Doug Gordon is a prevailing photographer and educator in the photography community. Whether you recognize his name or not, you've probably seen him on stages for just about every photo expo in the last five years. Through his industry connections, Doug has found a lot of success in his career, but what many don't know, is that he has stirred up a lot of controversy through plagiarism and deceitfulness.
For the second time in a single year, Doug Gordon has been caught plagiarizing writings on his website. Through the detective work of PhotoStealers.com, they have stumbled across what appears to be another prime example of theft from Doug Gordon and his staff. From artist bios, to entire articles and concepts were found stolen by Doug Gordon and his staff through Photostealers, and they quickly jumped to expose him for his crimes.
When this event first happened back in July of 2013, I personally called Doug and spoke with him over the phone. Between his moments of boasting his own accreditation of photography and education, were moments of honest apologetic behavior. He did not excuse his actions, he simply asked for forgiveness on his lapse of judgment and actions. Perhaps against my better judgment, I did. As an editor of a popular photography website, I understand the forever need to find and create new and interesting content for your viewers, and while I've certainly never resorted to plagiarism, I sympathized with the stress he was dealing with. The piece I was writing for Fstoppers at the time was never published (Though Jasmine Star wrote one concerning her own actions at the same time). Eventually, WPPI stated that he was not welcomed on stage for their future events, and that punishment would be struck down. But was it?
Since this moment in time, not much has seemingly changed. Doug was invited to the Nikon booth at WPPI, and was still given his microphone and soapbox to pitch his workshops and education materials at the same event he was banned from as punishment. Doug has still traveled all over the United States, educating photographers of his techniques and skills as a wedding photographer. And Nikon even went as far as making him a Nikon Ambassador (a title that comes with a nice paycheck along with it's prestige) following the scandal that seemingly has gone unpunished. But what comes to many as a surprise is that Doug didn't change either, and has plagiarized more material since being caught red handed back in 2013.
Plagiarism Round 2
That's right, Doug was recently exposed once again by PhotoStealers that his website contains even more stolen material. Stolen from friend and colleague Steve Rosenbaum, Doug has equipped his workshops website with an eloquently written piece about his career as a photographer. The downside however, is that it's nearly verbatim to Steve Rosenbaum's About Us page for his marketing company S.I.R. Marketing - A company heavily ingrained in the photography community with clients such as Pentax, Alien Skin, and even WPPI.
Doug Gordon stated that the About Me bio was written prior to the first plagiarism scandal, and simply slipped through the cracks when they removed many of the pieces that PhotoStealers exposed. However, screen captures from PhotoStealers paints a different story, showing that this newly plagiarized About Me was posted months after the first accusations were made.
I was able to reach out and speak with Steve Rosenbaum on the news surfacing about Doug's stolen About Me page, and Steve responded with a formal comment on the situation --
Appearing on the Facebook message thread were various other comments surrounding the similarity between my Agency’s “About Us” website page (which we wrote and published on my Agency’s website more than a decade ago) and a similar statement that was published on Doug Gordon’s website. I’m sorry but I can’t explain anything about that because neither my Agency nor I had any involvement with, or knowledge of that modified material, which appeared on Doug’s site.
Since the surfacing of this new material of plagiarism, Gary Fong has spoken out on his relationship with Doug Gordon, and the disappoint he has with Doug's actions. Gary spoke with PhotoStealers and writes -
I can say this without fear of actionable libel or slander. Doug Gordon has repeatedly lied to me, and has stolen from others. I was sticking up for him because of the story he shared with me from the past, but I doubt that anything Doug says is true.
You can share/post/republish this as you wish. I am not going to get involved into contacting Nikon about this information, but the buying public should be aware of this as should Nikon.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came in the form of public outcry upon the releasing of all this information above. While scrolling through the comments of other pages, some claims were found on Doug Gordon's work and character that were extremely deceitful on how he operates his wedding photography business.
As posted above, in the comments of a recent article exposing Doug Gordon for the above mentioned plagiarism is someone claiming that Doug Gordon also sent students to photograph their wedding in his place. Comes as no surprise from a man who claims to shoot over 50 weddings a year despite giving workshops, lectures and seminars all over the United States. I was able to reach out to Nick (whom asked to have his last name revoked from the article) and get additional information on the situation. Nick writes --
We hired a local studio that Doug was a partner or owner in. The studio was supposed to do the usual; candid photos throughout the day as well as the wedding party poses, etc. What we ended up with was one photographer that was seemingly unfamiliar with the settings on his camera and a “helper” that did not have a camera at all and was extremely young (under 15 maybe) as well as obviously inexperienced.
Nick continued by explaining how guests at the wedding were helping the photographer throughout the day with various camera settings, trying to save whatever damage was done by the unexperienced photographer. During the follow up meeting, they met with Doug, and said they did not feel it was appropriate to pay the final balance on the photographs, as they did not get the product they expected. The follow up went as follows --
Doug is a fast talking salesman. [...] We were robbed of a proper photography team on our wedding day and then threatened with the police showing up at our door because we put a hold on the credit card payment. The only thing that we had from Doug at this point was a book of proofs. We did not have an album or albums, we did not have full access to the few photos that we had seen previously. In the end we paid the balance as the constant threats from Doug were not stopping and we just wanted him to go away.We still do not have an album and likely never will have one. Every wedding we attend is a reminder of what we were cheated out of by getting stuck with Doug Gordon.
While this is just an example from one client in his hundrends of clients over the last few years, it still leaves a lingering sour taste. Certainly we've all had clients and situations where we've dropped the ball, but I've never heard of one in such detail.
So What Has Happened In This Recent Wake?
Since the most recent actions of Doug have been made known, we reached out to Nikon for comment. In reply, Nikon stated the following with regards to the Nikon Ambassadors Program:
We can confirm that Doug Gordon is no longer a part of the program. Our program focus continues to be inspiring and educating photographers of all levels.
Before and After taken from Nikon's Ambassador Program Page.
However, Doug is still teaching his workshops, and still faced without anything other than criticism from his peers. People who once defended his actions have now turned their backs on him in light of the second wave of information. He's still working in the industry, he's still teaching workshops, and he's still making a living off of plagiarism and deceitfulness.
So what will happen to Doug Gordon? Should he be banned from more speaking events and stages? Should studios prevent him from teaching his workshops all over the United States? I'd love to hear your comments and concerns in the comment section below.
This article is an opinion piece and does not express the views or concerns of Fstoppers, Fstoppers staff, or the photography community as a whole. All information was provided by sources that were cited throughout the article, as well as presented at the bottom of the article. Doug Gordon was contacted to make a formal statement and this article will update if/when that statement is made.
[images via PhotoStealers, Information through multiple sources stated throughout the article]
[Lead Image by Lynn Barsigian | Used With Permission]