Canon welcomes largest ever intake of new Ambassadors

The Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme is growing, with more than 50 new international photographers and videographers joining the 12-year-old initiative.
Wildlife photographer Lucia Griggi crouches down in the snow to photograph penguins.

Travel and wildlife photographer Lucia Griggi, former winner of the National Geographic Traveller Award, is one of the new Canon Ambassadors for 2020. © Lucia Griggi

An exciting group of international photographers and filmmakers joins the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme for 2020, the biggest expansion in the initiative's 12-year history. More than 50 new professionals have been introduced, taking the total number of Canon Ambassadors to over 100.

The Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme brings together leading photographers and videographers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). They are chosen from a wide range of genres including news, documentary, wildlife, weddings, portraits, sports and more. Ambassadors represent Canon by giving talks and workshops, use Canon kit to shoot inspirational projects, and give regular feedback on products, based on first-hand experience.

"The Ambassador Programme is our opportunity to work with who we perceive to be the best in the photo, video and print industry across the region," says Susie Donaldson, ITCG European Marketing Director for Canon EMEA.

"It's important that our Ambassadors are inspirational and influential as much as they are relevant and relatable to people coming into the industry, whether professionals or enthusiasts."

The number of Ambassadors is increasing, Susie explains, partly to ensure all major genres are represented. "Genres such as wildlife, landscape and wedding are all important to us, and we wanted to cover the gaps we had previously. Equally, we wanted to ensure the programme spans photographers of all backgrounds, including age, gender and race."

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Canon Ambassador selection process

The new Ambassadors were carefully chosen via a thorough selection process. Canon regional offices nominated more than 450 photographers who each submitted an application that included a selection of their work. A team of expert judges for each major genre, including photo editors, curators and established photographers, then assessed the nominees' work. An estimated 20,000 images were viewed as part of this process. Finally, after the panel made its recommendations, a collective decision was reached on whether a particular photographer was chosen to join the programme.

Each photographer was evaluated on a range of criteria, including their personal voice, visual communication skills and technical ability, but the deciding factor was the overall quality of their work. Distinguished photo editor Francis Kohn, who assessed candidates in the photojournalism genre, said: "The great value of the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme is its diversity: the different personalities, different approaches to photography, and different cultural backgrounds.

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"There are of course common factors: expertise, enthusiasm, commitment, involvement, creativity, singularity, capacity to communicate, and a good dose of charisma. Talent is very important, but a good Ambassador has above all the desire and ability to impart their knowledge, especially to the youth."

For more about how Canon Ambassadors are chosen, and tips for becoming a Canon Ambassador, visit our How the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme works page.

A boy appears to be suspended in the air as he jumps from a pier into the sea.

Another new Ambassador is Russian documentary photographer Ksenia Kuleshova. This image taken in Sukhum, a city on the Black Sea Coast, shows a boy jumping into the water from a high metal construction at the end of a pier. © Ksenia Kuleshova

New Canon Ambassadors 2020

The contingent of new female Ambassadors includes Norwegian fashion photographer Julie Pike and German/Russian documentary photographer Nanna Heitmann, winner of the Ian Parry Scholarship in 2019. British-Egyptian photographer Laura El-Tantawy and Russian photographer Ksenia Kuleshova, both of whom have been recognised by the 2020 W. Eugene Smith Fund, also join the programme.

African representation on the programme is bolstered by the arrival of photographers including Yagazie Emezi from Nigeria, who was the first black African woman to photograph for National Geographic magazine, and Clement Kiragu, whose photography focuses on the spectacular wildlife and beautiful landscapes of his home country of Kenya.

The number of young photographers has also grown significantly. They include Belgian nature photographer Michel d'Oultremont, twice winner of the Rising Star award in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and UK sports photographer and recent photography graduate Molly Darlington.

"Nurturing new talent and working with young people is a big part of Canon's sustainability goals," says Susie. "The fact that we've increased the number of Ambassadors aged under 30 from two to 17 is fantastic."

Photojournalist Brent Stirton, who has been a Canon Ambassador since 2008, speaks highly of the programme and praises the work Canon is doing with younger photographers. "[Being an Ambassador] has been a privilege from day one. Not only have I had great gear to work with, I've had back-up that really mattered. Canon even sent new cameras to the Namibian/Angolan border for me after I was robbed of my gear – I had them within 24 hours.

"The best thing Canon's doing now is offering hundreds of students from all over the world workshops I could only have dreamt of when I was their age. These workshops are with photographers and editors of the highest quality. It's one thing to talk about investing in young photographers, it's another to put your money where your mouth is."

A diverse array of genres are represented among the Canon Ambassadors, with other new Ambassadors including German conservation photographer Robert Marc Lehmann, the National Geographic Photographer of the Year 2015, and Irish photojournalist Finbarr O'Reilly, winner of World Press Photo awards in 2006 and 2019 and a Canon user for over 15 years. Finbarr says: "I'm honoured to join the Canon Ambassador programme at a time when photojournalism is grappling with a number of challenges.

"I've recently been working with Canon on collaborative projects, including this year's Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition, to showcase the work of African photographers and to promote greater diversity and broader representation across the industry. I look forward to continuing this kind of collaborative and educational work as a Canon Ambassador."

Another new Ambassador, Lucia Griggi, is an expedition, wildlife and travel photographer. "Being accepted onto the Canon Ambassador Programme has given me an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and contentment," she says.

"There are so many talented photographers out there and I feel very privileged to have been chosen. I look forward to expressing my creative vision with the support of the world's leading camera brand." 

To find out more about all of the Canon Ambassadors, visit our Canon Ambassadors web page.

David Clark

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