Jason Lanier is a highly accomplished photographer with various accusations made against him. Most people will know him from YouTube — especially if they have invested in Rotolight or Sony camera equipment.
Jason Lanier Controversy & Accusations
With various allegations made by and against Jason Lanier, and YouTube photographers trying my patience more and more each day, I decided to spend hours investigating various claims made by various ex-employees, models, assistants, workshop attendees, Ken Wheeler, Jason Lanier himself and more. I urge everyone to approach this mess with their minds open. Don’t simply discredit something because Ken Wheeler’s name has been attached to this controversy.
Sources cannot always be revealed so any article published has to be a bit vague; additionally, articles like this can generate an “us vs them” mentality unfortunately but there’s not an awful lot I can do about that. The type of evidence I’m interested in is more concrete than “she said vs she said” but it’s also the hardest to share due to legal reasons. I do not want to risk jeopardising an FBI investigation but at the same time I want to supply something more original and concrete than word-spun content.
- At the bottom of this article is a list of notes, sources and allegations
- Message to potential victims
Jason Lanier Misconduct Allegations
Please judge this article based purely on my reasoning; similarly, don’t leave comments arguing Jason Lanier isn’t famous, he’s not a good photographer or something to that effect. 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 (I picked that name out of a hat).
I used to watch YouTube photography entertainers with the utmost respect but now it seems full to the brim of questionable behaviour. Ken Wheeler was an exception as I never respected him to begin with and 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 community he’d touch.
The harder you try to refute a claim of his, ten more videos and erroneous claims pop up in its place e.g. he’s a self-proclaimed chess champion, marksman, expert cave-diver, sky-diver, cyclist, philosopher, lens expert, camera technician, and translator who’s never tried to sell anything:
His videos are usually always fictitious, illogical and incoherent; for this reason, it saddened me to hear Jason Lanier’s ex-employee had contacted him — your enemy’s enemy isn’t always your friend. 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 i.e. similar behaviour can be found regardless of which way the hat is pointed.
Jason Lanier 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) and he’s not my favourite photographer (Joey Lawrence and Lara jade’s work appeals to me more) either, but I respected what I felt deserved to be respected. I stopped watching Jason Lanier’s YouTube channel 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.”
- 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“.
Whether this is criminal behaviour and whether it counts as false advertising (he represented Sony at the time the video was published) didn’t really bother me at the time… I just found it awfully distasteful.
Sony Side Up
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.
As time passed and I gathered more evidence, it became clear the women and their working environment with Jason Lanier was considerably different to what was portrayed in ANY of Jason Lanier’s videos.
Consequently, my investigation changed direction somewhat. Most of the women at the WeStandTogether channel have argued they’re not trying really hard to change minds. I don’t know if I believe that, but their intent isn’t important so long as they’re being truthful about Jason Lanier and their interactions with him. I’ve seen the comments left on YouTube and there are sickening people supporting both sides. I want you to defend the rightful victims but don’t do that by aggressively attacking anyone. Jason suggested a “she said vs she said” in his video, but it’s too theatrical and the video bogs you down with too many details. If you boil down some of the video; one claim is particularly poignant — Jason Lanier contends Ken Wheeler is a puppet master and has groomed people to destroy Jason Lanier’s business.
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. The “firewall” kept the fire going. As a side note, if you wonder why there’s a green circle around a comment, that’s because Joyce spoke about 20 hour shifts in a video she made. Epic firewall.
Recently I emailed Emily again and she replied; I gave her my word I would not publish the email but to give you a clue, a certain “F” word was used…
Jason Lanier is in syzygy with Ken Wheeler, but his ex-employees don’t orbit him
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/ex-employees is as per Jason Lanier’s claims. I believe Ken Wheeler 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 ex-employee, it doesn’t refute the claims made by said women — it doesn’t prove Ken Wheeler manipulated them. You can speak to someone without grooming or manipulating them in some way.
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 or jail someone with a gun to their head. 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 his audience — a sizeable audience.
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: The burden of proof lies on Jason Lanier i.e. innocent until proven guilty.
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”? [*n1].
- It’s unreasonable to claim a model is manipulated, imply said 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.
- 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.
Jason Lanier made a second video stating Sierra is a recruiter. Which is it? She’s recruiting people or Ken Wheeler is grooming people? Unless of course he’s saying Ken Wheeler has a gun to Sierra’s head or he’s manipulated her somehow into recruiting people. In which case we go back to my original claim — Jason Lanier’s grievance should be with Ken Wheeler and only Ken Wheeler. On the other hand, he’s contradicted himself; therefore, he would have slandered Ken Wheeler.
Jason Lanier’s audience consists primarily of Sony users, right? Ken Wheeler is a known Sony hater; doesn’t he therefore make the perfect scapegoat, especially given his lack of credibility?
I am not saying Ken Wheeler is a good man or an innocent man, but I do not think he’s guilty of this particular crime. It’s simply too hard to believe, and for all of you who say innocent until proven guilty… Does that logic only apply one way? Is Ken Wheeler innocent of “manipulating” and “grooming” Jason Lanier’s ex-employees until proven otherwise?
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.
I watched the first video again but this time it was to judge body language alone. I noticed his pupil direction in one video seemed substantially different to the second video. I don’t want to slander him and there’s so many retakes/clips in the editing that it’s hard to establish much truth here. The annoying drum beat doesn’t help at all and I can’t really judge breathing patterns or anything too much. His most recent videos are better than the Fifty Shades of Taken video (“Ken Wheeler- Photography’s National Enquirer- Trolling Gone Too Far. Lies, Fraud, Theft & Deception”) but they’re still awful in this regard. Interestingly, after commenting on his body language, it seems to be different in his latest video (this is currently hidden).
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 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 after the shoot. I shouldn’t be fooled into thinking I know the photographer based on YouTube branding.
- 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.
My Photographer friends also gave me useful information:
- 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: Arguably 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 to an ivy league university, had a high paying job prior to being a photographer and not that many years ago went on a Safari before being popular on YouTube — none of that screams poor. At the time of the shoots taking place, I believe 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. By his own admission, the accommodation didn’t work properly.
I went on modelmayhem and I could not find a model as young as Jade. 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 ex-employees about the accusations, they told me little stories and snip-bits of information. Quite often, when cross referenced, the story would check out. Occasionally, it didn’t.
I didn’t want to press any of the women too much (it’s not pleasant reliving past experiences) so I ended up going through a bunch of calendar dates and cross referencing them myself [*n2]:
- The NDA business is a mess… 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 allows you the privilege to disclose information.
- Given the the contract/job role changed (potentially requiring a separate/different NDA), other women are allegedly at risk and previous crimes have been committed, and the fact Jason’s shown himself to bully his staff, I believe it would be a mistake for Jaques the Ripper (he’s not an actual ripper; the name sounds catchy) to chase these models on an NDA claim [*n4] but it is for his team and the courts to decide.
- Jason Lanier’s complaint about being a storage system is somewhat valid but also completely pointless to mention. I believe a professional should agree to keep data for a minimum length of time. There’s no point arguing much here though because it’s a red herring and he’s clearly comfortable keeping a bunch of video footage requiring far more data…
- In many parts of Jason Lanier’s video, the models looked like girls goofing around. It doesn’t prove anything.
- One weird behavioural pattern that stuck out to me was Jason Lanier’s messages. After two—it was usually always two—messages, if he didn’t get a reply, he would send another message in a clingy-fashion. It was argued he had a second phone; Jason Lanier stated Ken Wheeler has his home and business phone numbers, so I’m inclined to believe there are two phones.
Videos of a shoot where the models are told to be on their best behaviour doesn’t prove anything. If you were running that kind of business, you would tell your staff to behave a certain way. Even the staff in Walmart are told to smile at the customers! It helps sell your brand.
I’m not a Jason Lanier hater. I am trying to side with the victim(s), regardless of who they are. I don’t trust many of the people trying to help — a lot seem to like the drama of it. In my experience, it’s rare that people tell the absolute truth and quite often, those who hate being accused of lying the most are liars.
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) people. I’m not saying they are 100% genuine but they certainly come across a lot different than what he has portrayed; I repeat, I don’t trust anyone 100% so please quit the hate mail, haha.
Even if the sexual allegations are false, he runs his company SO POORLY that he does not provide a good example to YouTube viewers and if he is innocent of sexual battery, I suspect this wouldn’t have happened if he were more professional.
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:
- Website domain creation Date: 25-10-2013
- Website has over 170 warnings and errors
- Webmaster has not purchased nor set up an SSL certificate
He should probably fix that mess [*n3].
19th July 2019 Update ~ Hatter’s gonna hat
On the 19th of July 2019, Jason Lanier published a second/third video regarding this subject, entitled “Character Assassination Disguised as Sexual Misconduct- False Allegations for Revenge“. Hats off to him for supplying more evidence countering his own claim, I guess. Before you ask; yes, he added a drum beat, and no it hasn’t helped his case this time around anymore than the first or second.
Within the first few minutes of the video, Jason Lanier made quite a mess. His original contention was that Ken Wheeler is a “puppet master” who groomed disgruntled ex-employees and we were to believe Ken Wheeler controls people. His latest allegation is that Sierra is a recruiter.
I have attached the letter I sent to Rotolight. Attacked you say? It goes both ways:
I don’t doubt Jason Lanier was attacked by someone, somewhere; anyone who is popular gets attacked:
It’s a bit of a hit for hat claim really.
Products from Amazon.com
Taipei Geek & Comments
A kid named “Taipei” runs a blogspot website. He lost his temper with me when I pointed out his intentional Rotolight misquote, “the end of the cooperation between them and Jason Lanier” vs “suspending our activity”. He has since resorted to slandering me and allowing slanderous comments by others about me. Interestingly, the photo in his “about me” page is labelled “Sam”; look familiar? Instagram.
Definition of suspending: "temporarily prevent from continuing or being in force or effect." Definition of end: "a final part of something, especially a period of time, an activity, or a story."
Self explanatory evidence below…
To the other troll who goes by the name of “Ad Vice Forya” and has also posted there… You have 14 days (the current date is 24/07/2019) to fix this: Remove all posts about the alleged victims and myself from third party websites. If you cannot remove the content, make a post publicly RETRACTING your statements and request the web-admin deletes said content. Don’t do it again. He apologised. Apology has since been removed…
I have now contacted Oxford University, 10/08/2019.
Products from Amazon.com
Price: $2,598.00Was: $3,248.00
Complaint of my own
I spoke with Jason Lanier via email to remove libellous content about me at his website, he has refused to give me the contact details of his current lawyer and has also not been cooperative in helping. The comment in question was written by a user named Keith G. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s interesting how Jason Lanier refuses to let me speak with his lawyer directly.
List of allegations:
- Hostile work environment
- Inciting hatred
- Putting models/employees at risk i.e. violating health and safety
- Failure to provide adequate accommodation for staff
- Inciting hatred in person
- Inciting hatred online
- Disclosing private information about an ex-employee
- Overworking staff
- False/misleading advertising
- Exploiting power
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Racial/religious hatred
- Sexual assault / sexual battery 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
- Jason's Meetup Earnings
- Jason's Video Timeline
- JLi NDA Related Document
- JLi Ken Wheeler Document
- JLi Email Doc (possibly sent from Ken Wheeler)
- JLi 19/07/2019 Video Timeline
- JLi ND Meaningless Distractions
- JLi NV Letter to Rotolight
- We stand together YouTube channel
- Jason Lanier, Fifty Shades of Taken
- Jason Lanier, The truth about
- Experiences with Jason Lanier - Workshop Attendee
- Health & Safety
- Hostile work environment
- False advertising UK law (1)
- False advertising UK law (2)
- False advertising US Law
- Working hours UK law
- Labor and Employment Californian Law
- Mann Act
- Bane Act (possibly unrelated)
- Ralph act (possibly unrelated)
- [*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.
Using a non-existent email address and a VPN at my site can pose problems when commenting; I reserve the right to delete anything. At the time of writing, my spam filter has caught 13,730 comments and I do not manually go through them all. As a general rule of thumb, I am more lenient towards comments about me rather than about others but use common sense and don't harass me.
Message to potential victims
I currently advise any potential victims to contact me directly and do not contact Ken Wheeler or the other alleged victims, for the time being. I will discuss it with you in private in more detail.
I believe separating yourself means Jason Lanier cannot claim you’ve been recruited by them; if he claims you’re in contact with Ken Wheeler, I can do a better job at proving you’re not. The smarter strategy right now, especially as they have a data leak, is to do things a bit differently. I don’t like publicly bragging but I’m more than experienced in these matters. Don’t be mislead by the poor blog/hiking pics on instagram, haha. If you have doubts, please give me five minutes to prove myself in private and if you’re not convinced within that period, you can walk.