These days, the business plan of just about every professional photographer keeping his or her head above water includes associations with manufacturers, software makers, camera stores, etc.
Over the years, I’ve had professional associations with several companies. But these were always forged because, first and foremost, I actually used their gear, and only then would I approach them (or vice versa) to see if we could find a mutually beneficial relationship that acknowledged my use of their gear.
I have never been wooed by a manufacturer to change allegiances, never been offered a great deal to switch systems, etc. Don’t ask me why, maybe I’ve never been enough of a marquee name. Suffice it to say, that when it comes to my associations with camera and other photo-related companies, first I have to fall in love with their gear, and only then do I jump in bed with them. I’m a very old-fashioned boy in that regard.
For many years, I was closely aligned with the great Nikon system and the wonderful folks who work there. It was a happy association that lasted a couple of decades. A few years ago, though, I started using Sony mirrorless cameras for my video and still work, buying them piecemeal at first, but eventually ending up using them full time, but still surreptitiously, so as not to upset that apple cart.
But after I bought my 10th Sony camera, and dozen or so of their lenses, I decided that I really needed to come out of that closet because I could no longer really be honest in my column and articles about what gear I was really using without upsetting the company and the people who had been so good to me for so long.
So I amicably ended my association with the wonderful folks and great gear at Nikon, and contacted Sony and got an invitation to become an associate of their Sony Artisans of Imagery program. Ironically, one of the biggest draws of being invited into such a program (i.e. the gear discounts) is totally wasted on me for the time being, because I had already purchased, at market prices, almost every piece of Sony gear I wanted before I was invited to join the program. (Hey, I’ve never claimed to be a business genius!).
So yes, I am “sponsored” by Sony, but no, I’m not an automatic marketing mouthpiece. If I like a piece of gear I’ll tell you about it, if I don’t, I won’t lie to you…I may not make a big deal of hating a certain piece of gear, but I won’t shill for it if I don’t like it.
Oh, and those hotlinks for the gear mentioned in the posts? They go to my favorite camera store, B&H, and yes, if you end up buying something by clicking through them, I make a few bucks.
But I used those hotlinks in my previous, very popular, travel photography blog, and despite delivering four years of high-quality, free how-to content, only about three readers ever clicked through and bought something, (resulting in a big, two-digit commission). So let’s just say I’m not holding my breath this time out. (I know, I know, it’s the new economy—content wants to be free. But so does my mortgage and cable bill, however nobody’s fighting to help me get traction in that arena:-).
So feel free to click through and shop till you drop…and know that I won’t ever try to sell you something that I don’t really like or use myself.