Full Disclosure is required and seldom done with photography

When I talk about a product and I have been given any compensation I must inform you about that relationship. This is called full-disclosure. It is best that I start the conversation with you up front and not at the end of the message.

Sadly, many photographers who are compensated by camera manufactures or software companies are not fully disclosing this relationship they have to their audience. Therefore too many customers are not recognizing them as the hawkers, peddlers or costermongers that they really are for these brands. Because they are biased you need to know.

When a photographer talks about they just made a switch from camera brand A to camera brand B I think you need to know if they were compensated.

I would go so far as to say that some photographers if it were not for their endorsement deals would not be a working pro. They are pretty much full time spokes persons for the brand. Many of them are great photographers, but in my opinion would still be great photographers no matter the brand they use.

Zack Arias who does reveal his relationship with vendors stopped speaking as much as he was because he realized he wanted his examples to be what he was doing on jobs for other than the sponsor. He told me that he realized when he first started speaking he would pull up an example and say last week when I did this shoot was getting replaced by a couple years ago when I did this for a client.

I have always loved Zack for his candor and his passion for creativity.


Now one of the biggest places you see advertising is in product placement in movies.

According to a Priceonomics analysis, products placed into storylines can be a lot more successful for brands than traditional advertisements, like TV ads. It’s easier to sell a viewer on the value of a product if they’re emotionally invested in the storyline in which it’s presented, rather than a viewer who’s watching an ad totally out of context. Plus, it’s far too easy to skip ads and zone out during ads nowadays, anyway.

When a photographer with a great eye and extremely creative is picked up by a brand it is the same thing as product placement in a movie. E. T. could have used M&M’s instead of Reese’s Pieces and the storyline wouldn’t have been greatly impacted, but the product used benefitted by 65% jump in sales due to the movie placement. Is one candy better than the other?

My disclosures

I am an Amazon Affiliate and a Cradoc fotoSoftware Affiliate. I get a small percentage of sales for Amazon links and a little more if you buy Cradoc fotoQuote, fotoBiz or their keyword software.

Every time I start a blog post talking about a product I am now doing my best to disclose up front and not at the end my connection. I would love for every blog to start with a disclosure because that means I am earning more than I do now from writing this blog.

Now I wish I were a Nikon Ambassador, but I am not. If I were and I was at a conference speaking I would want to be sure when I am introduced that this is said that I am a Nikon Ambassador. This way you know right up front that it is in my best interest for people to go out and buy Nikon gear after I speak. The reason is simple then Nikon will continue this relationship. If sales do not materialize from my work for Nikon then they will terminate that relationship and find someone who does help sell their gear.

Dave Black, a Nikon Ambassador, puts his relationship on the main page of his website http://www.daveblackphotography.com/.

TIP for you!

If you are a fan boy or fan girl of certain photographers and listen to them for what gear and software they recommend, take the time and find out if they are compensated in any way at all by those products.

You need to know when a photographer is talking about stuff you can purchase, which can be gear, software or services if they are compensated in anyway by that brand.

There are a few photographers who do get compensation like free gear or discounted for them and then will write in a blog post a quite misleading comments that say these are their own words and the company didn’t pay them to write that review.

The word BUT negates or cancels everything that goes before it. Therefore when a sponsored photographer says but I wasn’t paid directly for these comments, they are misleading you. They are making the water murky.

If a photographer isn’t giving you a full disclosure can you trust their comments?

For the most part it is the six inches behind the eye that determine the greatness of the photo more than the six inches in front of the eye.

When do you have to make the disclosure?

The FTC guidelines for endorsements and testimonials in advertising say if there is a connection between the endorser and the seller of the product or service, full disclosure is required.



Penalties for noncompliance can range from a written warning and request to provide full disclosure to the maximum of an $11,000 civil fine (per incident).