeared on the today show. Scott Jones and Alex Thomas address accusations that the photo was faked. "I was just trying to calm her down. It seemed like the thing to do," Jones said. Continue reading...

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Amusing "Dear Vancouver" tweets out there.