Lesson Learned

Trust, but get it in writing

I recently came across a book titled The Basic Beginner's Guide to Photography, Light and Exposure co-written by Scott Bourne and Richard Harrington. It's available on iTunes as an iBook.

When looking at the preview in iTunes I recognized something familiar so I bought the book. It's only $0.99.

I thought that the treatment of basic exposure, camera controls, and metering presented in the book was very good. I would think that since I actually wrote most of it.

I met Scott Bourne back in 2001 and soon after began working with him on his fledgling Photofocus Magazine. I wrote many articles for that magazine.
Back in 2004-2005 I also wrote a series of short articles for what I called my "Back to Basics" series, which was meant to go on the Photofocus site (frankly, I don't recall if we ever published it there).
But in 2005 we co-authored 88 Secrets to Wildlife Photography, which included those articles.

I thought that this bit of writing was some of my best as well as being a pretty darn good explanation of the mechanics of exposure. So much so that it's been on my website for many years now. You can read the entire series here.

When comparing my Back to Basics series (as well as the Exposure and Light section of 88 Secrets to Wildlife Photography) to The Basic Beginner's Guide to Photography, Light and Exposure, I see that much of Chapter 3 of that book is taken word for word from what I wrote.

Since Scott and I co-authored 88 Secrets to Wildlife Photography and we didn't have a contract outlining rights of subsequent usage, he has every legal right to use that text. And even though he has this right, it's still rather annoying to me that my original work is now being passed off as someone else's.

Placing trust in someone is wonderful, though sometimes foolish. But a contract is even better. Lesson learned on my part: If ever I co-author another book there will be a contract outlining rights of subsequent usage.

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10 responses to “Lesson Learned


  1. Carol F (former student) says:

    Taking credit and profiting from someone else’s work is shameful.

    • Well, he has every right. Just as I have the right to use any text in that book that I didn’t originally write. But I won’t do that.

    • Wow…disappointing and disgusting to know that this human being is part of the photography community.

      Character, integrity and service to others without a focus on what is the almighty “me/I” going to get out of this are the marks of a superb human being. You my friend are a Superb human being and a giving, generous with your time, talent and insight, and naturally gifted photographer. Thank you for sharing your admirable and inspiring traits with us, the photography community


  2. Brenda Berry says:

    He sucks. Sorry Rod. You learned lots of lessons back then. Sorry you are still learning! The bright side, learning keeps us young! Happy 2016. BB

  3. Ethics count for most people. Those for whom ethics are optional are best avoided. Unfortunately, people who are honest and trusting are always easy pickings for those who are not. Best to remember the old adage ” Time wounds all heels”….. Or something like that.

  4. This was done without your knowledge. The least he can do is acknowledge your authorship. I would think the loss of your trust is a very high price for him to pay.


  5. George Mitchell says:

    Scott Bourne, still teaching us things long after we put him in the rear-view mirror.

  6. There’s a sucker in every crowd and he is the sucker. Kind of like a Donald Trump character if you ask me. Pathetic.

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