Why this photographer quit his position as Canon ambassador after the brand was criticized for an inclusiveness issue


Photography needs a diverse view of the world, explains young photographer Jilson Tiu at ANCX, especially photojournalism.

JEROME B. GOMEZ | Jul 23, 2021

One of the photographers we love working with here at ANCX is Jilson Tiu. He photographed one of our first portraits of collectors, which gave us a taste of great pageviews. He followed esteemed lawyer Chel Diokno for a day during the 2019 election campaign. We once asked him to perform a visual essay he cared about – on the changing face of Manila’s Chinatown – to the era when everyone could talk about the influx of Chinese workers into the country. What we got was a touching update on “Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag”.

Recently, Jilson gave us another reason to admire him. In the midst of the backlash received by Canon Philippines’ marketing campaign celebrating an all-male line of brand ambassadors of photographers, Jilson, who was part of the Selected Male Shooters Gallery, abandoned his partnership with Canon. “It’s been a long time coming (3 years) and this is the tipping point,” Jilson wrote on a Facebook post.

The Canon campaign has been criticized for the lack of women in its programming, at a time when inclusiveness has become a major global concern, and as if the country lacks female photographers doing relevant and exemplary work. (Here the Philippine Hannah Reyes Morales, who herself makes impressive visual stories for major publications like National Geographic, has a few impressive names in mind.) The reaction was even more furious online when Canon issued a statement that did not include an apology.

Canon Philippines’ controversial campaign had an all-male gallery of ambassador photographers. Image from Canon Philippines on Facebook

On Thursday, Jilson broke his silence on the matter on his Facebook page. “Hello, I have been silent for the past few days about the Canon Ambassador launch campaign debacle,” he began. “My colleague even asked me if I knew the blurry portrait that remained on the poster. She asked me if there was a woman in [the] list, I said ‘yes, maybe, I’m sure meron yan.’ And I was wrong. To be honest, I don’t know what’s going on inside. I see the same window as you. As of today, I am relinquishing my position as Ambassador to Canon Philippines.

Jilson explained his journey with the camera brand. “So far he has been my partner for a decade of my career as a photographer,” he said. But the brand not apologizing for the campaign did not suit him. “They should catch up and apologize publicly,” Jilson said. “Thank you Canon for these three years, I will continue to use your camera as a tool, but I don’t want to be an ambassador for a brand that does not correspond to my principles. Paalam in salamat, magkaiba tayo ng daan na nilalakaran.

In a week where a piece of art depicting a standing fist goes viral, Jilson has put the art of “tumindig” into action.

And his decision was greeted with messages of admiration from friends, family and colleagues, ranging from “Proud of you” to “Respect”, from “Mabuhay ka” to the very current “Jilson lang sakalam”.

The 29-year-old photographer believes that stories should be told from a myriad of perspectives and shouldn’t be dominated by one point of view or one genre. “Men and women have different perspectives, shaped by their personal experiences and struggles,” he told ANCX. “Photography is obviously a visual art and a powerful medium for telling stories – it needs a diverse view of the world, especially photojournalism. Stories made by different genres convey different outcomes and points of view. There are topics that are best told by those who can really insist and understand their topics. ”

Jilson has worked as a professional photographer since the age of 19. His first missions appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was while working with the University of Santo Tomas student publication, The Varsitarian, that Jilson, using only a borrowed camera, learned to take photos. “I didn’t know how to use a digital SLR when I became a photographer in Varsi,” he recalls at ANCX. He was taken over by the school newspaper as an artist, but was ultimately tasked with taking pictures.

In his young career, Jilson shot for most of the local dailies and magazines, as well as for foreign titles. He covered the papal visit in 2015, the current administration’s war on drugs and the Taal explosion in 2020, three of his most unforgettable covers to date.

We’ve always been fans of Jilson’s photos here at ANCX. We love to watch it Instagram feed and loves having her photos on our site. He’s one of those guys who always delivers. He knows the pace and discipline of editorial work and listens to what good news or a lifestyle photo is without being told.

Although he is one of the youngest among active photographers, or maybe because of it, his photos show a true perspective on the city he captures. “Known for his street scenes that neither romanticize the Filipino condition nor denigrate it for the kind of poverty pornography that the international market expects from us,” we once wrote of his work, “Tiu has always lovingly portrays his city and the Filipino way of life. life.”

Indeed, it is never just the camera; it is the shooter behind.

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