Filipino Photographers Respond to Canon's Statement on Its Brand Ambassadors
The past few days have been messy—to say the least—for Canon Philippines. After a relaunch of its Crusader of Light Brand Ambassador Program sparked backlash for its lack of female and LGBTQ+ representation, the brand tried (and failed) to do damage control by rushing to put together an ill-named campaign for "Canon Lady Shooters." Then came the non-apology.
In an official statement, Canon Philippines said it abided by the philosophy of kyosei, which they explained as "living and working together for the common good," while adding that the roster of brand ambassadors were "evaluated through their professional expertise and consistent brand support."
Needless to say, the internet took even more offense with the statement. One user commented, "'Members are evaluated through their professional expertise' so you're saying all the experts you know are men?" Another interpreted the statement, saying, "'Listen, we know there's women photographers. We just didn’t think any were good enough!'"
In light of the controversy, Filipino photographers are taking matters into their own hands by highlighting female and non-binary photographers in the Philippines. The movement was started by photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales who curated a list of female and non-binary photographers on her Instagram. The names featured are Eloisa Lopez, Pau Villanueva, Cenon and Mav, Wawi Navarroza, Sara Erasmo, Xyza Bacani, Lisa David, Kimi dela Cruz, Regine David, and Dennese Victoria.
Miguel Nacianceno then honored the women photographers that mentored him in his career: "Attended my first photography workshop under Mandy Navasero. My first photo editor was Lyn Rillon. Coming up, I looked at the work of Lilen Uy, Jeanne Young. I got my studio hours assisting G-nie Arambulo. Wouldn’t be here doing what I do without all these women photographers."
Geloy Concepcion highlighted photographers like Eloisa Lopez, Regine David, Cru Camara, Lisa Marie David, Iya Forbes, Karen De La Fuente, Hannah Reyes Morales, Nana Buxani, Andrea Beldua, Jaja Samaniego, Kimberly dela Cruz, Yummie Dingding, Xyza Cruz Bacani, Pau Villanueva, Sara Erasmo, Arabella Paner, and Aya Cabauatan, to name a few.
Jilson Tiu, who was named as a Canon ambassador, shared his support for female and non-binary photographers by dropping out from the campaign as the controversy revealed that the brand doesn't align with his principles.
While the controversy has started a conversation, it's been a long time coming especially considering the fact that rival brand Nikon came out with a list of 32 all-male ambassadors back in 2017. Perhaps now we can get to a point where female and non-binary individuals can be highlighted without brands being called out in the first place.