Photography – Why Ken’s Wrong

Photography, at least second-hand photo gear, is one topic where Ken Wheeler receives a modicum of qualified respect from some of his YouTube peers. Find out why he’s still wrong about the art, craft and business of photography.

Being a professional photographer is a demanding job. Almost everyone takes photographs, but very few people manage to earn a living at it. In the US, despite the skills and education needed, the job only pays about $42,000 per year on average.

Getting established in pro photography requires the right education, internships and thousands of hours of practice. It’s a very competitive field, so self-promotion is vital.

Getting noticed demands an impressive photography portfolio and an eye-catching website. Professional photographers are often stretched between delivering quality images to clients and finding time to network and build their reputation with future customers.

You’d Think He’d Be a Working, Full-Time Photographer

Ken Wheeler gained YouTube notoriety by calling himself the Angry Photographer. So you’d think he’d be an expert, working, full-time photographer.

As with many aspects of Kentucky Ken’s life, the truth about the situation is surprisingly odd. Virtually no-one has ever seen a professional-quality, studio photograph taken by the YouTuber behind Theoria Apophasis.

Worse, the Angry Photographer has been caught representing the work of other photographers, such as Robert Haldane, Motousa.com and Elena Polakova as his own on his YouTube channel. There can be no greater sin than this in the professional photography world.

Represented Work of Other Photographers as His Own

A few professional photographers have invited Ken Wheeler to join them on photo shoots. These have included Jason Lanier and Darren Miles.

In both cases, the Angry Photographer’s results were underwhelming. The high-end, professional gear he brought along was very impressive, but compared to his hosts, his results were not.

Ken Wheeler has an Instagram site. On it, we can see a few selfies and snapshots featuring him, his homes and his pickup truck.

Instragram Site Has Snapshots of His House and Truck

Unlike all other professional photographers, we don’t see any examples of product photography, weddings, formal portraits, fashion models, still lifes, sports, wildlife, or landscapes. Nobody has been able to locate a website or quality portfolio promoting Ken Wheeler as a professional photographer anywhere on the Internet.

The Angry Photographer has retorted that his portfolio is for paying customers only. That would be an odd approach. Most photographers use their websites to market themselves widely to as many potential clients as possible.

They may avoid publishing some final photos because of client privacy, but their portfolios aren’t a deep, dark secret. Many wonder if the Theoria Apophasis creator has a photographic portfolio at all.

Many Wonder if Ken Wheeler Has a Portfolio At All

To give Ken Wheeler his due, he does display some knowledge about the buy-and-sell market for used cameras and especially lenses. He also demonstrates his repair and maintenance skills on his YouTube channel.

The Angry Photographer claims to have studied photography at the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies in Daytona and to have worked in a camera shop. His role appears to have involved both sales and repair tasks, so he has some product knowledge, especially about film-based Nikon cameras and lenses.

However, he’s applied that knowledge in an odd way. The YouTuber behind Theoria Apophasis is a gadget collector rather than a photographer.

Gadget Collector Rather Than Photographer

He claims to own “hundreds of Nikon lenses.” A typical working photographer needs about half a dozen of them.

These would include a normal lens, a wide angle lens and a portrait lens. Depending on their specialty, they might also use a macro lens, a telephoto lens, and a tilt-shift lens.

As in any trade, tools may accumulate over the years. An experienced photographer might keep another dozen or so less active lenses on a shelf somewhere.

No Photographer Needs to Own “Hundreds of Lenses”

Even so, there’s no practical justification for any photographer to own “hundreds of lenses.” The self-styled Angry Photographer compulsively hoards every lens that hits the market without ever taking a picture.

In the early part of his YouTube career, Ken Wheeler gained impressive numbers of viewers and broadly positive feedback. This was for his videos reviewing new and second-hand Nikon products, especially the lenses he collects, repairs and sometimes has to sell.

The Angry Photographer often shared tips that could save hobbyists some money if they were willing to settle for used and old-fashioned gear with limited electronic functionality. Even so, most viewers thought his advice about the second-hand gear market was “penny-wise and pound foolish.”

Ken’s Top “Must Buy” Lens Went Off Market 40 Years Ago

For example, Kentucky Ken’s recommendation for “the best damn Nikkor lens you must buy” is the 135 mm f/2.8 telephoto AI. This lens went off the market forty years ago.

Designed for film cameras of the 1970s, it lacks zoom, anti- vibration and autofocus features. It does have good-quality optics, and it sells in the $150 range on the second-hand market.

So, this lens is affordable and collectible, but it lacks the features today’s serious photographer expects, landing it squarely in the penny-wise and pound foolish category. Because of its optics and longer focal length, it could have some uses as a portrait lens in a well-structured studio setting, but it’s far from being the one lens every photographer needs to have.

Hostile, Aggressive Personality Was Off-Putting

The Theoria Apophasis host’s aggressive personality was off-putting for many viewers, although some found it entertaining, in a freak-show kind of way. Others found him excessively attached to Nikon and biased or even hostile toward other brands, particularly Canon.

Nevertheless, a few professional photographers concede that Ken Wheeler’s videos have sometimes mentioned lesser-known but helpful features of their equipment. They admit they wouldn’t have picked up these obscure hints from anyone else.

More recently, Ken Wheeler is far less committed to Nikon. It seems he had a dispute with the brand over borrowing product samples to review on his channel. He’s been advocating mirrorless photography products made by Fujifilm since then.

Costly Tools Few Photographers Can Afford

The Angry Photographer’s recent recommendations have been directed toward Fujifilm’s premium-priced, medium format cameras and related lenses. These are costly, high-end, professional-level tools that few photographers, even if they do it for a living, can afford.

To no one’s surprise, the Angry Photographer is now complaining about Fujifilm, which has also stopped lending him gear. Fujifilm told Theoria Apophasis he no longer produces enough photography content to justify supporting him, and they don’t want viewers to associate their brand with him even if his reviews are good.

Since he can no longer borrow Fujifilm cameras for free, and he can’t afford to buy all of them, he’s reduced to renting them for short terms for his reviews. He’s tried reviewing cameras sight unseen, but that only drew ridicule from his peers and his viewers.

Owns Every Model of $10,000 Fujifilm GFX Cameras

Oddly, despite his financial complaints, the Angry Photographer has shelled out his own money on several models of Fujifilm’s most elite, professional, GFX cameras. Each of them costs upwards of $10,000, when you add in the specialized new lenses they require.

It’s hard to see any business case for these additions to his camera collection. By all accounts, the Angry Photographer doesn’t earn any significant income from professional photography.

So, here’s why Ken Wheeler is wrong about photography. He’s a fake expert. He’s not a professional photographer despite trying to give his viewers that impression.

Suffers From “Gear Acquisition Syndrome”

He doesn’t take pictures. He merely collects gear, suggesting that he suffers from what photography experts call “gear acquisition syndrome.”

Although viewers found a few of his earliest equipment recommendations helpful, they find his current videos more grudge-based than evidence-based. Also, most of the photo gear that the Angry Photographer now reviews is out of the reach of virtually all his viewers.

Ken Wheeler doesn’t rank among the most-viewed photography YouTubers. The top-rated channels are all run by working, professional photographers.

One-Trick Pony Who Has Lost His Credibility

These A-list commentators discuss topics like composition, light, shadow, finding subjects, storytelling, and many other creative aspects of their craft along with regular, unbiased gear reviews from all major brands. The Angry Photographer is a one-trick pony who has lost his credibility even on the second-hand product critiques that once earned him a modicum of respect.

It’s also impossible for many professional photographers to overlook Ken Wheeler’s misrepresentation of the intellectual property of others as his own – his greatest sin of all.

Ken’s Evidence

Ken Wheeler, Photography’s National Enquirer
Photography Review
The Downfall of the Angry Photographer
The Shoot Between Jason Lanier and Ken Wheeler
The Ken Wheeler Interview and Photo Walk
Official Angry Photographer

Published by David Morton Rintoul

I'm a freelance writer and commercial blogger delivering content services to selective business to business marketing clients. I have extensive experience in content creation, technical writing and training, working as a consultant and later in management roles with many of Canada's most successful organizations. Specialties: Content Marketing, Social Media, Technical Writing, Training and Development

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