Jason Lanier Controversy

Jason Lanier is a highly accomplished photographer; it’s hard not to find a YouTube video of his when you search Rotolight or Sony.

With various allegations made by and against him, and YouTube photographers trying my patience more and more each day, I decided to spend hours, and I mean hours, investigating the controversy surrounding Jason Lanier. I have investigated claims made by various ex-employees, models, assistants, workshop attendees, Ken Wheeler and more. I urge Jason Lanier’s hard-core fans to approach his destruction with their minds open. Don’t simply discredit everyone else because he’s passed all the blame onto Ken Wheeler.

- At the bottom of this article is a list of notes, sources and allegations.
- I will be adding more bits of evidence soon.
- I believe I have gathered enough evidence to prove quite a bit but if you have more, I would still like it.
- I've now added an NDA related document.

Jason Lanier Misconduct Allegations

I’ve shot one paid shoot involving a human and that sums up my portraiture portfolio. Don’t judge this article based on my photographs but rather my reasoning. I pride myself in being—for the most part—a decent and rational person. I’m not a better photographer than Jason Lanier any-more than he’s a better singer than R. Kelly (though it wouldn’t surprise me if they have some stuff in common). I picked that name out of a hat; it seems there’s plenty more where that came from.

I used to watch YouTube photography entertainers with the utmost respect but now it seems full to the brim with disgusting behaviour. Ken Wheeler was always an exception to the rule… I never respected him to begin with. I viewed his channel as a dark shadow over the head of the online photographic community as a whole. I believed he’d cause a massive loss of sales for Sony cameras; he’d put fear, uncertainty and doubt into new photographers, and generally deracinate every online community he’d sink his teeth into. 

He can claim certain cameras are fragile and try worry us; he can tell us he’s a broke chess champion, marksman, expert cave-diver, sky-diver, cyclist, philosopher, lens expert, camera technician, and translator who’s never tried to sell anything, but many of these claims are easily refuted:

His videos are usually always fictitious, illogical and incoherent; for this reason, it saddened me to hear any of the models had contacted him at all. That said, I understand. Lesson for everyone: your enemy’s enemy isn’t always your friend. I don’t dislike Ken Wheeler because of how “brusk” he is (as per his claim on instagram, “ehh, the english are always shitting on me, they hate how brusk i am, ….its that wormy british thing, they hate “in your face” people.”); I dislike him because he is a bad person. I believe Ken Wheeler cares more about hurting Jason Lanier’s career than he has compassion for any possible victims. He’s not alone with this way of thinking; Amar Talwar (“passion and mastery of light”) promptly blocked me when I stated Ken Wheeler had limited involvement with the ex-employees.

Jason on the other hand wasn’t perceived by me as a mad hatter who’d played with mercury too much (sorry for my humour; I am going for a hat-trick). He’s not my favourite photographer (Joey Lawrence and Lara jade’s work appeals to me more) but I respected what I felt deserved to be respected. I’d emailed him in the past a few times for various reasons actually trying to help him (for the record, all emails, including recent ones were ignored; some were terrible anyway); one was a removal request.

Regardless of what was said in my emails; there’s no denying the fact I felt something wasn’t right about his channel. I stopped watching it as frequently when I saw his video entitled: “Why WIDE Matters- Sony G Master 85mm f/1.4 vs. Zeiss Batis f/1.8 w/ the A7Rii by Jason Lanier” 

In that video, at 19:52, he says “so guys any questions?” and when asked about the weight difference between the two lenses being discussed, he promptly lies by saying “it is imperceptible.

Facts:

  • Sony 85mm f/1.4 gm = 820g (28.9 oz). Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 = 452g (15.9 oz).
  • Sony 85mm f/1.4 gm lens is 81.4% heavier.
  • Jason and three others contradict the facts. The first dude says there’s only “half an ounce” difference. The middle dude has a possible tell (touches his lip after his claim) after lying. The last dude repeats (possible tell) “they’re the same“.
  • Side note: the model had an Instagram account, it now seems to have either been deleted or changed.

This, seemingly irrelevant video shows Jason Lanier lies without pause and the people around him lie for his cause. How would you feel if you were Zeiss and you’d designed a product to be lightweight, and then some dude, literally sponsored by your partner company, lies about it? It’s unethical.

Sony Side Up

Hopefully by now it’s readily apparent that I started this endeavour not as a die-hard fan of either. I was always on the side of the true victim(s) but I didn’t really know who he/she/they were; at first, I assumed it was Jason Lanier. I thought I’d talk to a bunch of people, shake the tree and see what fell from it. Taken out of context, it might seem two-faced but I was genuinely confused.

I emailed and DM’d previous models, Emily Rinaldo (Jason Lanier’s assistant), Jason Lanier himself, etc. I whois’d websites, I checked his lawyer out, I hunted through Jason Lanier’s meetup profile; I dug into emails to find IP’s and consequently locations. I looked through countless AirBnB properties within Detroit; I looked into crime statistics (interestingly; where Jade shot was ranked 2/100 on a safe scale; 100 being the safest i.e. her story checks out). To cover unknown knowns, I spoke with experienced, award winning models with no affiliation to Jason Lanier or bias; I spoke to photographers; and I basically did a lot of simple but time consuming work to establish the truth.

As time passed and I gathered more evidence, it became clear the models and their working environment with Jason Lanier was considerably different than what was described by Jason Lanier or portrayed in ANY of his videos. Consequently, my reasoning for investigating changed. If I was in a position to help them, I would. Most of them just want to put the truth out there and they expressed they’re not trying really hard to change minds. Their intent isn’t that important as long as they’re being truthful about Jason Lanier, but I do want to change peoples’ minds; I’ve seen the comments left on YouTube towards these girls; some of the comments are truly sickening. I want you to believe the truth. I want you to defend the rightful victims. Jason wanted a “she said vs she said”, but within one hour of the first video—made by Jade—being uploaded, it promptly disappeared. Is it a “she said vs she said” only on Jason Lanier’s terms then? He requests a trial-by-social-media (is that a thing now then?) but only wants one video to be heard? That’s about as logical as having a defendant’s mouth taped shut in court.

I was asked by Emily Rinaldo to give my opinion on Jason Lanier’s video, and she thanked me:

I would have liked to ask her more about this but she blocked me after this last comment. I leave it up to you to decide whether you think it was block-worthy. I didn’t think so and that put a bolt of lightning in me to investigate further—the “firewall” that kept the fire going. The reason it’s not showing as “seen” is another story, but she read it. Side-note; I hope you like the second screenshot. I never sent this to anyone prior to uploading here, yet Joyce in her video speaks of 20 hour shifts. Epic firewall.

Jason Lanier is in syzygy with Ken Wheeler, but his models don’t orbit him

Writing this article has had me stumped; I am not sure what’s the best way to express my feelings towards Jason Lanier’s video entitled “The Truth about Jade Galloway, Sierra Green and Lies- Toxic Ken Wheeler and Building Your Firewall” but I’ll try my best… So let’s start with the main theme/claim behind the video and take it from there… 

Claim: Jason stated Ken Wheeler has groomed and “corrupted” ex-employees.
Anti-argument: The odd bit of contact doesn’t mean corruption.

I have found no evidence to suggest Ken Wheeler’s involvement with the models is as per Jason Lanier’s claims (at the time of Jason Lanier’s YouTube video being uploaded that is—whether they had further involvement with him after the fact is irrelevant). The majority did not contact him; he chimed in on what was said in his usual hyperbolic fashion but that doesn’t make him some kind of puppet master for every “disgruntled” ex-employee; moreover, even if it were true that he spoke to every model, it doesn’t refute the claims made by said models; it doesn’t prove he manipulated them.

If Jason Lanier’s statement is true in that he completely manipulated them to the point they had no control, his grievance should be with Ken Wheeler and ONLY Ken Wheeler. In the same way you wouldn’t punish a victim with Stockholm Syndrome… You’d take pity on them: not pity in the sense of calling them entitled spoiled brats and generally being an unprofessional bully (1:08).

If the majority of Jason Lanier’s statements are true, he should have taken the high road, filed a lawsuit against Ken Wheeler and repaired friendships. Instead, he shows the world he insults his staff. In the very least, this gives a bad message to an audience.

But you see, leaving snide remarks to Jade happened long before Ken Wheeler had said anything:

This might just be his way of talking but I notice with Emily Rinaldo it’s a different, complimentary, but more sterile tone.

Claim: Jason claims Ken Wheeler is an obsessed stalker.
Anti-argument: They wear the same hat (I’m specifically talking about their obsession; I am not implying Ken Wheeler is a sexual predator).

Jason’s borderline refuted his own argument when he said Ken Wheeler has also attacked “Tony Northrup”, “Matt Granger” and he hates everything happy. It’s rare (never happened before?) for someone to spread hate evenly and be obsessed with and stalk a WHOLE BUNCH of people. I accept he might be like the crazy dude in a high rise hotel taking pot-shots at people, but that’s not strictly stalking. There is no evidence to suggest Ken Wheeler is more obsessed with Jason Lanier than the other way around; sorry, should I call him “Kendra”? Jason, if you’d like an AUDIO RECORDING to remind you of what I’m talking about, let me know [*n1].

It’s unreasonable to claim a model is manipulated; imply that person(s) is crazy and borderline say they’re mentally ill, and then expect them to have full culpability: 18 U.S. Code § 17. Insanity defence.

Moreover, disclosing personal information said in confidence is pretty vile; you might find that it even breaks some privacy laws (depending on the country and whatnot). In the very least, it’s disgusting.

Furthermore, it is unlikely Ken Wheeler would have a 100% success rate with every ex-employee i.e. eventually he would try to “groom” or control one and it would fail; they would have gone to Jason Lanier in private and I believe we’d have seen it as part of his video.

Idle lips are the devils mouthpiece

Once the main claim was thrown out of the equation, I began researching on a claim-by-claim basis.

Body language:

I watched the video again but this time it was to judge body language alone. I noticed his pupils only ever really pointed to one position but maybe that’s just his way of talking. He does the same when he’s lying (I refer back to the first video I linked with the lens comparison) and as such, it’s not conclusive. If you have a psychologist friend, maybe they can share more. There’s so many retakes/clips in the editing and an annoying drum beat, so I can’t really judge breathing patterns or anything too much. It’s better than the Fifty Shades of Taken video (“Ken Wheeler- Photography’s National Enquirer- Trolling Gone Too Far. Lies, Fraud, Theft & Deception”).

A few of my friends are models and I also have a few professional photographer friends. I tend to surround myself with good people and I’m thankful that they helped me with this as I am inexperienced:

  • One model said 7/10 photographers are creepy. Many have great work and are professional during the shoot but it doesn’t mean anything in terms of their creepiness.
  • Entourages make it difficult to be creepy during the shoot itself.
  • There are many, freely available models available on modelmayhem.
  • Often times, it’s when the photographer is more relaxed with the model that he becomes creepy. Interestingly, Jason Lanier claimed this about the models. To me it seems like auto-criticism is an ever-present theme amongst his entire video.

My Photographer friends also gave me useful information:

  • They told me that they wouldn’t have models in their room, regardless of the circumstance.
  • If you keep having this problem and you are running the show, then you are obviously running the show poorly.
  • Even if Jason Lanier is innocent (they don’t think he is), what he described wouldn’t have happened if he was more professional.

Under the hat

Claim: Jason implies/claims money was fairly tight at a certain point.
Anti-argument: Irrelevant at the time many/all of the alleged instances took place.

I have my doubts that Jason Lanier’s budget was ever as tight as implied. He went on a Safari before being quite as popular on YouTube and this would have costed a fair amount. Prior to being a photographer, he worked at Marriot hotels; I believe he held a managerial position. All of this is pretty by-the-by though because at the time of the shoots taking place, he was earning a lot. Please refer to my meetup earnings document.

At the prices Jason Lanier charges he can afford experienced, older models and he can afford proper accommodation. I’m not going into the he said vs she said vs whatever just yet; by his own admission, the accommodation obviously didn’t work properly.

I went on modelmayhem and I could not find a model as young as Jade; I believe he stumbled upon her in a mall. Regardless of whether this specific detail is accurate; modelmayhem has plenty of 23-33 year old models.

The devil’s in the details

I am not a huge lover of labelling fallacies but in most cases, Jason Lanier’s arguments either take things out of context, poison the well or attack the person and not the argument.

When I chatted with the models, they told me little stories and snip-bits of information. I saw private information (I’m not willing to share it but if this goes to court I will) and naturally I questioned it at first. Interestingly I’d hear something like “Jason talks about six sigma”; I’d look into Marriot hotel management and you guessed it… They use “six sigma” speeches. There’s far too much for it all to be made up.

I’d ask my friend (model) about diet and she’d call me an idiot (she means it in the nicest way possible :D). Basically insinuating that the idea models should eat the same diet as the photographer is utterly ridiculous. I mean just look at them in those videos; DO THEY LOOK LIKE THEY EAT THE SAME DIET?

I didn’t want to press any of the models too much (it’s not pleasant reliving past experiences) so I ended up going through a bunch of calendar dates and cross referencing them. Sure enough there’s some dude complaining [*n2]:

Interestingly, his profile is currently quite positive. Jason Lanier did not make any public comments to apologise or whatnot.

Claims and concerns regarding the NDA make sense. I faced an employer who was a bully; he used the exact same NDA tactics to threaten me; he tried to keep all of the writers & editors separate. Weird huh? I have the DVD with old emails, so if anyone’s interested I can show it. I’m no expert (I’m just good at asking people who are), especially with US law, but NDA’s aren’t always automatically invalidated because of other crimes; the “privilege to disclose” is a legal definition of breaching an NDA in the event of crime or public safety or health. In other words, in many cases, crime or potential crime does allow you the privilege to disclose information.

Given the the contract/job role changed (potentially requiring a separate/different NDA), other women are at risk and previous crimes have been committed, and the fact Jason’s a bully (I believe signing an NDA “under duress” automatically invalidates it), I believe it would be a mistake for Jaques the Ripper (he’s not an actual ripper, I just thought the name sounded catchy) to chase these models on an NDA claim [*n4]

The complaint of Jason Lanier’s about being a storage system is valid; but at the same time it’s not. In my opinion, a professional should agree to keep the data for a minimum of one year (preferably two). There’s no point arguing much here though because he’s comfortable keeping a bunch of video footage. Video footage takes up a lot more data…

The models don’t seem to be as high maintenance as claimed. In many parts of Jason’s video, they looked like girls goofing around. It’s interesting to me that Jade commented on the US making her feel uncomfortable; I had the exact same experience with my US Visa interview. Canadian officials on the other hand were highly polite and nice (irrelevant I know). Unrelated but camping in Canada is also great fun (I didn’t appreciate a bear roaring at me, haha); yes, campers are low maintenance. 

Subtle jabs about models not having jobs do not entirely ring true… Sierra had a job prior to modelling. Aly is obviously a really talented dancer. It might seem like I’m spewing off random sentences, but these little details add up. None of these girls needed Jason Lanier, they just thought they did.

When I first started asking questions, if they were lying they could have said “sorry this is upsetting me too much and I don’t feel like talking” or they could have blocked me (Emily blocked me) to avoid being caught out. Instead they gave plenty of information and it was either unfalsifiable (i.e. I simply couldn’t find evidence one way or the other) or it checked out.

There were other weird things, like I’d look at screenshots they took of conversations with Jason Lanier and after two—it was usually always two—messages, if the model didn’t respond he would send another message in a clingy-fashion. It’s stereotypical control-freak behaviour. For example, he’d say “it looks like you’ve gone to bed” trying to subtly grab the persons attention. Except… It’s not subtle; it is not subtle at all! It was argued he had a second phone. This was proven accurate by Jason Lanier himself, when he said he has a business and home phone (I can’t remember where I heard him say it. I think it was in the Fifty Shades of Taken video). 

The little details on their own don’t mean much, but the falsifiable ones were proven accurate. Jason Lanier on the other hand has what? Some video of a shoot where the models are told to be on best behaviour? I mean, no one can honestly believe those are 100% genuine. If you were him running a business, you would probably tell your staff to be friendly. Even the staff in Walmart are told to smile at the customers! It helps sell your brand. I just hope you wouldn’t ask them in your bed, ask them to change their “love language” and imply they have to get nude to boost their career. It sounds so creepy. It is beyond creepy.

Hats off

I’m naturally suspicious of people and if you are too, I get it; you’re probably wondering why I’ve spent so much time on this given it won’t benefit me at all (I think I’ve disabled advertisements on this):

It started off as a bit of a selfish endeavour for the photographic community because I assumed Ken Wheeler was behind some conspiracy. For that, I feel guilty… After researching, I genuinely felt I had to help.

When I was younger, I was treated pretty poorly by a lot of people and no one really helps in a lot of situations. After it, you’re left wondering if there is a combination of words you could have used to prevent something from happening; you assume that you made a mistake and so it’s your fault. I don’t have any trouble with people now (I’m 6ft3 and physically fit… good luck with that) but it was a thing. To an extent, you blame yourself more than the aggressor. It’s like a cut that won’t heal. If I don’t stand up for the rightful victims, seemingly no one else will. I’ve looked at the YouTube and Instagram comments—it’s truly disgusting. Many are so heartless or just like the drama of it.

In Jason Lanier’s video, little clips were taken and he would portray these women as vapid, spiteful little “brats” who were a loose cannon. Yet in their videos, they are highly articulate (if you think it’s easy talking for 30+ minutes in front of a camera, try it yourself; Jason Lanier obviously cannot do it as his video has a million cuts) people. They’re a lot more genuine than he makes them seem. They’re the kind of people I’d want to be friends with and Jason certainly isn’t in ANY of his videos—long before these allegations were made.

Never give up on your dreams? Jason Lanier crushed theirs. Even if the sexual allegations were false (I believe they’re true), he runs his company SO POORLY that no one should want to work for him at all. I am not saying that out of jealousy; I know he’s a better photographer than me.

On a personal level, it’s so sad these women will probably never trust another man the same way again. They are not stupid for falling into his trap; they didn’t make a mistake per se. Anymore than if they walked outside and lightning hit them on the head. Jason Lanier, you deceived them. It’s on your website that you don’t pay the models but you lead people to believe this is normal.

I’m expecting Jaques the ripper to email me; S’all good man. He has more pressing issues to deal with, such as the fact he’s a lawyer specialising in “Invasion of Privacy”, “Media & Communications” and “Cyber Law” yet runs a website that literally doesn’t have a decent security system in place:

You’ll be lucky if I even open an email from him in fear it’s a virus [*n3]. Just kidding; if you want to send a cease and desist I will read it.

Sources

List of allegations:

- Hostile work environment (own goal i.e. demonstrated in his own video)
- Inciting hatred (own goal)
- Putting models/employees at risk i.e. violating health and safety (arguably an own goal)
- Failure to provide adequate accommodation for staff (own goal)
- Inciting hatred in person (own goal)
- Inciting hatred online (own goal)
- Disclosing private information about an ex-employee (own goal)
- Defamation (own goal)
- Slander (own goal)
- Libel (own goal)
- Overworking staff (own goal -- Emily Rinaldo)
- False/misleading advertising (UK shoot; therefore, UK legislation/law)
- Exploiting power
- Failure to pay minimum wage

- Racial/religious hatred
- Sexual assault of both adult and minor
- Sexual harassment of both adult and minor
- Requesting an NDA be signed by a minor without a parent of guardian present
- Blackmail to sign an NDA
- Withholding money without consent

My documents:

- Jason's Meetup Earnings
- Jason's Video Timeline
- JLi NDA Related Document
- JLi Evidence
- JLi More Stuff
- JLi Ken Wheeler Document
- JLi Email Doc (possibly sent from Ken Wheeler)

Related:

- We stand together YouTube channel
- Jason Lanier, Fifty Shades of Taken
- Jason Lanier, The truth about
- Experiences with Jason Lanier - Workshop Attendee

Other sources:

- Health & Safety
- Hostile work environment
- False advertising UK law (1)
- False advertising UK law (2)
- Working hours UK law
- Labor and Employment Californian Law
- Mann Act

Addendum:

- [*n1] An ex-model did not supply me with this information. I suggest you speak a bit quieter on coaches next time.
- [*n2] Jay C complains the workshop was not in the location advertised and that it would not make it to a YouTube video. Jason Lanier did not publicly apologise on the Meetup page.
- [*n3] My website is terrible too but I am not on a Lawyer salary and even I have set up SSL, lol.
- [*n4] These two paragraphs need re-writing, because I now have the NDA and it's a mess.

P.S Jason; a message to you. If this were a video, I guess I’d have to leave some pseudo-threatening gibberish at the end, right? I’ll write it in between parenthesis: [ __ ].

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8 thoughts on “Jason Lanier Controversy”

  1. It is with much interest I follow the Jason Lanier saga. I started viewing his videos a couple of years ago because I thought he was quite a talented photographer and I could learn from his techniques. I always thought it odd that he travelled the world with these young models in tow. I wondered why his wife would have no trouble with this arrangement. After watching the models videos, it appears that my suspicions could be true. On a live video chat Lanier had a couple of days ago, I asked him why Sony and Rotolite pulled their sponsorships. He told me to crawl back under my rock and abruptly deleted me. Too bad these women have had to deal with all these issues. I really feel for them. As for Lanier, it looks like he killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

    1. Hello. Do you have proof of this? Thank you for your comment. Yes I really pity the women too, it is sad.

      1. Proof that he deleted me because of my comment? I don’t know whether he’s left the video on his Facebook page because I can’t access it anymore. It was a live Q&A feed on his Jason Lanier University Facebook page from a few days ago. He said on air, “Can we get rid of this guy?” I was deleted a second later.

        1. Any proof at all is good :). To answer your question regarding Rotolight… I will be disclosing more information on that soon.

  2. Thank you so much for this, we appreciate you standing up for us and our #WeStandTogether movement.

    We just want future models/employees/independent contractors/volunteers to know exactly who they are “getting in bed with” (that actually worked out well) before they make any commitment.

    Thank you again

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