Canon Drops Photographer for Not Having Enough Followers: Time to Up Your Instagram Game?

We'd all like to think the number of followers we have on Instagram isn't harming our business, but it seems like it could be. Here's how to give your social presence a jump start in 2019.

The team over at The Futur are back once again with another fascinating video with photographer Yvette Roman. The theme of this week's debate is social media's impact on professional photography which is a topic I'm sure many of us have wondered about. Early on in the discussion Roman talks about how Canon changed their mind to hire her for a high profile job because the number of followers she had was far too low. While I'm not surprised things like this happen, it is disappointing to hear that the likes of Canon would hold a talented photographer's follower count against them when they ticked every other box.

You'd hope that if your portfolio and website looked like a million dollars then it wouldn't matter if you only had a few thousand followers on Instagram. Unfortunately, that one chink in your armor could be enough to plant a seed of doubt in someone's mind and it's for this reason that you should be making a concerted effort to try to align the message you give off in the many places you show your work.

Chris Do, the founder of the Futur, explains to Roman how her Instagram account is lacking the personal story which would add perceived value to her pictures as well as help potential followers warm to her and motivate them to hit the follow button. While many of us prefer to stay behind the camera, showing your audience who you are and what you are about, really can help to paint a bigger picture and allow you to stand out in the sea of images that are out there.

Do goes onto talk about how many photographers fail to either inform or inspire with their accounts and this can be a big reason why they may be struggling to pull in the followers. I have to agree with this point entirely and as much as it's important to show your personality on your social pages, too many baby or pet pictures on a professional page can be a big turn off for followers that came to your account to see great photography.

The video is jam-packed with useful pointers on how to up your game when it comes to social media. Running at over 45 minutes this deep conversation between Do and Roman is a long one but well and truly worth the watch.

What are your thoughts on Canon dropping a photographer for not having enough followers? Do follower counts really matter? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Lead image by Frits Ahlefeldt used under Creative Commons.

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Josh Zaring's picture

Most of the Canon “Master of Light” photographers barely have any followers, so this sounds bogus. Maybe they’ll consider me, it’s taken me YEARS to break past 10k followers!

aurèle brémond's picture

some have 100k follower, some have a little more than 10k, and some ... don't have an IG account (and they were good before internet existed ...)

Jen Photographs's picture

This makes me think there's more to the story. Maybe there's a different reason that Yvette isn't disclosing.

Kurt Lawson's picture

Maybe the criteria for the "Master of Light" is different than for what they wanted for the commercial job. Why should we assume that the two things are the same?

Yvette Roman's picture

Hi J, et al - it is true...this really happened. I was given the job, and then 20 minutes later, it was taken away, and the art director did tell me that it was b/c of my Instagram following. I have disclosed all I know about the situation. Perhaps there was more, but I only have that (my) side of the story, which has been disclosed in full. In the end, losing that job was a game changer for me - it resulted in the realization that in this world, it counts. In retrospect, I wouldn't have changed a thing, as it resulted in my having to deeply consider my career trajectory, and how best to adjust to working in this environment. I have used Canon equipment for decades - their cameras and lenses are impeccable. I love their products, and I continue to have massive appreciation for the technology that has taken my career to where it is. Feel free to ask any questions you like...if any. I'm here. XX

udor nyc's picture

Hi Yvette! I feel your pain, I am scrambling on IG for years... I was a guest on the American Fashion Podcast and two of the other guests were Alexandra Steigrad, media editor for Women's Wear Daily, and Mickey Boardman, the editorial director of Paper Magazine. Until then, I had never utilized my IG account. But Mickey and Alexandra schooled me (without them knowing!) about Instagram and that's the single most important tool for photographers and models in existence. Even more important that a website.

The reason for them wanting 50K+ followers is that this means INSTANT reach, because you post a BTS photo from your shoot... it reaches 50K and more of your followers... that's advertising for them and that's why the art director's low IG number doesn't matter, but yours is so important.

I am trying to up my IG game big time... but I need to develop the discipline to have one post daily and not months and months in between posts...

Good luck to you! :)

Alex Stevens's picture

Yvette - curious - you mention the Art Director - was this from Canon's agency or directly at Canon?

John Dawson's picture

This is just more evidence of the commoditization of photography.

imagecolorado's picture

It could be a blessing in disguise.

I dropped Canon for not having enough critically sharp sharp images.

Karim Hosein's picture

You dropped them? I didn't even take them up on the offer.

Oh, wait…. They never made me an offer.


Deleted Account's picture

If the cult of personality is what sells, then, they are not wrong for prioritizing that. Nothing new or unreasonable about it, might not like it, but it is what it is.

John Dawson's picture

Everything, by definition, is what it is. Nothing can be what it isn't, as that would violate the logical rule of non-contradiction.

Deleted Account's picture

I guess you're not a fan of colloquialisms.

Jeff Walsh's picture

I bet you're super fun to be around

Mike Reilly's picture

I'd buy him a beer.

Felix Wu's picture

Canon USA?

Jonah Ritchie's picture

Thanks for the share bro! Signed up to The Futur on Youtube..

thomas Palmer's picture

douche company

Diane Marie's picture

Looking at someone like Peter McKinnon proves that personality is important. People don’t understand how he got so popular so fast, but my best guess is Peter. He just seems so darn nice. Like his photography is definitely pro, but there are many others equally good. But, dang, don’t ya just wanna hang out with Peter? He just seems so real.

16mm Camera's picture

He comes off as unoriginal and uninspired for me persoanlly. I’ve seen very few seemingly authentic moments from what I have seen from him, he is a magician after all and I do know all his tricks. Maybe that’s why.

Nick B's picture

Problem is, other photographers who met him say his YouTube personality is all fake...

Jen Photographs's picture


If all the youtubers showed their real personalities, very few would have a strong following.

Nick B's picture

In the case of landscape photography which is the genre I follow, most youtubers seem to show their true personality, and yes, only one has a strong following, and that's Thomas Heaton. It's still low though by "youtube personality standards", at around 350k followers, but in a year I'm pretty sure he'll reach one million. Most of the ones who have above 1 million do a large number of gear reviews or tutorials and don't focus on their photography.

Dilyana Hezhaz's picture

I'm a big fan of his work, he also comes across as a well grounded guy who more than knows his craft. Nothing pretentious or too flashy, just solid landscape work and tips for other photographers in the genre. I'd rather follow a guy like this then someone more focused on the whole 'lifestyle influencer' thing. Sadly, we've been living in a Black Mirror era for quite a while now, it's just starting to blow up more and more.

Diane Marie's picture

Wow, so Peter McKinnon is not the real deal? Well, that’s disappointing. I’ll have to check out his earlier stuff if it’s still up. I’d be interested to know what the other youtubers that have met him say he’s really like. I guess he just has one of those pleasant faces that I hoped matched his personality. Anyway, I will change my comment to say he PROJECTS a great personality, and that is why he draws so many in. I will have to meet him to know what he’s really like. LOL

David Moore's picture

make all your photos orange and blue and maybe do some shoots with neon.

Chris Silvis's picture

I just snorted. Lmao

David T's picture

I feel offended

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