Fake News & Product Endorsers

Fake News

Turn on the news or pick up a newspaper today and there most likely have been articles about how to spot “Fake News”. Sadly you must do a lot of research sometimes.

Some sites intentionally write false, humorous stories under the satire genre. A prime example is The Onion. Many people realize The Onion is a satirical publication. But if there’s any doubt, it’s pretty clear if you click on the site’s “About Us” tab.

One of the easiest ways to figure out if a news story is legitimate or not is to check it against the stories posted on other reputable sites.

If sites like The New York Times, CBS or CNN are running the same story, it’s likely true.

Here are some tips that many of these stories all say to look for:

1. Pay attention to the domain and URL
2. Read the “About Us” section
3. Look at the quotes in a story
4. Look at who said them
5. Check the comments
6. Reverse image search

Camera Gear for Football Games

Product Endorsers

First I have many friends who are affiliated with Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Fuji and Sony. Most of them do a great job of letting you know they are affiliated with these companies. I listen to them and take their advice many times. One of my favorites through the years is Bill Fortney. Formerly Bill was a Nikon Representative. Today he is retired but now a Fuji X-Photographer and does incredible work.

However nothing ticks me off more lately in the photography industry than those photographers who are not forth coming with their affiliations with manufactures. Actually the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t like it at all either and will come after you.

Here’s the golden rule behind all of the FTC’s guidelines: if money is changing hands, obvious disclosure must occur in-ad.

As a person reading blogs and articles you need to really be careful in this industry. As a whole I find many who are compensated in some way are not disclosing this to you as the reader.

Endorsers will seldom talk about other gear that may work as well or even better than what they are recommending. You just see their wonderful work and think if I buy that piece of gear I can shoot like them.

While I am first to say it is always the photographer and not the gear that is the main factor in getting a great photo, there are times where camera gear will let you make a photo otherwise not possible.

What I think is the bottom line is I want those photographers who are endorsing a product to be sure that the audience is aware that they have stepped into the Manufacturer’s Show Room when they are reading the comments.

Photographers who are being endorsed when they tweet they need to generally start the tweet with the words “Ad:”. This applies whether you’re using Sponsored Tweets, Promoted Posts, etc. or using paid evangelists or spokespeople who are promoting on your behalf.

This is a great post showing examples of how and not to Tweet. http://www.shiftcomm.com/blog/how-should-you-handle-the-new-ftc-social-media-regulations/

Corporate sponsors like Nikon, Canon, Sony, Sigma or any other business expect you to be their representative to the public. All of them have you signing some sort of an agreement for which you will be compensated in some way.

Sponsorships for photographers can be huge for no other reason than it shows a major manufacturer that is also endorsing you. This is great for marketing purposes.

At this moment I have and have never had a relationship for where I have been compensated for by a company other than recently when I signed up to be an Amazon Affiliate. However the only way I make money is if someone clicks on my link and buys something. While I may make a very small percentage of the sale the cost to the consumer is the same.

One of my favorite corporate sponsored photographers is Bill Fortney. He was always telling people he worked for Nikon and then gives you advice. Sometimes he would be really honest and even say while I work for Nikon I would buy this instead. Now if he did this too much I am sure Nikon would have fired him. Bill had actually found a way to be a transparent Nikon representative that made me listen more to him and take a lot of advice of his. I felt like he was really looking out for me.

How to know if someone is a Sponsor

1. Find their website and see if they are listed as

a. Nikon Ambassador
b. Canon Explorers of Light
c. Sony Artisan
d. Fuji X-Photographers
e. Sigma Pros

2. Do they post material without revealing their affiliation

a. Tweets
b. Facebook
c. Instagram

I don’t care how great a photographer’s work is, be careful in listening to any photographer who is being compensated for promoting any gear, software or product of any kind.

My advice to you is before you buy gear based on a pro’s recommendation know if they are endorsed and receive compensation of any sort from that manufacturer. If they are, then look for some users who are not endorsed and see what they are saying. Most of the online camera stores now have comments section that often is more revealing of gear than these spokespersons.