We’ve listened: Jasmine Star and Doug Gordon WPPI 2014 Update

By // October 11, 2013 // Posted in Industry News, WPPI News

There’s been some long days in my career, days that I thought would never end, like the 16 hour wedding, or the time groomsmen got into a fist fight and accidently punched me in the face, or the time I sprained my ankle walking backwards shooting the recession. Nope, I was wrong, the last few days have indeed been the longest for ALL of us.

I want to again thank all of you who have voiced your opinions, and for your candor.

We have all been listening, and in light of recent events, Jasmine Star and Doug Gordon have decided that it would be best if they did not speak at WPPI. Like all of us, they love WPPI as much as we do, and we do not want to compromise the integrity of our beloved conference.

Again, the integrity and reputation of WPPI is important to us, and we want to thank you for your feedback in maintaining its high standards.

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Jason Groupp

Jason Groupp

Jason Groupp is the Director of WPPI and a New York City photographer heavily steeped in the industry. Adoring New York City far beyond any healthy proportion, Jason has maintained his photography studio in West Chelsea for the past 12 years.

Previously from Jason Groupp:


    • I think that was a huge loss for WPPI. Presenters should be chosen for their ability to instruct.

    • Marlo, Please go and read the comments on the petition and you will see candor and honesty. “You’re just jealous!” Is a sad way to view the world, my friend.

    • Why would anyone be jealous of someone who feels the need to stoop to plagiarizing and other questionable tactics? For people in a creative field to steal the work of other creatives is pretty low and not something to be lauded. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone success in their chosen field, but when it comes at the expense of others it is not something we should celebrate. It’s too bad that WPPI had to be led to this decision instead of making it on their own. Those who need no prodding to stand up for, not only individual integrity, but the integrity of the industry should definitely be applauded for their support of doing things by the book.

    • I get that you’re a fan. But you should be concerned with what those two did. It’s not about being jealous of anybody’s success – heck, if you want to be jealous of anybody, be jealous of Jerry Ghionis who is successful based on the work he creates.

      The point is: we as an industry have standards. Just because somebody is famous, well like and has a bunch of little fans doesn’t mean they can do as they please. Stop defending this behavior.

      • completely agree with Kat. There is not even reason to be jealous. J* and DG works are mediocre. They are marketers…bet there are many other great photographers who can be leaders and presenters at WPPI. I do not feel industry is loosing anything with removing these 2 from WPPI.

  1. Marlo,

    What exactly do you think should have happened? You do understand that this entire event was caused by the theft of original material from its owners?

    If someone steals images from you, what would you do? How would you feel?

    I’m curious? You think that people who protested the inclusion of Doug and Jasmine at WPPI was all about jealousy? It had nothing to do with running your business in an ethical manor?

  2. Whether it was the two thieves who chose to back out for fear of having to answer to former followers in such a huge public forum or whether the pressure came from WPPI management, I am happy to see that Jasmine Star and Doug Gordon will no longer be on the speaking roster.

    Ethics and integrity still matter to a lot of people and those who blatantly disregard the intellectual property rights of others have no place representing our industry. What makes me even more angry is that instead of taking responsibility for what they did, they just delete all the evidence and try to pretend that nothing happened. I would like to see a sincere apology before I can consider taking anything either of these two say seriously again.

  3. Why were they even given the option? If integrity is important, why is WPPI not taking a position? How is this anything but a weak non-stance?

    • They don’t want to make it look like that they were banned from wppi. It is hard enough to have to go trough this situation for them. But I’m sure they were contacted by wppi asking them to choose not to speak…

  4. I am glad to hear this! Doug Gordon is a very dishonest man who lacks integrity ( and cannot spell and use grammar correctly) .. He still has $640 of mine that he would not refund after giving out a code on Creative Live that was usable on a workshop- Four of us were going.. His site took it…. then we were all told that we owed the balance after all. None of us wanted to go after this… but would not refund our money. He pocketed $2900 and none of us attended.. yet kept sending emails about how it was almost sold out… for weeks.. He called my house and harassed my husband threatening to “sue” me if I did not remove my BBB complaint… All the while sending out emails about how he was so close to selling out… All of this 7 MONTHS away from the actual May Workshop in New York State. ???? And we all find out that he is plagiarizing ALL of these email blasts and blog posts ???? Because of him I have lost TOTAL respect for these “rock star” wanna be photogs…. I now just stick to running my legal photography business and do not attend “workshops” –

    Good Job WPPI for listening to the people who keep the finances going for WPPI

  5. Every system has a way of correcting itself, just like a dog shakes off it’s fleas. The past 5 years have created a bubble full of hot aired folks selling “the dream”, and profiting from people who buy into the dream. But it’s not totally their fault, a lot of people only heard the fun stuff, and thought this was a get rich quick scheme, that required no real work or talent..

  6. Char, not everybody participates in unethical behavior.

    In fact, it’s pretty rare. There are many, many dedicated professionals who care about the reputation of the professional photographer.

    If notable professional photographers do something unethical, it unfairly tarnishes the possibilities for good, hardworking people who don’t deserve a bad reputation.

    • You are right Gary… but it’s the “rock star” photogs that are ruining it… When “fame” becomes more important that sticking to really helping people who pay you for your services.. it does make it bad….. I do now, fortunately, know that I have to research better and do my homework before I spend a dime on another photography related seminar/workshop in the future.. there ARE some legit ones out there… There are!! You get burned like I (we) did and you get pretty turn off about it all…

      Our story is pretty lengthy and there is so much more to it – including a MAJOR photo lab who he threw the name in there as part of the problem… and they backed him :( Sadly…. … I kept it short on here… Long of that short… I was lied to and taken the advantage of and bullied…. I am so glad that a light is being shone on this problem now…. that’s all! It’s a big problem ….

      I do know that not everyone participates in unethical behavior… Gary … I have the utmost respect for you :)

      • To elaborate on Char’s dealing with Mr. Gordon’s lack of integrity, this incident goes beyond his plagiarism. On October 11, 2012, Doug Gordon was featured on CreativeLive, The Doug Gordon Photography Project. He stated that 40% would be off anything in his online workshop store. (Which was also indicated on the creative live website) I signed up for the Doug Gordon Workshop to be held in May 2013 in New York. When I signed up through Mr. Gordon’s website in October, 2012, I used a discount code “creativelive”, which was accepted by Mr. Gordon’s website, and registered for two spots at the workshop at a price of $870 each or $1740 total. (Char and another photographer also signed up for the discount price.)

        I registered for this Doug Gordon workshop at a price I thought was valid and paid that price in full. One of Mr. Gordon’s employees left a message several days later and said I could not use the discount. I never agreed to pay the higher price and I have requested a refund of my money. Doug Gordon refused and would not refund $1740 for two spots at his workshop. After contacting a lawyer, BBB and New York attorney general, Mr. Gordon was unwilling to honor the price and has instead indicated that I must pay a higher price to attend. Doug Gordon responses to the BBB and New York Attorney General office were lies and false. The only other step that I could have taken was to go to New York to file a claim in small claims court, which the cost would not justify what Mr. Gordon owes me.

        WPPI…I respect that you gave the photographers a voice. I hope everyone learns from this situation.

  7. Can’t believe you caved to the pressure. Both of them fucked up, but banning them from speaking??? Lame. Show some backbone Jason.

  8. It’s not just stealing from other photographers, they were unrepentant. And these people take money from photograohers to teach them what? That you have to leave your ethics at the door to succeed? No thank you.

    • Incorrect, don’t confuse Doug with Jasmine, Jasmine did ask for forgiveness. Although I am saddened this decision had to be made, and it really must be difficult to be in Jason’s shoes, I do understand Plagiarism is not something truly hard working professional photographers take lightly. In light of all the stealing going on (not just J&D), this will no doubt be beneficial and bring discussion & education in our community. Everyone makes mistakes, but when you’re on a platform, you’re held more accountable than others. The rest of you people complaining about this decision make bad choices as well, we just can’t see them. And don’t worry, they will be back. They are just getting their spank.

      • Charleton Jasmine did apologized first only to a closed group and kicked out of her page any of her fans that inquired about the issue at hand, it is until now that it is publc, and it seems it is more about the pressure from the public than from real remorse…it has been quite sometime since she did apologize and she wasn’t honest about it… You see, as a pro photographer and a former law student she knew doing copy and paste from other sources without asking permission and giving credit to the source is a big copyright infringment this wasn’t a mistake as she says, it is something she knew was wrong but did it anyway. Plagiarism is the same for you, me and Jasmine Star, plagiarism isn’t a “mistake” it is illegal and goes against both the local and national laws and international treaties like the Berne Convention. Again as a former law student and as a pro photographer you know about all this stuff even if someone decides to ignore it, it is not a “mistake” it is fully illegal.

        Wether you are on a plataform with a status or you are like every other photographer we are accountable of our actions with both the responsibility and consequences of both the good and bad things we do, after all we are adults and we know better than doing illegal actions against our peers or other artists in other fields.

        I don’t wish her any bad, in fact while I am not one of her fans I wish she has a bright future and also I just wish that future photographers learn from this: regardless of our status the law should be upheld always, if we want others to respect our work we must respect other people’s work too.

  9. The right call was made. And done in the correct fashion.

    Given the history of the two in question, allowing them to step away and preserve some dignity was the right call. Regardless of whatever corporate pressure WPPI was under, I wholeheartedly agree with the decision made and how it was handled. Kudos to all the people involved.

  10. Glad to see that these two won’t be at WPPI.

    Now if other organizations like CreativeLive would stop putting people like Sean Flannigan (insane con artist/wedding&workshop ditcher) on the air, that would be great.

    This whole industry could use a little more vetting of the people put on pedestals. This is a great start.

  11. They were exposed. There are many more, just like them, still banking loads of cash while they continue to roll out their “fake it until you make it” marketing scams. Lame workshops, worthless products and crappy youtube videos do not prove credibility or integrity. These bottom feeders rely on the fact that the general public will “buy” anything they sell – with strategic marketing. What intrigues me is the fact that so few, if anyone, ever takes the time to research the people they are “admiring”, following and funding. Baiting Facebook and throwing another youtube video in the library; that is the signature of shallow ethics & integrity.

  12. Jason,
    When you joined WPPI, there was more wrong than right with it. Recent years have led to an event consisting of more snake oil salespeople than true caring professionals. Everything you have done, thus far, has helped correct this. Thank you.

  13. Well done. It’s the right thing to do.

    I’ve been amazed to see how “fans” have tried to justify the behaviour.

  14. Finally! For too many years WPPI and other organization have been putting mediocre or worse “teachers” up on stage to show us how to copy exactly what they do. Stealing the term ” flow pose” or saying they ” invented” certain poses etc! The sad truth is that there are many newbies in our industry that have not been exposed to fine photography or teachers. When they see the snake oil salesman on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans,buy their DVD at the end of the frenzy and easily accomplish what they see on stage, they feel a great sense of accomplishment.

    It’s time for everyone who can,to give back to their profession and get wedding and portrait photography back to a Profession we can be proud of. WPPI and others to forget about what speaker has more sponsors that can pay to put these bozos up on stage and hire programs for content value. A great move in the right direction!,

  15. How sad. They did wrong. yes. They apologized. They have been shamed enough publicly and now this. No mercy. I’m turned off by them for being dishonest but I’m more turned off by the shaming and punishing of the crowd. wow.
    if you don’t like them, it was as easy as not attending the classes at WPPI. surely, there are many other platforms you could have gone to instead of crucifying these two. When will it end?

  16. I posted this on Jasmine Star’s apology at f-stoppers but I want to be sure you understand how my team of 4 feels about this because many I know feel the same way.

    I have met Jasmine Star and thought she was adorable, she created enthusiasm for wedding photography for young female photographers and I liked that for my daughters. I bought reSTARt and joined the group to learn how to increase our exposure and it helped so much. The team wasn’t fans of her photography and thought her skills weren’t up to par for teaching and preferred she didn’t comment on film photography but we all pick and choose what we will learn from any instructors.

    BUT I was deeply disappointed in how this was handled. When it really blew up in the reSTARt group, why did she allow the melee that ensued? Without explanation so many were kicked out of the group. Why did she allow her avid supporters to be so vicious. I got called hateful things and I made one comment on irony over a mispelling to bring some levity to the discussion without regard to the many comments I had made of thanks.

    I wish the apology didn’t minimize (out of 1500 blog posts – only 4), (the petition was unnecessary because I was going to withdraw anyway). I saw the apology in the resTARt group that she had apologized to the writers and the next day one of them said he had received no apology. HOWEVER as someone who made my own huge mistakes in younger years I know how hard humiliation, shame, anger at yourself, anger at the lies of others that made things worse piled onto the your own stupidity. So I kept Jasmine Star De La Torre in my prayers and still do. I have lived this painful lesson and learned that the most important thing you can do is walk the talk and face your mistakes head on before someone has to force you to. She can survive successfully and with grace having learned some big lessons and I hope she does. I hope she realizes that the polarizing happened because she didn’t learn them sooner.

    IN ADDITION: Doug Gordon has always been smarmy and I’ve heard terrible things about Sean Flanigan, saw his apology in a group about the damage his drug addiction has caused (so many who are still waiting to be repaid). We are building a business, there is so much to learn and we would like to learn it from people who can actually teach us how to run it properly and with integrity.

  17. Maybe you an add a “Business Ethics” course instead to the line-up. Wonder what “rockstar” could teach that? In any other business a petition wouldn’t have needed to surface and the speakers would be out of business.

  18. I don’t have anything to do with fashion or weddings. Despite having a little bit of photography education and experience, compared to these folks, I’m just an ol’ MWAC. However, I’ve been following this for some time. The argument that they should be allowed to stay? It’s invalid. They are teachers correct? I have spent the past 8 years going to college and let me tell you, if you steal another’s work or copy without giving credit, you get a big fat “F” for the ENTIRE semester. If a teacher were caught plagiarizing he/she would be either fired or put on probation. You must lead by example and if these two were left to teach then it would be sending a HUGE message to the rest of us mere mortals that as long as your a big name, you can do as you please. I was a bit surprised that the blog posts weren’t reviewed to begin with. I mean evenI have to submit my paper to a website that checks for authenticity. For anyone who thinks its not a big deal, why don’t you let me build my business on your work, your writings and never give you credit while my wallet gets fat and your left out in rain. 😉

  19. Gary,
    Well stated!
    I applaud WPPI for recognizing and making these two pay the consequences for their bad behavior. For what ever their reasons may have been they didn’t act with integrity just greed.

  20. Dear Jason,
    I think the way you handled this shows your maturation and intelligence as a person, and a leader. It was genius to afford them the honor to back out respectively on their own, and allow them to save some face. I’m sure that this was suggested to them as the best/right thing to do. We all knew that you would do a lot to make WPPI better this year. The way you handled this should definitely prove with out a doubt that WPPI made the right decision in selecting you for the job. Bravo my friend, I am proud of you!

  21. WPPI made a right call- people who take other’s material to teach do not need to be at a highly respected teaching event like WPPI. Thank you.

  22. Isn’t photography about capturing moments? SO WHAT!! Jasmine used information from resources that she came across during her learning process. And yes, credit should have been included, but I don’t think this was horrible enough to give her the boot. Forever a supporter of Jasmine, who I believe added far more positive to this industry. Shame on those who continue to criticize.

  23. I support and applaud Jason and WPPI for taking a stand here! Copying the work of others, which includes plagiarism as Star and Gordon have been accused, is the photography industry’s version of using steroids to get ahead. Not only is it cheating – using and unfair advantage to get ahead – it’s theft since someone else’s work is being used without permission. While I acknowledge that Star and Gordon have instructed and helped many photographers in their careers, the good that they do does not make up for their unethical behavior.

    It’s no different than Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after being caught using steroids even though he had contributed millions to cancer research. He cheated and had to pay the consequences. The same is true with Star and Gordon – they need to be held accountable for their misdeeds.

    As far as I’m aware, what neither has done though is accepted full and complete responsibility for their actions. Gordon blamed it on his web guy (oldest alibi in the book) and Star has only admitted to unspecified “mistakes” that she blamed on the stress of moving. Stepping on the teaching platform that WPPI provides is a privilege and an honor that should be earned. When the teachers breach that trust, they forfeit that privilege. By WPPI taking a stand here, unpopular though it may be, they send the clear message that cheating is not the path to long-term success.

  24. Hey Jason,

    I think you did a wonderful thing and handled this quite well. Good job handling what must have been a very challenging situation.

  25. Thank you WPPI! This may bring back those who have avoided convention in previous years due to situations similar as these. It shows that WPPI takes these concerns seriously and handles the conflicts gracefully.

  26. I don’t know the exact details about this but several years ago I attended a Jasmine Star workshop, I went in as a fan of her work and came out of it disillusioned. One of the things that really struck with me was when she was asked about the legalities of using Michael Buble songs and other popular artists in her slideshows, she didn’t see it as a problem at all. That is where I lost respect, we as artists can’t expect people to not steal our images or our ideas and yet use another artists work without permission or renumeration.

    As a former Jasmine Star fan I had devoured her blog and I had read on her old blog that she had attended every workshop she could afford in her first year in photography, one of them being Jose Villa. I was fortunate enough to attend a Jose Villa workshop and have to say that I had many ‘ah ha’ moments as he went through his shooting style and business plan, it was word for word what Jasmine had taught and it became apparent that he had also inspired some of her catch phrases.

    Anyone who systematically picks out and associates with successful photographers, attends a multitude of workshops in their first year and then goes on to teaching within another year isn’t getting their information through experience. What is rather sad though is that before photography Jasmine was training as a lawyer, unfortunately it looks as though she didn’t remember any of the copyright classes.

  27. What a horrible decision.

    Yes, what they did could be considered sneaky, or even naughty. But legally punishable enough to get them hunted down and crucified, and ousted from a position where they have done infinite good for the industry? Not even close. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves for allowing this witch hunt. It is a win for the haters, admit it.

    If you want to blame anything, blame the infancy of social media itself. “Circulation without permission”, and making a few paragraphs your own, is the absolute core of social media.

    I hate to say it, but innumerable people have already gotten rich by simply “borrowing” YOUR content and re-posting it without your permission. Do you people realize that Mark Zuckerberg is now worth SIXTEEN BILLION DOLLARS because he created a seemingly legal way to do exactly what Jasmine and Doug did? Essentially, he created a platform from which he could milk $16 from each one of Facebook’s ~1 billion content-generating users. Congratulations, we’ve all been plagiarized!

    I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not saying it is (or should be) legal. I’m just pointing out that this situation in particular was an absurd witch hunt.

  28. I read Jasmine Star’s so-called apology, which comes weeks after hundreds of photographers were removed and banned from the Restart group. It made excuses, and she never REALLY apologised, not even to those whom she ripped off (publickly or privately as she claimed). She also lies about stealing images for promoting a workshop of hers. One, she is JASMINE STAR (not to mention a narcissist) so she is going to have final approval over any promo or marketing materials. Second, it’s ON HER BLOG. Thank you to WPPI for taking a stand.

  29. Oh no….. Jasmine might have to book more than 12 weddings a year now to make a living instead of making her money off of fellow photographers. From the second she said that ”you don’t need to advertise” and that booking more than 12 weddings a year would be working too much…..lol! I lost all respect. Where are the teachers who have actual content and are actually working????
    These people who are teaching and not booking 40-50 weddings a year are a joke and we as a profession need to STOP feeding them!!!

  30. The right action was taken. Regardless of how you feel about either of them or what they did, no one can dispute the fact that if they were allowed to speak at the upcoming convention, it would mean their misdeeds should be totally ignored. THAT would have been a HUGE mistake by WPPA.

    • Mr. Duenkel,
      I am glad that you as a veteran and leader in the industry is taking a stand. I believe that with fame and perceived fortune comes great responsibility. No one seems to be looking out for the new photographers who are attracted to the message but do not question the character of the persons that they are paying thousands of dollars to attend their workshops.

  31. This whole thing is about ethics or should I say, “… the lack thereof. No hate, no spite no jealousy. It has been proven these two have elected to use no ethical guidelines in their professional careers which will reflect into all aspects of their dealings both professional and personal.
    The day is long gone that those appearing on stage were simply giving back by sharing information with their peers in an attempt to raise the professional bar. It is now a popularity contest of sorts driven by money and celebrity. Our poor incredible profession has been pounded once again.

  32. Bravo to Jason and WPPI! Thank you for listening. While I did not really express either way, I have watched this develop and you have a new fan in me…. just for listening and acknowledging and not ignoring…. I know this was a difficult decision all the way around, especially with the release of the speaking schedule and planned promotion that went into that.

  33. Fuzzy is correct, “The right action was taken”. (I hope I quoted that correctly). While the plagiarism may be important, what is even a much bigger concern to me is how easily people in this industry are put on pedestals (or put themselves on pedestals) because of their personalities or their enthusiasm, rather than because of their skills as photographers or instructors.

    This may be a small but valuable turning point for the industry and for WPPI, only time will tell.

  34. I think the right thing was done for all parties involved.

    Some folks needed to be taken to the woodshed for doing some bonehead things.

    Some folks needed to blow some steam.

    Some folks needed to get a slap.

    Some folks needed to hand that slap out.

    Some folks needed to step down and back off for a bit.

    Some folks needed to moderate the cafeteria food fight and balance the ship.

    I applaud all parties involved. Thanks to those who blew the whistle. Thanks to those who called them to the mat. Thanks to those who had to call for some deserved consequences. Thanks to those who offered apologies. Thanks to those who accepted them. Thanks to those who continue to keep us in check and keep us on our toes. Thanks to those who are sweeping up the mess and reminding us to move on with our lives. It’s over folks. Move along. No one died. Stupid things happened.

    I think of a great lyric by Hilltop Hoods…

    “I gave something back so I don’t feel the need for atonement
    Cause we all get our hands dirty when we’re seizing the moment”


    I have avoided WPPI for a number of years because of the cult of personality that infected the annual convention. It was, frankly, getting out of hand. The last time I went it felt like I was at a freaking Justin Bieber concert. When I found out that Jason was now at the helm my thought was, “Thank God! There’s hope for WPPI again.” There’s no one better than Jason to lead WPPI. I applaud him the most.

    Here’s to a stirred up, shaken, and moving forward WPPI! Here’s to creatives being just that… creative. Here’s to creating original material. Here’s to raising the bar. Here’s to killing the noise and amplifying the signal! Here’s to all of us watching our own ass and making sure we run a tight ship on our feeds, our sites, and our blogs.


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  37. I for one am more excited about who WILL be speaking this year — I can’t wait to see the line up that has been chosen. This year seems promising!

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  39. GREAT news. It matters little why these two clowns are not presenting, what matters is they are NOT and the ethical photographers who support WPPI in their thousands can see that in the end honesty and ethics win!

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  42. I’m jumping in on this conversation way late, sorry. Really just catching up on this news. We all knew it wouldn’t be an easy role for you, Jason, to step into, but I think you are doing a great job. There is a lot of politics that none of us have a clue to and yet, you keep everyone happy… for the most part, I’m sure. What happened with Jasmine Star and Doug Gordon is unfortunate. But let’s remember, we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect and sometimes, perspectives can get away from us. I know that Bob and I have made our fair share of mistakes over the years, personally and professionally. These two individuals are strong, respected people who have a lot to share. I can only imagine they will make a mends and continuing educating. Gary Fong once said to me, it’s a VERY important role teachers/educators have in this world. Those who you are educating listen carefully and value what is being shared. It can’t be taken half heartedly in you want to be share your knowledge with anyone. It needs to come from a pure mind and passed on as such or else you’re taking credit for the gifts that has been given to you. If WPPI is taking a pass on them being speakers this year, then that is what needs to happen and probably not a bad idea. I hope they will be invited back. Everyone makes mistakes, and losing them is a one. I’m always so thankful when I’m forgiven, even if I don’t put my apology into the right words.