Nikon’s photo contest gives Canon the opportunity to do the right thing

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Photo by Qiau Liu

If you’re up on the camera world – or even if you’re not – there are probably two standout brands that come to mind: Nikon and Canon.

When I was buying my first DSLR, the choice came down to which brand shot better in low light in my budget. It was Canon.

Fast forward three years, I get paid to take photos and I exclusively use Canon products. These past few months have solidified my opinion on the brands, and it would take something drastic to change my viewpoint now, especially on such a large and important purchase.

A few months ago, Nikon raised eyebrows for their selection of photographers to promote their new camera. They picked 32 photographers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to head up the PR campaign — and every last one of them was male.

It doesn’t take long to see that women are already underrepresented in this field of work.

Need a close to home example? Look at the photographers in this newspaper alone.

Places like this are where photographers can get a leg-up in the industry and build a portfolio, and it’s genuinely disheartening that there is a lack of diversity in volunteers. Women, I know you’re out there, please take some photos.

I’ve only really had the opportunities I have because of the faith last year’s editor-in-chief of The Cord put in me and the fact that I made the largest purchase of my life in a camera I couldn’t really afford as a high school graduation gift to myself.

Normally I’m not a fan of using people’s hardships and controversy to sell products. I think it’s a cheap way to point to an already downtrodden group of people and make an example out of them in the hopes of drawing sales from acknowledging their problems.

I suppose an argument could be made that it’s progressive to have photographers from the geographical areas Nikon selected, and it is.

However, you can’t just check “yes” on one minority card and move on. I guarantee that there are very talented female photographers in these geographical areas too. No one falls into just one identity category.

The more diverse the people a company chooses to represent them, the more diverse the output will be.

With Nikon’s lapse of judgment — or them simply not caring at all — it’s disheartening to be in a position like mine.

However, with no doubt in my mind that these are connected, Canon has released a whole campaign embracing female photographers.

When I was waiting to see Thor: Ragnorok, there were two ads for Canon after the lights dimmed — both of which featured women behind the lens.

Normally I’m not a fan of using people’s hardships and controversy to sell products. I think it’s a cheap way to point to an already downtrodden group of people and make an example out of them in the hopes of drawing sales from acknowledging their problems.

The thing that’s different about Canon’s new campaign is that it’s so natural. They’re not talking about the woes of trying to make it as a female in a male-dominated industry.

The ads are about their cameras. It just happens to be women that are using them.

I’ve written countless articles in the past about how normalizing people in certain areas and fields is important to actually seeing equity in the first place.

The fact that Canon recognizes that — cash grab or not — is a step in the right direction, especially compared to their big-time competitor.

So what’s picture perfect? Inclusion.

Thanks Canon for making that a reality — and I’m also glad that your cameras take better pictures in low light.

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