5 Things Photographers Need to Know About Brand Sponsorships

Portrait photographer Miguel Quiles recently created a much-requested video that touches on a little-understood subject within the world of photography: working directly with camera, lens, and accessory brands that want to sponsor you.

Quiles—who has been sponsored by or worked with Sony, Tamron, Profoto, Adorama, Phottix and many more since he started his photography career 8 years ago—wanted to tackle this subject because it’s often ignored in the course of doling out business advice to photographers. Many photographers don’t actually know how the process works.

“I get asked questions about this almost every week,” says Quiles, “and I think this video will serve as a great reference for people who are interested in working with brands.”

To that end, he discusses 5 important points that people either don’t know, or misunderstand, about photography brand sponsorships:

  1. There’s no such thing as ‘free’ – There are always strings attached. In addition to specific terms for promoting the brand, the sponsoring company will often require blanket permission to use your photos in exchange for “free” gear, an exchange that is often better for the company than the photographer.
  2. The best sponsorships are highly exclusive – If you’re going to approach a major camera or lens maker, you need to be certain that you bring something unique and uniquely valuable to the table.
  3. Many sponsors don’t pay their ambassadors – This is a common misconception; the truth his, many companies (especially smaller ones) don’t pay their ambassadors. “Free” gear (see point #1) is a far more common form of “payment” for sponsorship than an actual paycheck.
  4. There are many reasons why you might NOT get sponsored – These include: not having enough social media followers, the person in charge doesn’t like your public persona, etc.
  5. Sponsorships won’t legitimize your work – With few exceptions, most of your potential clients won’t care if you’re sponsored, or take that into consideration when hiring you.

Quiles dives into more detail on each of the points above in the video, so check that out if you want specifics. And if you’re interested in partnering with a brand, hopefully this gives you a small peek behind the corporate curtain, so you’re better equipped to handle these offers if and when they come your way.