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Nikon USA adds four new brand ambassadors

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Nikon USA added four new brand ambassadors: Bambi Cantrell, Tamara Lackey, Blair Bunting and Doug Gordon:


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The Nikon Ambassador Program Expands to Include Four New Photographers

MELVILLE, NY – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the addition of four new photographers to the Ambassador Program, a collective initiative dedicated to recognizing the most influential leaders in modern photography. The four additions include commercial shooter Blair Bunting; wedding and portrait photographer Bambi Cantrell; wedding photographer Doug Gordon; and lifestyle and family photographer Tamara Lackey.

“These four photographers are an exciting addition to the program and bring with them a collective energy as well as a diverse range of talents and shooting styles,” said Mike Corrado, NPS manager, pro relations and product marketing, Nikon Inc. “They embody the essence of the Ambassador Program, which is to act as inspirational leaders and educators to other professional photographers, and those looking to further their craft.”

The addition of these accomplished photographers further expands the styles and photographic disciplines represented in the program. Already considered mentors, they exemplify the founding ideology of Nikon’s Ambassador Program, which is to empower photographers through education and inspiration, and work directly with Nikon to communicate the needs of an evolving photo industry.
The new additions to Nikon’s Ambassador Program include:

  • Blair Bunting – Bunting is known for his invigorating automotive photography as well as his portraits of professional athletes. Based in Southern California, Bunting has an impressive roster of clients for his commercial photography.
  • Bambi Cantrell – Cantrell is a San Francisco based portrait photographer, who is well known for her wedding, engagement and boudoir imagery. This award-winning photographer is considered a highly influential storyteller with a distinct photographic style.
  • Doug Gordon – Gordon is a Long Island, NY based wedding photographer and instructor. Gordon is recognized by his energetic and lively presentation style, and has created a multitude of resources for educating photographers on the art of posing and creative portrait photography.
  • Tamara Lackey – A North Carolina based family and lifestyle photographer, Lackey is a celebrated author, instructor and speaker, with a flair for delivering an authentic portrayal of her subjects. Whether photographing children’s portraits, families, celebrities or dignitaries, Lackey’s image style conveys the genuine emotion that makes her a trendsetting photographer.
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  • Mike D

    Talk about contrasting styles between Bambi/Tamara and Blair/Doug. The first two beautifully photograph people and children and the second two race cars and atom bombs. Am I the only one that finds this hilarious if not stereotypical.

    • Global

      Its not a large enough sample size to be considered a stereotypical Gender selection. If you immediately excluded every race car & nuke photographer who was a man, and immediately excluded every wedding and children photographer who was a woman for only 4 positions, it would be very odd.

      I think more glaring is the fact that NONE of these brand ambassadors are anything other than White people and there are only 4 women.

      Warning: Rant (but half-teasing, just to prompt thoughts)

      The sample size for the entire group is large enough that there should be some variation within the group. The racial makeup seems quite Racist to me considering African Americans are ~12% of the population, Asians are ~5%, Hispanics are 16~%+, and 9~%+ are some Other race or Mixed. Even if we take the largest assumption of 72% White, out of 20 Brand Ambassadors, we should see at least a MINIMUM of 4 photographers who are NOT strictly fair-skinned White people. Its highly likely that Nikon USA is recruiting with discrimination, unless Nikon just thinks there are NO people of color with photographic talent… because that seems to be their message in this Brand Management pool.

      If Nikon really wanted to stop being discriminatory in their recruiting practices, and actually represent the US market, and if they even tried to consider Non-White Races, Mixed, Other, and Hispanic (even white Hispanics), then Nikon should properly have 4-8 Non-White or Non-White Hispanic/Other/Mixed members of the Brand Ambassadors. Again, unless Nikon thinks there are no people of color with talent..?

      Likewise, their Gender bias is evident in that they only have 4 women of 20 brand ambassadors. Does Nikon think that women only represent 20% of the US photographic population? Or does Nikon think that men’s work is 4 times more relevant and valuable than women’s work, such that 80% of their brand ambassadors should be men? Maybe in Japan that is true — where women are expected to stay home and not get into the work force — but in other countries, like the US, and even South Korea, Japan’s neighbor, and elsewhere in the world, women are considered more integral to the economy.

      I just wonder if the Brand Ambassador slogan is supposed to read as: “I AM A WHITE MALE” — because it looks like that’s what they are projecting.*

      (* Granted, take this all with a grain of salt — Nikon is an Asian/Japanese company, and when you operate in scores of countries around the world, its very easy to be biased towards the majority in any given territory. I don’t think they are intentionally racist or sexist — but I am saying that their recruiting procedure for Brand Ambassadors appear to lack awareness of America’s diversity. This mix might be perfectly acceptable for Sweden or Norway — and no one would flinch twice at a homogenous group in Japan — but it can have the opposite of the intended effect [of solidarity and familiarity] in a highly diverse country like the US or Brazil and others. Nikon should review how it sees the US market and how it projects its brand image — because not every photographer is an old white man in checked shorts that plays golf on the weekends & sometimes its better to project a Brand that does nothing than to project a Brand that is discriminatory in how it views its customers.)

      /Rant (again, I don’t judge Nikon by this, I assume that White males are the majority of Nikon products users — I just wrote this to prompt thoughts on the topic; we don’t know each others races or genders on this site — but one can infer from this ever increasing cadre of brand ambassadors what race and gender Nikon thinks is most important to Nikon)

      • http://richardrossiphotography.com Richard

        I understand exactly where you’re coming from and in principle I agree with you but for different reasons. The relevant pool for Nikon to draw from isn’t the population as a whole but rather the population of professional photographers. I have absolutely no data to back this up, but from my observation, the vast majority of professional photographers are white. A majority are probably male, but certainly not 80%. So in terms of gender, the Nikon ambassadors pool is out of whack if the standard is a comparison with the available pool of professional photographers. It’s also had to believe that if Nikon’s goal was to find the 20 or so best or most representative photographers they’d end up with an 80-20 male-female breakdown. There are just too many fabulously talented female photographers out there for that to make any sense.

        As for the racial makeup, even if you concede that the vast majority of pros are white, it makes little marketing sense not to include African-Americans, Latinos and Asians in your ambassadors group as these are the fastest growing ethnic groups in the North American market. Ethical considerations aside (and I’m not saying they should be ignored), It’s just dumb marketing to ignore the growth segment of any market.

      • Ric

        I must be color and gender blind. I didn’t notice at all.

      • AM I Am

        There are actually 5 women: Bambi, Dixie, Tamara, Robin, and Ami.

      • Darkness

        Basketball ambassadors its the other way round, jeez numbuts, its the way the INDUSTRY works. Ever been to PhotoPlus?

      • GT

        Take the chip of your shoulder!! Who cares whether what gender or race people are?

        One minute people like you are stating that people are all equal and it doesn’t matter what race/gender people are…then suddenly you want an equal representation of each?!

        Maybe black people and women tend to follow the crowds and shoot Canon?

        Can you actually name any black photographers worthy of being ambassador’s for Nikon?

        You need to get a grip!!

        • Guest

          terry White

      • will

        I don’t think you can look at overall demographic stats when talking about any individual profession/institution. The distribution isn’t the same – if it were, then why don’t white males make up much more of the prison population in the US? Sesame Street cast?

    • Mike D

      Just to clarify, my comment is only about gender style. No other inferences were intended.

  • tertius_decimus

    Anyone who decides to put background music on the start page of his website should go forth and die. Period.

    • preston

      People that do mildly annoying things should die? I’d hate to see what you wish upon people that actually commit crimes. .

      • Paul

        also death. duh.

      • Molly

        You qualify for a molestation since you are far too uptight.

    • Q

      Their children should be sterilized and their web hosting and fb accounts should be cancelled as well.

      • neversink

        They should come to Nairobi, Kenya and be forced to live in a slum for the rest of their lives.

  • http://IslandNature.ca Dave Ingram

    I don’t see Scott Kelby on this list …
    : )

    • broxibear

      What ?…you mean Scott Kelby and Blair Bunting are two different photographers ? Their pictures are almost identical…maybe they just attended the same generic workshops.
      Joking aside, it would be nice to see some less generic photographers taking the same type of photographs.

    • Jeff Hunter

      Kelby defected to Canon. I guess they gave him more free gear and cash.

      • preston

        And he likes certain aspects of their cameras better.

        • Jeff Hunter

          Of course that’s the “official” word. That’s exactly what I would expect him to say. He’s got to earn his keep!

        • Isyss

          Yes. They’re free. I like free stuff too

    • Isyss

      Hmm Scott Kelby is in the Canon Camp. How can he be a Nikon Ambassador. Look at his gear page: no cameras but Canon. Hmm no cameras I guess?

      • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

        This was a joke, Kelby changed from Nikon to Canon few months ago but as far as I am aware he was never an ambassador.

        • isyss

          Yes I know that he switched. His prerogative. I’m just grumpy because he used to be a great source for Nikon gear, what to buy, how to use them, etc

          • Darkness

            Thank canon for taking that away from you…Hate the way they just buy up people for their silence.

        • http://IslandNature.ca Dave Ingram

          @NikonRumors:disqus is right – I originally posted to add a little humour to the discussion : )

  • broxibear

    Anyone out there know how the “Ambassadors” are paid for being ambassadors ?…are they on some sort of contract that includes extra fees for workshops, talks etc ?, do they sign contracts forbidding them to say anything negative about Nikon or anything positive about other camera manufacturers ?
    What I’m really asking is how much are they contolled by Nikon…are they just following Nikon’s scripts just like any other actor would appearing on an advert selling you a product ?…does anyone care ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38UlEzCgxoQ

    • Jeff Hunter

      Good question. I would like to as well.

    • SPfan

      I’m sure these folks have convinced them they are so smitten with Nikon that it’s an honor to be an endorser. The perks come in the form of mutually valuable cross promotion, and loans of equipment that does not need to be returned any time soon. They may have to agree to some exclusivity but mostly it’s say good things about me and I’ll say good things about you.

    • Nikonion

      Broxi,

      They get gear from Nikon which they either can buy or return when the ambassador period is over. They have to have x amount talks/workshops or something similar for Nikon each year. In return they get good advertisement for them selves.

  • nsbancroft

    I had the pleasure of a chance encounter with Blair Bunting on a commercial flight a few years back. Not only is he a talented photographer, he also happens to be a really down to earth guy.

  • whisky

    *relieved*

    looks like ashton kutcher didn’t make the cut either. :))

  • Roger Wilco

    If they want to improve the brand image, they should spend some money improving their customer service centers.

  • Q

    Famous photographers…such mixed emotions I have about them.

    • mikeswitz

      Envy? False Pride?

  • Blair Bunting

    So…. I am totally down to answer any questions on this one. I am wiped from a campaign that we wrap tomorrow, but I will dedicate Friday to answering any questions you have. I would be the first to tell you that I don’t deserve this recognition, but and honored to have received it. I just hope that I can serve you guys well and truly must say thank you for the support.

    Bb

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      Thanks for stopping by :) This is the first post by a Nikon ambassador on [NR]!

      • Blair Bunting

        No problem man. If you send me a list of questions, I’d be glad to answer them as best I can. Obviously I can’t talk about future gear, but you seem to have your way with finding that stuff out quite well already ;-)

        • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

          Alright, I will spread the word.

        • http://www.gordonmoat.com/ Gordon Moat

          I’ll start off in a different gear direction. While I have done some automotive photography, it’s a different level to what you are doing. My question is directed towards grip and support gear. Wondering if you can discuss some of the support gear you use now. Thanks in advance.

          • Blair Bunting

            Gordon, good question. The support gear (grip) I use on campaigns varies, sometimes due to budget, and sometimes due to availability. If I can get a 30 foot light bank, I will usually key it, but often times this isn’t possible. In that situation a boom light weight hot light really rocks for painting the car. The recent Schumacher F1 car on my site is a good example. We ended up painting it with a strip boxed K 5600 Joker Bug when the light bank wasn’t maneuverable.

            • http://www.gordonmoat.com/ Gordon Moat

              Thanks for the reply. I haven’t made much use of hotlights, though it is a good consideration for portability and when you need to move around a bit. Seems the results would come a bit faster than multiple captures with strobes, and assembling in post.

        • http://www.gordonmoat.com/ Gordon Moat

          I’ll start off in a different gear direction. While I have done some automotive photography, it’s a different level to what you are doing. My question is directed towards grip and support gear. Wondering if you can discuss some of the support gear you use now. Thanks in advance.

    • Doppler Photo

      Blair: As someone who jumped from a D300 to a D7100, I still want a D400. One
      big reason is that I want pro-level body design (off the top of my head,
      (1) Give me a reasonable buffer, (2) move that front Fn button back
      where it belongs, (3) bring back the two-stage shutter release mechanism
      from the D300 that’s still on the D800 and D4), and I’d be more
      than happy to put my money where my mouth is. I imagine that I’m not
      alone, although as time passes, the people in this group are looking for
      ways to jump ship.

      Does Nikon realize that there are still
      serious shooters who make the informed decision to shoot DX rather than
      FX? Is Nikon interested in supporting us?

      • Blair Bunting

        I honestly don’t know what is coming to the market. My current focus is on my setup that I have been using religiously for the last few years (D3x and D800), and I haven’t had enough vacation to learn many of the other systems from Nikon. I am just hoping big time to get a Nikon 1 V3 in time for a summer vacation with my wife….. fingers crossed

      • Candy

        Oh I am so with you on the D400.

    • broxibear

      Hi Blair,
      Thanks for posting and agreeing to take some questions.
      Without going into actual amounts (that’s none of my business) what compensation or payment do you get from Nikon for being an ambassador…is it a single payment for a contract over a period of time, are you given free equipment to own ? And are you given a script from Nikon telling you what you’re allowed to say and what you’re not allowed to say…ie if you don’t like a particular lens are you allowed to say that, or are you not allowed to say anything negative about Nikon ? P.S. did you have to get Nikon’s permission before agreeing to answer questions on nikonrumors, or do they not know ?

      Thanks.

      • Blair Bunting

        There are a bunch of questions, so I will try and go numerically on this one…..
        1. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to speak about the details of my relationship with Nikon. But suffice to say it is actually more of a collaborative relationship that I saw the opportunity to try and teach more people about how I do what I do.
        2. I wish I got free gear. But I do get a chance to try out the latest equipment for projects. More important than this is I get to give feedback on the gear I have, and that means the world to me.
        3. Nikon have made it very clear to me that as an Ambassador, I am not working FOR them, but working WITH them. They know that integrity is very important to me and allow me to speak about the products that I truly LOVE to work with.
        4. They know I posted on NR and were cool with me answering the questions.

        • broxibear

          Thanks for answering what you could Blair.
          Just one last thing, if you could get me the phone number of Nikon India Ambassador Priyanka Chopra that would be fantastic, lol.

    • Matthew Saville Baldon

      Ironically, Blair, you’re probably my favorite of all these new people. I have no interest in the rockstarred-out mentality, which the others seem to absorb or at least play along with.

      Keep up the good work, and please use your newfound status to tell Nikon that we need A7R / A7S competition, stat! :-P

      • Blair Bunting

        Matt, thanks a ton man!!!! I am dying to meet the rest of the ambassadors, but will say this. I got an email or phone call from every single one on the day of the announcement and man did the make me feel like family.

        • Matthew Saville Baldon

          That’s really cool to hear, Blair, about the rest of the team calling you to welcome you.

          Maybe some day I’ll get that call. Who knows, astro-landscape photography is getting pretty popular these days!

          Take care,
          =Matt=

  • Allan Smith

    Surely Rockwell should be on the list. He reckons he is pretty good. :)

  • mikeswitz

    Talk about brand ambassadors….this ought to work real well:

    http://www.marketing-interactive.com/nikon-consolidates-maxus/

  • David

    Why is ‘Nikon Guru’ Thom Hogan not on this list of ‘ambassadors’, as he has all the answers to Nikon’s woes and fancies himself a match for any photographer alive or dead.

    • AM I Am

      Because Thom’s suggestions normally go on the opposite direction of what Nikon actually does, and probably Nikon doesn’t like that.

    • nwcs

      Because Nikon Ambassadors are basically people charged with promoting the brand and selling product. That’s why I tend to ignore their pearls of wisdom. I’d rather have a neutral third party whose income does not derive from the company they promote.

      • Darkness

        DXO are the only scientific studies that matter and when canon and their tupperware lenses are shown to be shit, they bleat bias anyway. What about the 50 or so Masterzzz, Ambassadorzzz and Explorerzzz over at CPN?

        • nwcs

          Same thing. All those Explorers, Ambassadors, etc are basically promotional agents for their respective companies. Their skills may or may not be outstanding and such but they are essentially paid sponsorships.

          • Neopulse

            You say like it’s a bad thing being sponsored.

            • broxibear

              Hi Neopulse,
              I think what nwcs is talking about is objectivity.
              Corey Rich is a great example, he’s a Nikon ambassador, shot various videos for Nikon. in his films he praises the D4, D800 for their video ability. Yet if you watch Philip Bloom’s detailed reviews on those cameras he calls the footage unusable. Philip is a highly regarded, award winning film maker, he uses various cameras and pretty much tells it as it is. Corey Rich isn’t going to call the Nikon footage unusable or soft because he’s paid by them.
              Look at Steve Huff, a while back he reviewed a Fuji camera and it wasn’t a very positive article, that was Steve’s honest opinion…now Fuji not only refuse to send him any cameras to review, but apparently they ignore any type of contact he makes with them.

              Sponsorship may not be bad for the person being sponsored, but it does bring up other issues.

            • Neopulse

              I get what you’re saying, but the thing is that usually being sponsored (not sure if being an ambassador is of the same category, maybe there’s something different) is usually something one earns via recognition of work and/or achievements. Kinda like a pro racer who gets a sponsor in order to keep doing what they are doing with funding coming their way to help with spending. Having a biased review, maybe there is, then again no one is holding a gun to your head to buy something.
              I saw a video made by Phillip Bloom in which he tests out the video with a D800, 5D MKIII and D4. He liked the D800, but with a 3rd party AA filter attached to it. And of course the quality of video from each camera applies to different situations. A lot of people like using the Canon rather than Nikon to film certain things and vice versa. Video though is affected by other factors like lenses for example that play into the equation.
              Whether they make a recommendation or not the sponsored people, you actually see them using the gear. So it isn’t exactly fake what they are showing or advertising. If you see Bambi taking a bride with a D800 and getting a great shot, it was done with a D800. I don’t think they are falsely displaying the ability of the camera with some other camera instead.
              In the end the decision is up to you, take it for what it is or leave it.

            • nwcs

              It isn’t. Not at all. But I think it makes their product recommendations suspect.

  • David

    Why is ‘Nikon Guru’ Thom Hogan not on this list of ‘ambassadors’, as he has all the answers to Nikon’s woes and fancies himself a match for any photographer alive or dead.

  • Evan

    Bambi seems to be a real fan of that cracked-background look.

  • Neopulse

    Thought Bambi was an avid Canon shooter. I remember seeing Profoto videos of her and her 1D-X.

  • Jorge

    Seriously? Bambi?

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