Intersections of Sacred Landscapes: Burma and Death Valley

Opening reception for an exhibit featuring the photography of Jesse Kaplan.

When: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Divine Inspiration Gallery of Fine Art, 1528 State Street, Santa Barbara

Cost: Not available

Age limit: Not available

Categories: Art (opening)


December 6, 2012- January 31, 2013

Jesse Kaplan is a young photographer who has traveled to more than 40 countries and experienced many primitive and isolated cultures, including the secretive military dictatorship of Myanmar, or Burma, a nation that is slowly struggling towards democracy.

As the third generation in his family in the film business, Jesse learned well from cinematographers the use of light and composition. He holds advanced photography certificates from UCLA and currently works as a film sound technician and videographer specializing in travel and architecture. While a student at UCLA, he was able to get into Burma on a student visa with all his equipment, as photojournalists were strictly not allowed into the closed society.

Jesse captures unique moments in time in his photography, portraying hidden rituals and practices of the people with remarkable sensitivity. Similarly capturing moments not often seen, the awe-inspiring desert landscape of California's Death Valley offers stunning light and shadow contrasts created by ever-changing wind-swept sand dunes.

Divine Inspiration Gallery is proud to present Jesse Kaplan in his first gallery exhibition.

Phone: 805-962-6444

Event posted Nov. 20, 2012
Last updated Nov. 20, 2012


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I want to comment on the Santa Barbara Gallery photography opening of Jesse Kaplan and point out the truth. Jesse was my student at UCLA and asked to come to Burma with me on my upcoming workshop in January of 2012. He did not obtain a student visa to get into Burma, as he wrote in the description above as they do not allow student visas. They only allow tourist and business visas. No one can go as a photojournalist and Jesse is not one, but is trying to promote himself as one. He was a workshop participant but wants no one to know this.

In Burma, I set up many of the shots for my group, including many with monks like the image of the monks with parasols above. For some reason, Jesse has told the gallery that he was not on a workshop at all and that he set up all of the images of monks in the show. He told the gallery owner this to her face and she was stunned when I told her the truth.

I asked Jesse if he wanted to show the images, to please place a notice that he was on a workshop and not take credit for many of these images that were totally set up by me as he had nothing whatsoever to do with the images. Instead, he has cut off all communication with me as he wants everyone to think that they are all his photographs. I am a travel photographer and have been going to Burma since 2001 and I am working on a new book of Burma. I am appalled that someone I have taken to Burma decided to approach this gallery in Santa Barbara and is lying about many of the shots. They are not his creation and I asked him to not show them in public like this but he doesn't care whatsoever and does not want anyone to know that he was on a workshop.

I have decided not to do any more Burma workshops because of what Jesse Kaplan has done and the gallery should take down his images as he has totally deceived them and the public. He knows the right thing to do and should be ashamed for what he is doing. What's funny is that the show also shows images from Death Valley. Jesse was also on two workshops with me to Death Valley and that's how he is showing these images too. And of course once again fails to mention to anyone about his workshops. I have been a professional photographer for over 25 years and have never seen anyone do anything as shameful as Jesse Kaplan has done.

scottys (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 1:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If the images came from his camera-eye; then they are his images and he has every right as an artist to do with them what he wishes.
Congratulations Kaplan.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 2:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I attended the same photography workshop as Jesse Kaplan a year earlier, in 2010.

The master photographer leading the workshop arranged and set up many of the beautiful images of the Monks of Myanmar. We visited the ancient religious city of Bagan, where the landscape is filled with thousands of temples and is one of the most special places on Earth. We photographed monks and local children in and around local villages and many of the amazing temples and monasteries. The photos in Jesse Kaplan’s exhibition are a direct result of the efforts of the Workshop Leader. He deserves credit.

The Workshop Leader is a travel and stock photographer who journeys to distant lands looking for unique photo opportunities. His photos are represented in many stock agencies including Corbis and Getty Images. A contributing writer for Shutterbug Magazine, he teaches digital photography and Photoshop at UCLA Extension, the Julia Dean Photo Workshops in Venice Beach & the Art Wolfe Digital Photography Center in Seattle. He is also co-author of The Digital Photographer’s New Guide to Photoshop Plug-Ins. From Microsoft, Newsweek and the New York Times, to greeting cards, calendars, billboards and book covers, his images are used internationally. His photographs are in collections all over the world, including on permanent display in the United Nations and the new UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

4Hunter (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 6:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The workshop leader didn't even use their name in these comments. It is uncommon for a workshop leader to be so proprietary.
Exactly how would they be creditted? Production Design?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 6:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How credit is expressed can be determined by the Art Gallery. My intention was solely to make clear how the photographic images were created. There is more to taking a picture than pressing a button.

4Hunter (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 6:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You don't have to tell me there's more to taking a photograph than pushing a button. But there's also more to taking a photograph than arranging the shoot.
Did the anonymous here by choice workshop leader compose the shots for Kaplan? Did he choose which ones were to be in the show?
Personally I'm probably overgenerous with credits but I do think it's somewhat arrogant for the workshop leader to seek credit for the actual images and not just their circumstance; and then to basically call for the show to be censored...
I'd think the success of a student would be enough.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 6:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey Ken and anyone else that might be Jesse's friend. I had the workshop attendees put their tripods exactly where mine was after I set up many of the shots. I told them exactly the f/stops...shutter speeds...white balance... I let them shoot just what I shoot for magazines....being nice but not what I should have done ...for two workshops in Burma. Many of his shots he had nothing to do with but put his tripod just where mine had been. Is that creating your own shot? I don't think so . I was teaching them all how I design my images for magazines and was nice enough to let them shoot many of them themselves. Exact replicas of my shots.

I told everyone please don't try and make these images look like they were your creation. I taught them how to set up shots so they could do this in the future with their own design. Jesse chooses to make believe he is some big photojournalist even lying about how he got into Burma. Very uncool. He got in because of me and our workshop. Not his made up "student visa".

No sour grapes. But very unhappy that Jesse decides to have an opening on both workshops he attended with me and never mentions to a sole that he was on a workshop. He wants everyone to think he was there on his own. Very uncool. But if this makes him feel like a big photographer......will love to see if he can ever have another show. Look at his website and see what other photos are worth a gallery exhibit? hmmm?
Jesse Kaplan could have just told people he was on a workshop and not in Burma by himself. Guess he needs a lot of praise however he can get it. The bummer is that he and I were good friends and still he decided to do this me. i was his instructor and friend...and he threw it all away for a lame show. Wish him luck in the future....

scottys (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 7:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To my knowledge I've never met Mr. Kaplan. I speak up on principle.
To tell an artist you're supposed to be mentoring not to make an image their own creation is abominable.

And if you're as proficient as you feel you are, you should also know that even exact tripod placement doesn't equal the same shot. Did you also frame his shots?

He'd be a fool not to take advantage of the opportunity to get something worthwhile instead doing hackwork which given your account; apparently you encourage.
And if it is such a big deal to you to get credit, why do you use a pseudonym here? Just to smear? Shameful.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 29, 2012 at 7:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey Ken, your words are hollow and meaningless.

What is Karma?

Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, i.e., our actions have results. Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at (1) the intention behind the action, (2) effects of the action on oneself, and (3) the effects on others.

Kaplan's responsible for his own avarice: past and present. His photograpy exhibition misrepresented the karmic effect and the point of Intersections of Sacred Landscapes: Burma and Death Valley

The Buddhist path requires courage, patience, flexibility and intelligence.

4Hunter (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 2:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There's a middle path here. Kaplan is lame if he dishonors his teacher and refuses to acknowledge the mentoring. The lie, if Scottys is correct, about how he got into Burma is also bad.
Yet KV has the point that the pictures are truly Kaplans, whatever the circumstances.
Buddha taught us to express gratitude to our teachers and mentors, so Kaplan's avarice and his lack of honest gratitude are completely a-dharmic. I won't go to this show despite my love for Death Valley.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 5:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Thank you for your wisdom.

4Hunter (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 7:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This discussion is not about theology but artistic rights. You say Kaplan lied to the workshop yet they accepted him as a student thus making him a student. If you're really upset that he lied to the Burmese government then , if Karma really is the topic, you should be MORE upset over the Burmese government's well documented human rights abuses and oppression.
If you look at the gallery's website, they don't claim some wild Indiana Jones expedition:

And I'm impressed with the work I've seen overall. Some of which makes the "tripod placement" claims a bit dubious, did the "ScottS" also set the exposure and focus?
And again, why doesn't the workshop leader use their full real name here other than pseudonym? Would a "Special Thanks to ScottS" be sufficient.

Face it the kid is talented with a strong (and interesting) background, probably didn't need you to touch his camera, took a great opportunity when it presented itself, and now has a show. No one is preventing ScottS from doing the same except himself.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 10:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken, sure are one angry person. I am done with this. I do not need to explain myself anymore. Obviously you could care less what I have to say and Jesse is a god to you. Burma didn't accept Jesse as a student..He was a tourist like anyone else. Tons of people write student on the visa app. I helped Jesse fill out his app. The truth is that what I am upset about is that Jesse is going out of his way to make sure no one at all knows he was on a workshop. He lied to the gallery....totally misrepresented himself and the gallery owner told me that he lied right to her face.
All I wanted was for him to let others know that many of these shots were not his design and he couldn't figure out how to do most of them in any way, shape or form. I let him and others do mistake...which will never happen again.....but told them not to claim them as their own artistic vision. not have a gallery show and tell everyone that these were all created by him or herself. If you cannot understand this that you are out to lunch. I have done a million workshops...and watch how people cannot wait for the instructor to move out of the way so that they can out their tripod exactly where the instructors was....just so that they can get the exact same shot. So please don't preach to me about the focus...and and exposure...I yell out every setting...and sometimes even let people put their memory card in my camera, as some of them did not have my same lenses. Been doing this long enough to watch enough people dive in to get the instructors vision. You are obviously not a published photographer.....but someone who likes to argue. I don;t really care anymore.

I really don't give a damn what you think Ken. Stick up for this guy who should be ashamed of himself. I really do not care. There are people like you all over the world that act like you and Jesse. Somehow ..I am now the bad guy? Don' think so. Jesse threw me under the bus. Anyone else who would want to have a show from work that they got from a great workshop would have called the instructor and told them how happy they were and said a lot of thank you's. Jesse chose to not call me at he knew I would ask him if he was going to tell people that he was on a workshop. He never told me about the show on purpose..and not one thank you.

Felt so nice Ken. Jesse is a rip off artist in my book. Think what you want. I am done with this. No mas. and jesse..if you are reading..... you are so welcome for the best images of your life.

scottys (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 11:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I would think the angry one is the one who started the smear campaign. And if you knew anything you'd know I am indeed a published photographer and more!
You're jealous because he has "it" and you don't. I took the time to visit Kaplan's site which features a lot of nonBurmese and Death Valley imagery and there's a lot of great stuff.
It is shameful what you have done if you indeed who you claim to be. And if you are, no wonder you and the Burmese government get along so well, you both believe in censorship.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 12:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

(This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of use policy.)

4Hunter (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.

If a tree falls in a forest, but nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If someone else claims they staged the subject and told you where to place your tripod and how to set your aperture, shutter, and white balance, is the photo credit all yours?

Tough conundrum for the gallery owner to sort out.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 2:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why is it a tough conundrum???

Simply put, plagiarism is the use of another's original words or ideas as though they were your own. Any time you borrow from an original source and do not give proper credit, you have committed plagiarism and violated U.S. copyright laws.

Copyright laws exist to protect our intellectual property. They make it illegal to reproduce someone else's expression of ideas or information without permission. This can include music, images, written words, video, and a variety of other media.

At one time, a work was only protected by copyright if it included a copyright trademark (the © symbol). According to laws established in 1989, however, works are now copyright protected with or without the inclusion of this symbol.

Most of the beautiful images of the monks of Myanmar were arranged by special permission. scottys set up many of the shots and had the workshop participants shoot exactly what he was shooting…almost to a T….and that he asked them not to claim them as their own design. The photos in Jesse Kaplan’s exhibition are a direct result of the efforts of scottys workshop leadership. It’s true Jesse, captured the images but there is also the obligation to give credit where credit is due.

4Hunter (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 3:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If the workshop is so proprietary then it shouldn't be a workshop but a photographer with assistants (preferably paid instead of paying.)
You can do a workshop anywhere, why would someone go through the trouble if they can't use their work? Did he sign a contract?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 4 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@4Hunter ... a conundrum in that the gallery owners will have to sort out where the truth lies.

In this online environment, we readers have no way of determining whether scottys' and your allegations are true or not. This is not to say the allegations aren't fully or partially true - we just have no way of knowing.

Presumably the gallery owners (Sonia Adams and Sherry Spear) will make an attempt - when they do, I hope someone posts the conclusion here.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 4:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

enjoy the rest of your day.

4Hunter (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 4:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Email and phone number of the gallery owners are here for those wishing to lodge a complaint about Kaplan's show:

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 4:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's easy to figure out who the workshop leader was via Google (I did); maybe the original commentator could first be authenticated themselves before complaints are lodged based on basically anonymous internet rantings.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 4:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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