The Sad Tale of Jasmine Star and Doug Gordon


There are few photo conferences where the enthusiasm is palpable – where everyone from the doe-eyed to the veteran clamors for pearls of wisdom from an accomplished speaker roster. That’s the reality at WPPI where 13,000 wedding and portrait photographers descend upon Las Vegas in the early Spring. Unlike the run-of-the-mill photo conference, this one is filled with people looking to be inspired, and ready to carve a path in the business of photography. It is the conference of optimists and exuberance. I thoroughly enjoy it.

Jasmine Star was one of those names that would fill rooms with hundred, if not thousands of people. People counted on her anecdotes and words of wisdom to inspire their own photography. She is a rockstar in the wedding photography market – an internet famous, master marketer with good looks and an authentic demeanor that seemed perfectly suited for her audience.

But over the past few weeks, her integrity and authenticity have come into question as allegations of plagiarism in her writing and tweeting have surfaced in some pretty unambiguous ways. These revelations come on the heels of similar findings in the writings of Doug Gordon, another workshop rockstar.

With the amount of content that the two produce, it’s almost inevitable that something they say will sound similar to someone else. We all read the same blogs and industry websites, and this exposure undoubtedly affects the ideation of our thoughts and opinions over time. A few similar thoughts might be coincidental. But a slew of nearly verbatim posts is inexplicable, and it forces us to question everything. Did they really write that inspiring quote? How did they get so funny? Did Doug Gordon really license a Jason Mraz song for his website?

As the din of the allegations have grown louder, a group calling themselves “Photographers with Ethics” has started an online petition to drop both speakers from the 2014 WPPI conference. Conference director Jason Groupp has, to his credit, publicly stated that they are looking very closely at the matter and listening to all the feedback they are getting from their audience.

Power and fame are addictive. Seeing a torrent of “Likes” the moment you post an Instagram feels validating. Reading hundreds or thousands of retweets of every word you utter is like crack. And SEO algorithms actually reward content creators who yield this type of response on social media. So I can understand how it happens. I certainly don’t condone, nor do I justify the behavior, but I get it.

I also get that these photographers employ staff who ghostwrite pieces on their behalf, and perhaps there is a very logical explanation about an intern who swiped a blog entry or a tweet because their boss told them to create some content.

But when two top educators in the wedding photography field are caught in a web of plagiarism, there is an institutional problem that must be addressed. Doug apparently had a half-assed apology in July on his Facebook page that has since disappeared, and Jasmine hasn’t issued any statement whatsoever. Their behavior reflects poorly on every other photographer who is trying to carve a niche through education [disclosure: I served on a panel at WPPI 2013]. And it sucks all the good will out of the conference hall.

So let me join the chorus of critics calling for their dismissal from WPPI. No explanation or apology this late in the game will be good enough. WPPI has the power to take away Jasmine and Doug’s biggest platform while taking a stand for credibility and intellectual property. It’s the right thing to do, and the right thing for the business.

About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and Co-founder of PhotoShelter. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article originally appeared here.

  • ande

    I consider pirated material different b/c those who download music aren’t claiming as their own. It’s no different than making compilation tapes way back when. Hypothetically, if someone puts a song on a CD mix they make for me, I may go buy the album. Taking someone’s work and saying it is your own is another thing entirely.

  • Darren D. Stoner

    I’ve never heard of her.

  • NicGrioghar

    he who has not sinned…. apparently the author of this article and most of the folks commenting are PERFECT and have NEVER done anything wrong. They blew it and they got caught. It wasn’t right but it wasn’t murder so why are you putting them on death row?

  • FullMetalPhotog

    I worked for Pulitzer Inc., Lee Enterprises, Scripts League, freelance for AP and many other publications for the last 20 years. There is not a single news organization or publication that would touch or look at anything Jasmine Star or Doug Gordon has produced let alone print or host it, because of the plagiarism.

    They have lost all credibility as an information source. They are tainted sources. If They were journalists or photojournalists their careers would be over. No one would hire them to write even obits.

    Granted I am not a nice person, but there is no excuse for what They did and yes Jasmine Star has yet to admit what she did in her apology. There is no difference from what they did and someone stealing photos claiming those images as their own.

    Yes, they stole words, but there is no difference. I might be more sympathetic but their so called apologies were for clerical errors not for stealing someones work. They have yet to take responsibility for their actions. Their hectic life is not an excuse. Until they comes clean on what they did, they will always be a tainted source.

  • Omar Vale

    Interesting being that she is a preacher’s daughter.

  • Omar Vale

    Interesting being that she is a preacher’s daughter.

  • omar vale

    That’s the same feeling i got GP when i saw some of his workshops

  • asdfjklkl

    “She is a rockstar in the wedding photography market” – this statement alone has me shaking my head. Another notch in the de-evolution of mankind!

  • Lorri A

    Maybe the mistake was in getting caught . . . . that’s the way it reads to me.

  • C Sab

    I just looked up Chase Jarvis. Yup, that guy clearly seems to think that he’s an actual rockstar. What a self-glorifying poser.

  • C Sab

    Honestly, she’s an overrated hack with mediocre marketing/public speaking skills. That’s it. I’ve watched her stuff, my N-Photo magazines were more informative and entertaining than she is.

  • P. Opie Jacques

    These two thieves should be throw out of WPPI, the nerve to steal from others is so low. The professionals that have put so much work into building there business, and have ass*&$@ steal there work is just pond scum!

  • ron

    I would rather be inspired by some random Russian mother’s pictures of her kids than these so called ‘top’ photographers.

  • Tom

    Doogie Gordon is still going to be at WPPI, at the Nikon booth….kinda embarrasses me that Nikon is supporting him, after the huge backlash against him. He’s simply a marketing tool. And I mean “tool”.

  • LuckyCharm

    I saw a photo of Jasmine Star and Susan Stripling at one of Zack Arias’s workshops way back when they were just starting out. Susan Stripling has gone on to become a really amazing photographer with amazing work ethic, But Jasmine Star is still amateur in my eyes. Marketing is an amazing thing, How people find her so cool is beyond me. Its like she’s agony aunt of the photography world with all these videos…

  • ThisGuy

    Jasmine Star is annoying as f*** With her stupid made up words and “gorg” “love, love” Jesus, I want to rip my ears off. And guys, stop saying she is hot. She is not hot. She is not even mildly attractive.

  • ThisGuy

    She suuuuuuuuucks. Period