I love your straight up, can do, no B.S. style. One bit of straight shooting I'd like to clarify... Are you paid by Fuji? If you are not, great. If you are, and you post this Q, great as well. But if you are paid and bury this Q, well that would sort of blow.
I’ve tried to be super clear about this and in an attempt to continue to be clear I’ll address it again. Let me put it in a timeline.
2011 - A student at a workshop had the x100 soon after it had come out. He let me use it for the day. I fell in love with it.
I bought an x100 the very next day.
About a week after getting the x100 I went to New York and walked the streets with the x100 and my love affair with shooting street photography began. I had walked those streets before with a DSLR and never shot an image worth a damn.
I then write my Fuji x100 review to talk about how much I loved that damn camera. That was 2011.
In 2012 I’m heading to Dubai to teach at Gulf Photo Plus. The good folks at GPP reached out to Fuji Middle East and told them I’m heading that way in March and that I LOVE their cameras. Would they like to do something while I’m there? Maybe give a presentation about the camera or something? I was down with that. Cool. They just made the greatest pain in the ass camera the digital world has ever seen. I’ll talk about it!
They reply that a new camera is coming out and they’d love to hear my feedback on it and let me go shoot with it. They then think about it more and reach out to me to see if I would be game for being HIRED to go to INDIA with the new camera (X-Pro1) and shoot promotional photos with the camera. They’ll send a videographer along to film it and use that as promotional material as well. They pay a creative fee, usage, and all expenses and give me a camera.
I thought about that for one second and said I would be happy to do this job!
I sign no contract to endorse the camera or review it or tweet about it or any of that. I sign no NDA. Two days before leaving for GPP a package arrives from Japan with an X-Pro1 kit.
I shoot in India. My life is changed.
Later that year Fuji asks if I would go to Germany to speak at their booth for Photokina. I’ve always wanted to go to Photokina. The problem was Photokina fell on the same weekend I was to take Meghan to New York for our anniversary. I told Fuji that while I would LOVE to go to Germany for them I just couldn’t cancel plans on my wife. Then they said she could come too and I’d be getting paid for it as well.
Went to Germany with Meghan.
2013 the x100s is coming out. Would I be interested in going to Istanbul and do the thing I did in India with the new x100s?
.5 seconds later I said yes.
Got a camera. Got a plane ticket. Got a check. Fed my family. Fed my soul.
I’ve done a few things with Fuji USA as well. Similar situations.
Never signed a contract. Never signed an NDA. They know full well that I’m a bit of a loose canon and I will say anything I want at any time about any camera. They have never asked me to filter my criticism of their cameras. They’ve never asked me to push something for them. Tweet something for them. Blog something for them. If I promoted for them (which I have happily done) I was hired for that specific promotion.
They hire me like any other company hires a photographer for a job. I really like that about them.
I will tell you that I have been offered so many things from so many companies. They want me to tweet. They want me to blog. I have the ability now to get bags full of gear if I want to. I’ve been offered to have X gear in my bag replaced with brand new Y gear… for no charge. I’ve been offered to fly to meetings to become a brand ambassador where I’d have access to anything and everything they make. I’ve been offered stupid money to have my blog reskinned with banner ads for a few different companies.
No thanks. I use what I use. I like what I like. I’ll say whatever the hell I want to say about anything I use or don’t use or like or don’t like.
I do have relationships. Relationships are always awesome to have. Relationships are friendly. Sponsorships are mired in legality. I never want a sponsor to call me and ask me to take a blog post down because they don’t like what I have to say. I never want to feel pressured that I have to mention a sponsor X number of times on Twitter. I’ve known brand ambassadors who have gotten phone calls from a sponsor because they just saw this person mention a competitor in a tweet. One tweet! Jeebus. No thanks.
Every relationship I enter into in this industry I let them know right up front that I don’t want sponsorship. I don’t want pressure to make X blog posts for them. I don’t want to put a banner Ad on my main blog for them. I will say anything I want about their product and their competitor’s products. They have to understand this because there is to be no pulling on my reins by them. If they are cool with that then I’m cool with that. Just told this to a company last week! Yeah. Let’s see what a 41 megapixel camera phone can do. Wink. Wink.
My relationship with Fuji has been the first time my integrity has been called into question in this industry. Some things some folks have said about me has made me question whether or not I should work with them again. The fact is Fuji has become a good client. They make amazing products. They really care about the industry and the products they make. They are good people. They are the full package. Why would I end that? That would be stupid. All because I’m worried about ten people on dpreview?
I swear on all that is good and holy and pure… Another camera manufacturer could offer me $100,000 to switch to their gear and I wouldn’t take it. Hand on the Bible. I wouldn’t take it. It wouldn’t be worth it. Leica could offer to replace all my gear and I … I …. ummmm… breathe deep…. I wouldn’t take it. :)
IF someone wants to continue to question my relationship with Fuji then that’s on them. If Fuji never hired me again for a job I’d still use their gear. I lurve Fuji and I want them to do really really really well so anything I can do to help them… Cool. I can not stress enough how much they care about all of the photographers using their products.
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- hoffmannphotography said: Considering you’ve covered this so many times I have to ask, why are there so many trolls waiting to pounce or catch others in some sort of scandal? What bothers me more is that almost all of them love being anonymous. Btw, rhetorical question…
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- griffoart said: Good on you Zack, I’ve just switched to the Fuji X-E1 thanks for the you tube presentations, awesome…. Photography has come back to me. I just love the X-E1 experience it is just perfect. One camera one lens I don’t need anything more for now…
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