How do you get noticed in a Crowd ?
I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked “how do you become a Brand Ambassador for a Photography Company ” It can be any brand and as I was probably with Fujifilm the longest, then people will assume I am talking about Fujifilm but this could apply to any Photography Company.
So how do you become a Brand Ambassador ? To be honest it’s hard work and dedication and most importantly a great body of work because without great images to back you up you can fall at the first hurdle. These days there are a few people that have slipped through the net because they know somebody that knows somebody or have a fake Instagram following but when it’s time to knuckle down and produce the goods its these people that fail.
So many people want to become a Brand Ambassador but they really don’t know what is involved they only see the tip of the iceberg and the perceived glory !
They don’t see the hundreds of hours that go into the job and the thought of standing on a stage talking to 60-1000+ people scares the crap out of quite a few. There are also the trolls and negative people that are too lazy to work hard for themselves and think you are going to help them when they can be arsed themselves !
I have given help and advice to lots of people over the years and also watched people knocking at the doors of lots of Brands and never making it ! Why is that you might ask and do you know most of the time they just give up too soon. Most the the time if they are good the brands will be watching them they might even have people in their social media accounts before they even know they are in there. I have watched people focus on a brand and daily swamp the brands hashtags and pump images all over their feeds in the hope of getting noticed and trust me this works. I have even had brands say to me what is he or she like and I say yea great good work to only to find out the person they were watching gave up and then got overlooked.
I was told once you can’t be a Brand Ambassador on your work alone but that is not strictly true as I believe to this day its still your work that gets you noticed first. Then yes of course they need to see where you fit in their Brand Ambassador Scheme ! If a company has a full set in each country from Street to Landscape Sport etc then you should be looking for one of these people to leave and seize your chance.
Times have changed and most brands now require you to be a Full Time Professional Photographer earning at least 90% of your income from Photography. There are a few exceptions and that’s were your hard work and image making skills come in.
With most brands it’s got to be a win win situation and there has got to be something in it for them and you.
I do laugh at times when I see people chasing after brands and think in three months or a year they might be working for Fujifilm or Sony etc I think it was nearly three years before Fujifilm even noticed I was there and running next to me was Jeff Carter and I think at the time he was posting and blogging like a man possessed ! I was at the time shooting like a mad man and hoping my work would get me noticed and it did.
I think around about 2013 I was in the middle of my Black and White project and I was approached by about 5 brands all in the same year and still to this day I get the odd email asking me if I would like to work with X or Y brand.
It’s a lot easier once you have worked with a few big brands as you then have more value to another Brand. I am only representing 1 brand at the moment and that’s the amazing Gnarbox Team this is a brand I believe in and have a strong connection with. I have turned down lots of brands and the main reason is I don’t like of believe in their product or I don’t like the way they do business. I won’t just represent someone because they pay me to represent them I have to keep my integrity intact.
When I left Fujifilm in 2017 quite a few people were wondering where I would go next and I thought it was amusing because as far as I am concerned Fujifilm are the best Camera Manufacturer out there at the moment with the best team, best integrity and the right vision for the future and they listen to the end user. I think Canon come second and after being a Nikon user for 40 years before I changed to Fujifilm I think Nikon are the most out of touch ! As a Nikon fan for 40 years I find the way they do business short sighted and rude. On this point if you want to be a Brand Ambassador you need to be loyal !
I have lost count of the people that have asked me how to be a Fujifilm ambassador then in 18 months jumped ship to Sony and that’s why the brands don’t rush into taking you on.
I know some people that think if they play up and are rude and nasty they will get noticed and it somehow has worked for a few people by slagging off one brand, they have managed to get involved with a rival ! I personally think that’s pathetic and there are a few out there with quite dubious backgrounds in the industry and I know some of these people personally and they have not done half the things they have on their CVs.
Some of them even admit fake it until you you make it mentality but it all goes wrong when you rock up for a job and can’t cope !!
The truth is it’s a long journey to be a Brand Ambassador first you need a body of work this takes time and if you have no images then you are looking at at least 5 years and at least 5 projects under your belt. I would say you do need to specialize I used to be known as a safe pair of hands that could shoot anything but that would not help me become a Brand Ambassador. In the end I had to go back to my passion and shoot Street and focus on that before I would get noticed.
You have to have a head for business and be able to take rejection as well. I learnt quite a lot from Stock Photography as rejection was high in the early years.
You also have to be able to do the job. It’s no good blagging your way in then not being able to stand on a stage and perform. Trust me it’s not easy to get up there and some of the best I have seen crapping themselves before they go on stage. You also have to be able to work very hard and very long hours and mostly weekends. I think David Noton once said “you have to do your time in the trenches before you can become a Professional Photographer” and he was spot on if you don’t learn the job inside out you will look stupid at some point.
In 2016 I hardly had a day off and was all over the UK at the drop of a hat and the lifestyle looks great but it can get bloody lonely living out of a hotel room and sitting on a train on your own for hours at a time.
Yes the rewards are great but trust me going to bed at 4am and starting at 6am for 14 days straight can take its toll.
People always see the SUCCESS but they don’t see the hard work, risk, late nights, struggles, failures, persistence, action, discipline, courage, changes, criticism, disappointments, adversity, rejections, sacrifice, marketing, and accounting that goes in to that SUCCESS !!
The biggest thing holding most people back in trying to work for a brand is they just don’t have what it takes to go the distance and these days they are just too lazy and want it all done for them and handed to them on a plate. The end goal for most people trying to be a Brand Ambassador is they want free stuff but trust me, it does not work like that and even though some brands do give stuff away most of the people who think wow that’s great, fail to deliver the goods and fail to impress the Brand and are just left with a camera body that they end up selling.
Some of the brands these days are to blame. They see someone with a fake Insta following and start throwing stuff at them only to find out the person can’t deliver !!
I have fallen foul of this myself and booked people with a huge following but they fail to get bums on seats at workshops or events because the following is fake ! Thanks to the Social Chain and quite a few other people now these accounts can be checked.
So my advice on trying to be a Brand Ambassador if that’s what you want to do, is to consider this, I decided to leave Fujifilm to get my own identity back as I felt I needed to have my own creative freedom to do my own projects again so be aware you will be signing a contract that in some cases can be quite restrictive. Make sure you are using that brand’s products and have been for quite a while and I mean really love that gear and then build yourself a body of work using their products and get some really good projects under your belt before hounding them to death on Social Media. Specialise in one area be it Street, Landscape or Portrait and even if you are a Full Time Wedding Photographer do a project that means something to you that could make people look at your work in a new way.
Work hard and be positive and buckle in for a long journey.
Someone once said to me how long will it take me to get in the Police I have been trying for 8 years, I said if you give up now you wont get in, she sighed and got in the following year and is now doing her dream job. It’s the same with the brands stick at it be loyal and produce great projects and they will find you.