Colourful past haunts photography icon

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I found a most interesting post on one of the photography blogs I frequent, photofocus.com.


Its author, Scott Bourne, is widely known and highly regarded in the professional photography business. He?s been involved with several of the highest-rated photography podcasts, including being a founder of the This Week in Photo podcast. On Photofocus, Bourne stated, ?Over the last several months, stories have been appearing about me on the Internet - some factual and some not - that have some readers asking questions.

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?About 30 years ago, I made some serious mistakes. I learned from them, made amends, and moved forward. I believe we don?t have to be defined by our past. We all have the chance in life to overcome mistakes, and that is what I have tried to do by pursuing my creative passion for photography and helping others pursue theirs. I am grateful I?ve had a chance to spend the last 30 years doing something productive.


?My love of photography was born out of a desire to make a positive difference. We all sustain hardships, regrets and obstacles in life. I have found great meaning through creative pursuits. No matter what your circumstances, I hope my story can help you see the hope that exists as you reach for your own photographic success.?


This was rather odd, so off to Google I went, and soon found even more interesting information. The Sept. 17, 1984 InfoWorld magazine published the following: ?A parolee from Idaho suspected in an eight-state crime spree that included stolen computers and pirated software has been arrested in Cheyenne, Wyoming.


?Alfred Scott Bourne, of Indianapolis, was arrested Aug. 6 on a Colorado theft warrant, after Cheyenne police received a tip from Denver FBI agents. Bourne was also wanted for a February 1982 parole violation. After his arrest, policed discovered warrants for Bourne from nearly every Western state. Cheyenne police say that Bourne learned computer programming while serving time in Idaho state prison.?


Sure enough, there?s a photo of Bourne, same smile, much more hair, running with the story.


The rest of the story tells of how he ran several cons, including some based on the Commodore 64 computer, stole a car, a synthesizer and floppy disks.


This tale shows that even dyed-in-the-wool crooks can in fact turn their lives around and turn into something. I have personally spent over 100 hours, perhaps double that, listening to his photography podcast. He has been one of my professional idols.


Yet the other side bothers me. As a former courts and cops reporter, I?ve had some interaction with the crook side. I wonder how many people in the court system realize their misdeeds now could haunt them 30 years down the road?


Admittedly, criminals by their very nature, generally don?t give a rodent?s rectum about their good name. They also tend to have short life expectancies, too.


But Bourne?s good name has now become mud. I imagine a good number of his loyal followers will drop off like flies, because of it. Will his advertisers want their corporate names advertised on his blog? These are not minor players either, but some of the more prominent advertisers and products in the future. I wonder how many minutes it will take PocketWizard or Animoto to drop him like a hot potato after being e-mailed the InfoWorld story? I know I wouldn?t want my company?s name associated with a convicted con man.


It?s a double edged sword. We want convicts to rehabilitate themselves and become meaningful contributors to society. But we also don?t want anything to do with them.


Maybe the solution is don?t become a criminal in the first place. My heart doesn?t bleed too much for Scott Bourne. He should have kept his nose clean to begin with.


Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at brian.zinchuk@sasktel.net.

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