Did Wedding Videography ‘Teacher’ Rob Adams Steal His Spiel From a Peer?

(Private Video — Use password “stolen”)

Often there’s a fine line between inspiration and theft. But watching side-by-side comparisons of wedding workshops conducted by videographers Adam Forgione and Rob Adams, it’s hard not to conclude there’s wholesale plagiarism going on.

Forgione, a well-established pro who co-founded Pennylane Productions and has helped train other shooters for years via workshops and instructional videos, recently posted the comparison video on Vimeo. He notes that Adams attended one of his workshops in 2011 and later purchased a companion DVD.

The video shows instance after instance of Adams dispensing advice, from how to pace video with the wedding music to smoothly incorporating guests into footage, in an almost word-for-word echo of Forgione’s spiel.

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Some of the ideas are pretty standard stuff for anyone in the business, but others are pretty original to Forgione. And in many cases, Adams’ wording and specific choices (right down to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” as an example of waltz time) are exact mirrors of what Forgione teaches.

Adams has yet to respond on any of the sites or Facebook pages he maintains for his video and teaching business, and he’s still scheduled to teach (with wife and business partner Vanessa Joy) at the January Imaging USA conference in Phoenix. Supporters at venues reporting the alleged theft aren’t exactly doing him favors, either. Sample defense theory: “Perhaps they read the same user manuals!!!”

If all of this sounds depressingly familiar, your probably thinking of star photographers Jasmine Star and Doug Gordon, outed, shamed and shunned this year for swiping marketing/inspirational copy from other sites.

(via SLR Lounge and Photo Stealers)

  • Fullstop

    WHOA! You conveniently forgot to mention that BOTH are scheduled to be a speaker at WPPI next year. It will be interesting to see if WPPI drops Rob Adams from the lineup now making it 3 speakers dropped for plagiarism. Man I would not want to be in the shoes of the WPPI decision makers.
    First Jasmine and Doug, now Rob? What is it with these people?

  • The_Michael

    The twitter account “RobAdamsFilms” doesn’t appear to exist anymore but Google Heaven has a cached version from a couple of days ago…

  • BrutalPunishmentForInfringers

    I love how the thief didn’t even understand what 4/4 time is. Criminal and idiot – what a great combo! Die in a fire, asshole.

  • 423

    seriously? Do you realise, that this is completely normal. Would you except that someone learning something in a history class or get a degree from history, than would have to tell something completely different when teaching it to somebody else? There is always a great chance if you are a teacher, that people will follow your lead and eventually, some of your knowledge will spread on. And furthermore ideas are not copyrighted.

  • David J. Nightingale

    “You cannot ‘copyright an idea’, but copyright will apply to a recorded work that realises your ideas.”

  • Alex Minkin

    wrong. did you bother watching the video, or at least read the article before you spout off unrelated copyright statements? this dude didnt say the same recorded, historical facts, he nearly verbatim delivered the exact same lesson, instead of creating his own based off of what he’s learned.

    I teach workshops, and I teach material I’ve learned from other photographers, but unless I’m specifically citing something that I can’t figure out a better way to describe, I at least come up with something to add, subtract, or describe better, not regurgitate their lesson and pass it off as my own.

  • Fullstop

    Watch the video and then reassess what you’ve said prematurely.

  • GoboTog

    ugh I just cringe watching this video.

  • Fullstop

    Why? Because it’s talking about wedding video?

  • ThievesLiars

    it’s about time. His wife is a thief too. They think because they are good looking that they can get away with things. BOUT TIME

  • Donald Giannatti

    Ask yourself this: If your kid came home with a note from his english teacher stating that little Johnny had memorized the paper of another student and presented it as his own, how would you react? Would it be one of “hey, there’s nothing wrong with that, since there really isn’t anything new under the sun…?” Or would you think that little Johnny needed to be taught some lessons?

    I know which way I would go.

  • Renato Murakami

    That is blatant plagiarism and it needs to be treated like so. End of story.

  • Fullstop

    Well don’t leave us hanging. Which way would you go ??

  • Ferrell McCollough

    It’s close to verbatim in some parts but do we don’t know if Rob Adams gives his teacher credit. Either way, If you don’t want someone like a student re-teaching secrets and concepts that are valuable to you, then don’t teach. Why would you expect them to NOT take away your buzz words and concepts? It’s like a cook saying “hey I taught them to cook and now they are teaching others my exact recipe, they can’t do that legally.” That’s life.

  • Ferrell McCollough

    That is entirely different, this is a teacher/student relationship. I’d even go further and say that some teachers learn from their students and repeat the student verbatim.

  • Fullstop

    What did his wife steal?

  • Jim Johnson

    Don’t confuse plagiarism with copyright theft. You are correct, ideas are not copyrighted. That is the reason stealing original ideas or works is called plagiarism.

  • Jim Johnson

    If that is the case, the teacher is committing plagiarism. Anytime you present another person’s original thoughts, ideas, or works as your own, you are committing plagiarism (otherwise known as intellectual dishonesty/fraud). It does not matter the relationship.

  • Jim Johnson

    Recipes are not copyrighted for a very specific reason, they are considered basic instructions that any reasonably skilled person could figure out on their own. The same is true for basic photography skills. However, this is using very specific and original phrases and ideas and passing them off without credit. If he does credit his teacher, he is not plagiarizing, but he is not offering an original class, his class.

  • Jim Johnson

    Watching that video was really creepy.

    It was like watching a kid imitate an adult. He gets all the basic stuff down, and is repeating what he has heard, but it makes you wonder how much of it he understands.

    I really cringed when they were describing the same microphones. It was similar to watching two actors performing from the same script.

  • sell_him

    Do you really think that the information provided by amazing teachers and photogs such as Kelby or the great David Nightingale who posted below, is 100% original material that has never been presented or handed down before?

    Do you think that the courses which we pay hundreds or thousands for from these great teachers, can not be learnt in a book or free off the web?

    The guy is another medium presenting information that is freely available on the web today. How he obtained that information is up to him, pay someone to teach him, or do all the research himself and build up the knowledge over time it has the same ending that this guy wants to teach his knowledge to others.

    The presentation from the 2nd guy looked more engaging and more advanced to me. I’d prefer to receive the same info from him.

    People on here just look to express hate at every opportunity. But the fact is there is nothing legally wrong with what he did, and if you claim it’s wrong by moral standards…. well who’s moral standards? yours or theirs? No one put you in charge!

  • Bewar3them00n

    Not good, if a student copies another’s work, it’s classed as plagiarism, like others have stated, if you’re not adding to the source material, by interpreting it and integrating it into your own work, then, you’re in trouble, it was ingrained in me early on at school to actually understand the source material, and filter it thru your own frame of reference.

  • donniefitz2

    Watching the video, I have to conclude that the student ripped the master off. It’s a shame how many “teachers” there are in this industry. I’m a programmer and if you try to sell yourself as an expert, as a teacher, you’d better have proof, or you’ll be destroyed. There is no mercy for this type of thing where I come from.

  • Fullstop

    Where do you come from?

  • Fullstop

    I’m curious to see how WPPI responds with this being their third speaker they will have to pull the plug on in one year, and a well liked one at that.
    That’s a hard pill to swallow when they already lost a significant # of attendees from DG and J* not to mention that the numbers from last year were already down to begin with.

  • Fullstop

    Did he sleep with your wife? This is no way to go about getting even. He won’t even see this.

  • red

    What I want to know is if they have permision to use the Piano Man song. Either of them.

  • red


  • Jim Johnson

    Realistically, I can’t see how they can not pull him out of the line up since the others “withdrew” when they were caught out.

    Then again, depending on his ego, Rob Adams may be the first they have to actually kick to the curb, and it may be a tense time for them.

  • red

    Generally, although plagiarism is often loosely referred to as theft or stealing, it has not been set as a criminal matter in the courts.

    ps: I plagiarized this statement.

  • Jim Johnson

    They don’t have to. Fair usage allows for use in education, critique, and demonstration as long as you only use as much as you need to make your point. In this case the point was that it was a waltz and in 6/8 time. There might be an issue if either of them let it run for any length of time in the background without comment on it.

  • Benicio Murray

    Rob Adams should be on the phone right now with Adam Forgione explaining himself.

  • James

    Before condemning this man, I would like to hear from Adam Forgione. How do we know that they don’t have a partnership or agreement?

  • Kaybee

    I am so embarrassed for Rob Adam… He should have learnt and inculcated the ideas and teachings into his own style rather than copying so shamelessly… It felt awkward to watch the video… Nothing really is much original but how one executes the idea and knowledge with one’s own style is very important…

  • Jake Brown

    The info they’re giving is industry standard; however, he is definitely stealing the presentation style.

  • Jake Brown

    It sucks that this guy is so successful as a teacher when he is ripping completely from another person. The things they are teaching are industry standard of high-quality wedding films. Just change the teaching method and he would be fine…

  • Ferrell McCollough

    From the age of one we all learn and mimic those we admire. As we grow up we have role models and we want to emulate them. Some of us are good at repackaging what we’ve learned so it’s not obvious we “took it” while some of us are terrible at it. The fact is, we are all biters of varying degrees.

  • Fullstop

    Rob apparently responded on behind the shutter’s blog

  • Fullstop

    Um, because Adam probably made this video? What?

  • Fullstop

    True, but as anyone knows the process, they likely asked those speakers to resign so they wouldn’t have to publicly kick them out. Either way this is so stupid. Bunch of self important self absorbed personalities.

  • David Vaughn

    I imagine it’s because spoken words (even when recorded) aren’t seen as creative property as often as other works. And when people do use others’ words, I imagine they rationalize it as “well, it’s different ENOUGH. Surely I won’t get in trouble.”

    I just think it’s incredibly disrespectful to the photographer’s audience. In terms of workshops, these people are probably paying upwards of $500-1500 for listen to what they have to say.

    When people plagiarize, they not only hurt their reputation among your peers, but also with the people who looked up to you, and the sad part is that many don’t really care, because they’re going to continue making money one way or another.

    I wish fame/fortune didn’t undermine dignity, but unfortunately, it does.

  • Fullstop

    I wish these things as well. Maybe with the combined power of our wishes it may come true.

  • beeveedee

    I am flinging no arrows in this debate. What I hate is the witch hunts that have started, smacking a bit of a some sort of McCarthyism… With the direction the industry has taken in recent years, perhaps it can’t be helped that people end up repeating what they’ve heard and learned. Becoming a name in photography/videography now is as much about selling how you do it as it is what you do. The industry is ripe with personal blog posts, teaching videos, “buy my dvds & books”… so that your career is as much about selling yourself as it is doing what you do.

    When you sit under someone’s instruction, when you immerse yourself in their teaching, it is very hard not to talk that way yourself. Is this plagiarism? Rob Adams himself pointed out in a response that select moments were pulled from the hours and hours of the his total presentation, and that he drew on other teachers that he’s learned from. Unless you look at the whole thing side by side, I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    I am a graphic designer, as well as a sometime photographer, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve designed a logo and wondered “was I influenced too closely by something else I’ve seen?” Where does influence stop and rip-off begin? I’ve seen other designers directly rip-off graphic designs done before—often because of poor ethics, lack of inspiration and time pressures. Influencing, I believe, occurs as a result of spending hours watching, learning, looking at design trends, so that when you approach a new project you can’t help but have assimilated what you’ve seen and learned and you filter it thru your own skills and design sense to create a new work that gives a nod to others but is not EXACTLY like it. There’s an old saying: “There are no new graphic ideas, only ones restated.”

    I think we need to be very careful in pointing fingers, slinging insults and fanning flames. Perhaps there needs to be a closer look at the cult and industry of selling how you do what you do to augment the income of what you actually do… And then maybe not get upset when there are a bunch of baby yous running around.

  • Fullstop

    Witch hunts are so popular because it gives people the freedom to completely go off on someone because of whatever the offense is and almost nothing they say can be over the line. In reality the people who show the most disdain for the perp are usually compensating for lack of something in their life, and instead of dealing with it internally they choose to lash out at a guilty party with never ending piling on.
    It’s like why the bad guy in movies can always be a Nazi because it’s impossible to defend them and no one feels any pity for them no matter what the punishment is.

  • Fullstop

    The only biters I know of are in the walking dead.

  • Dave Doeppel

    Education is completely different than a paid workshop.

  • fool


  • Fullstop

    Calm down. Get back to wrapping your presents.

  • durgrud

    are you stupid or something?

  • durgrud

    We all learn from one another to better our self. We do not word for word emulate and reenact and copy each other. This is such a stupid and useless defense. The guy went out of his way to rip off some one elses material. Maybe one day he will try to do this to Joe Roggan and then all the idiots like you will shut up.