Youtube teachers

There is a lot of great information out there. On the video sharing site "YouTube" there are tons of great videos on photography and related technologies. Some very talented people are very generous in sharing their knowledge and I take every opportunity to learn from some of the best.

But one thing that bothers me is people who are changing professions, from photographers to YouTube content creators and/or photography instructors, becoming gear salesmen on the side. Along with the shift are some practices that bother me a bit. Claims of "I paid for this with my own money", which are 100% true, but leaves out the part about getting back channel compensation or deep discounts to publicly "switch" brands. 

What is back channel compensation? Deals for future paid engagements as speakers or instructors, exposure on the company website as one of their celebrity endorsers and the like. There is no doubt there is some "quid pro quo" involved in many of these "defections". Often the photographer/content creator is the one taking the lead. They have a reasonable YouTube following and then make the "Why I switched to Brand X" video. A number of Sony endorsers come easily to mind.

It seems to be pretty common for things like lighting and other accessories. One "celebrity photographer" can simultaneously endorse cameras, lights, modifiers and tripods from different companies. When that happens you see a shift of focus from "how a tripod works" to "why this tripod is the best one on the market." 

Is this wrong? Sometimes. Often when someone endorses something it is because they believe the gear is the best choice for them. Any compensation that comes along afterwards is just icing on the cake. But it can reduce the objectivity of the teacher. The result is that other options and considerations may not get brought up or explained. It is at best, a fine line to walk. If the teacher is including the fringe benefits, then at the least they are being honest.

What can you do? Take everything with a grain of salt, and don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. A good teacher may be endorsing a brand, but that does not mean you have to follow their every move. Learn what you can, do your own research and in the end make decisions based on what is right for you, not someone else.

Just my opinion, but I hope it helps.