Over the past few days, the words and actions of one self-proclaimed ‘famous’ photographer, Jake Olson, are quickly helping him become infamous.
Indeed, his slurs against paying customers, purchasers of his online tutorials and the photography industry at large would make a great guide on ‘How to alienate clients and ruin your photography business’.
Olson’s photographs consist primarily of shots of children and women, set against a backdrop of a long and winding road in Nebraska, or standing in shallow water, invariably with the setting sun in the background.
Heavy photo editing floods the images in red, and the subjects can be seen posing in one of Olson’s few preferred poses—cupping the water at their feet, with their arms at their sides and hands splayed out in a bizarre penguin-finding-its-balance sort of position, or holding an object such as a flower or a leaf to their chest.
That’s not to say that the shots don’t look nice. Browse through his featured images, though, and it is impossible to miss the glaring lack of variety.
The vitriol towards the photographer has little to do with the uniformity of his shots, however.
Rather, individuals including his past portraits clients, those who have bought his Photoshop tutorials and people who follow his Facebook page have shared shocking stories of their experiences with the photographer.
1. “Give suicide some thought.”**
Or, ‘How not to speak to your social followers’.
The exchange starts off badly, with the photographer boasting of his wealth compared to his followers, and it only gets worse.
Behold once more, Olson’s final phrase: “Oh and seriously give suicide some thought.”
Appreciate that those reading his Facebook posts are likely to be fans of his work, potential tutorial customers or parents looking for a photographer to do childhood or graduation shots of their teenagers.
One customer, Jenn, shared an email conversation she had with Olson in which the photographer shows disdain for her opinion, money and business.
2. “You viewed this as a service and not an opportunity. BIG MISTAKE…”
Or, ‘How not to speak to your past clients’.
3. “You on the other hand…”
Or, ‘How not to respond to constructive criticism’.
When one fellow photographer politely suggested he look for a fresh location for his photo shoots, to make his collection more varied, Olson proceeded to boast of his prior photographic accomplishment, while for good measure suggesting there may be only 16 people in the world that care if his detractor is alive.
4. “I HAVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU BY THE NUTS.”
Or, ‘How not to speak to your current clients’.
A follower of Olson’s Facebook page shared the screenshot below, in which he tells his customers that he resents their business as it puts him out, charming.
It should be noted that, after initially celebrating the new ‘likes’ he was getting due to the controversy, Olson’s professional Facebook page has now been purged of offensive remarks, presumably after he realised his comments were going to affect his bottom line.
5. Jake Olson (photographer)
Or, ‘Modesty 101’.
What makes a person important and successful? According to Olson: “Well your own Wikipedia page for starters.”
In fact he was so proud of his Wikipedia entry, it even featured as his Facebook cover image.
It is suspected that Olson wrote the page himself and, after being flagged by several users for “blatant self promotion” by the “non-notable photographer”, the page has now been removed.
There are many more horror stories from those who have had the displeasure of dealing with Olson, Resource Magazine shared a few more great reasons to avoid him earlier this week. Also gripeo.com has six pages dedicated to complaints about the photographer (though some have been added over the past few days by people who are disgusted with Olson’s attitude but may not have done business with him).
The Internet is a powerful thing, and hopefully the show of strength over the past few days has helped Olson to see the error of his ways.
For photographers and prospective clients, this only highlights the need to do research before handing over your money for photo shoots and tutorials.
If you’re looking for a photographer to take your photo, checking reviews will hopefully give you an idea of their professionalism and timeliness.
Similarly, if you’re looking to purchase a tutorial, do a little research to avoid being baited by someone who will treat you with disdain and provide you with an inferior product.
And it’s a hell of a lesson in how not to conduct business, or treat people.