I’m not a cash cow ! 7

This week after more than two months confined, I went 3 days in a row on the streets of Saint-Denis. Don’t get too excited, it was just before going to pick up the kids from school. In the end, quite a bit of time spent on the streets, but it was nice to get back in touch with the playground. Even if I told you that I had taken advantage of the confinement to recharge my batteries a little photographically, I still admit to being impatient to find myself in the streets of Saint-Denis.



My first observation is that nothing has changed … The stores were open, the small Street food vendors are also there. There is just the queue in front of the post office. For the rest it is as before. Besides, there are more people without masks than with. The virus is fairly well contained with us with very few daily cases (we oscillate between nothing and 1 or 2 cases per day). But I think we must remain vigilant. We see young people hanging out together without masks. Whole families walk around without masks too …



So I made my first post lockdown street photos this week. I was happy with these short moments spent in Saint-Denis. I still use my Ricoh GR. Even if I have the last iteration of this camera (the GR3), I still don’t have a crazy desire to go out with it. Why use the GR3 when the GR suits me perfectly ? More Mega Pixels ? Better optics ? Yes, but I am very comfortable with the GR and I don’t want to waste my time taming a new camera … For the moment it is sleeping peacefully in its box. His turn will come … Note I will have to test it because it returned back from Pentax after-sales service. Little reminder: I had returned it shortly because it tended to overheat abnormally at the level of the battery and the LCD screen. Pentax changed the optical unit. We’ll see if it still overheats. Personally, given the feedback I had on this new camera, I think it is more of a design problem. We’ll see when I test it … someday.



A week ago, I received a rather enigmatic email from Ricoh Imaging Europe. Etienne.L who works for Pentax/Ricoh contacted me so that we could tfalk about my photos and future projects. I was quite surprised and wondered if it was spam bullshit. I who had already castigated their attitude in a blog, I thought I was already blacklisted with them … I replied that we could chat by email or by phone. I admit that I was imagining things for myself! Do you believe , Ricoh/Pentax who contacted me to talk about my work and projects ! Yes, right on target ! You have in front of you [wpdiscuz-feedback id=”3kbeecap0x” question=”Do you believe it ???” opened=”1″]the new Ricoh GR ambassador !!!![/wpdiscuz-feedback]



No I’m kidding … Ricoh was just looking for a Street Photographer using GR based in the south of France to make a video to promote their new YouTube channel. Between us, I’m quite happy that they found me because it proves that my photos and blogs on Aix-en-Provence are well referenced on Google. Unfortunately when Etienne.L knew that I no longer lived in mainland France but on Reunion Island, he made me understand that the current health situation did not allow me to go to Reunion for the video (. ..). Yep … I think they wanted street photos from the south of France to promote the Ricoh GR on their YouTube channel. He asked me if he could still share my photos on the Ricoh/Pentax site. I asked what I had to gain from it ? If it was just “visibility” on their site, it didn’t interest me … I would be more open for collaboration or possible projects. Since then it’s radio silence and I don’t think he will get back to me anytime soon.



Once again, Ricoh/Pentax takes us for cash cows. This was already the case during their competition in collaboration with FishEye in October 2018. Use photos of enthusiasts without any consideration to promote the GR line. Christophe Mousset had written a interesting blog at the time on this simulacrum of competition and yet it was part of the prize list ! It’s a bit easy to say “Here, look at the great photos that the GR is capable of making!”. No Mr Ricoh. It doesn’t work like that. The GR is a great camera, but it is not the camera that takes the photos. It’s us photographers who use it. I use the GR because this camera is perfect for the use I make of it, but I can do the same with a Fuji (I also own an XE2), a Sony or even a Leica. My photos are what they are because it is my vision of the world and my way of documenting what is happening on the street.



So NO, I refuse that my work serve as free publicity for you Mr Ricoh. If you think that my work is of any interest for your brand and highlights the GR line, you must offer something other than just visibility on your website because even if I use a camera that you designed, I paid for it with real money. I’m not asking you for money, I don’t care about that. Street Photography is a way of living for me. I’m not ready to cash it out. I remain convinced that many photographers would be ready to accept to offer their work without consideration to be on the site of Ricoh/Pentax. A few years ago I would have accepted so much I was looking for recognition. Not anymore … So Etienne.L, I wish you good luck finding your Street Photographer based in the south of France who uses the Ricoh GR. I can’t even whisper a name in your ear, I don’t know one !



All the photographs were made with the Ricoh GR in the streets of Saint-Denis.

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7 thoughts on “I’m not a cash cow !

  • John Harper

    I read an article recently. A professional photographer was invited to a launch of a new range of fitness clothing. He had done a lot of work in this sector for many years. When he arrived there were mostly fitness ‘influencers’ all taking shots of the gear and of course selfies for their feeds. He took some photos and asked about submission and how he would be paid. Oh no they said, you won’t be paid, just tag us on social media and we might select a shot, how many followers do you have? He walked out. He had a few hundred, nothing compared to the millions of followers the ‘influencers’ had, he couldn’t compete and they of course were doing it for free. The business was getting reasonable images and huge amounts of publicity at no cost. I write this because there’s no hope of getting paid for work by any business. Especially true of camera manufacturers. They have millions of free images uploaded every day that they can use to illustrate how ‘good’ the camera is. We know the camera is irrelevant providing it suits us and our style. The photographer makes the shot, not the camera.
    I can see why they would pick you Jeff, what camera manufacturer wouldn’t choose your work, it’s outstanding. I doubt you’ll get paid, I hope you do. Perhaps a free camera is the most to hope for.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Hello John,

      I copy here the translation of the answer of Etienne.L

      Good evening Jeff,
      I had not had time to answer you.
      I sent your contact to my colleague in charge of the market and partnerships with French photographers, directly after your last exchange which dates from May 26 …
      Yes, indeed, I need a street-photographer living in the South of France for a video project. You no longer live in the region, you no longer match the profile, it happens, you should not take it personally.
      You would have been paid for this mission (and despite what your hints in the article, I consider it normal to pay the photographers for their work) and that could have offered you other possibilities to collaborate with us. But you chose to write your article, anyway.
      The best of wishes for the future.

      My wife told to me that I should slow down things and not to write instinctively. Put in other words “think twice before you speak”. Might be true, but I’m straightforward … Can’t change it
      Let’s go back to this episode. It would have been easy and rewarding to have an ephemeral visibility being on Pentax/Ricoh Website, but I don’t care much about that. I’m no longer on Social Media for a reason. I don’t care about their Social Media Circus. I have absolutely nothing to win by letting them use my pictures. I think that it should be a win-win thing. And again, I’m not talking about money or gear. I already have a GR3 … Anyway what were they going to offer ? Money Etienne.L said ? As I wrote, My mind was thinking of fantasy. What if they want me as an ambassador ? frankly, someone who wants to talk about your photography and projects … It could be real ! But let’s go down to the ground. What are ambassadors of a brand ? Not talking only of Ricoh, but generally speaking. Are they representative of the brand ? I don’t think so. An ambassador is someone who uses the gear of the brand but over everything is someone who has thousands of thousands of followers, talks a lot in good words of the gear and has a lot of visibility on Social Media. This is the win-win thing. Make the publicity of the GR for thousands of people.
      Let be honest. I use a GRD4 which is 9 years old. I also use a GR which is 7 years old… I have a GR3 and don’t even use it. I have no facebook nor instagram account. Why would Ricoh work with me on some kind of projects ? They want to sell cameras and I’m useless to them. But when someone email you and want to talk about your work and about projects, you can’t help fantasying no matter the facts. That was the case. But case closed now.
      What I find funny is the fact that Etienne.L claim that it’s too bad that I reacted like that (writing this Blog) cos if I hadn’t they could have work with me … I don’t fucking believe it. He never talked about my work. He was just interesting in having the opportunity to share my photos for the brand.
      I don’t have any regrets at all as I know that it was a dead end.

      • John Harper

        I suggest that if an ‘ambassador’ utters one bad word against the manufacturer then they’ll be dropped like a stone. Gwen might have a point, I can see you being an ambassador for four or five hours…absolute max 😉
        Anyway, no point if you’re not on social media. What I’d say to our friend from Pentax/Ricoh is that talk is cheap. You can buy my Aix and South of France images to use in your promotional stuff, they’re still relevant. What difference that you don’t live there anymore. Next they could commission you to document Reunion and pay for that. A video for YouTube, a book and exhibition. As they say, put your money where your mouth is Etienne….
        Disclaimer: If anyone is reading this from Leica please disregard everything I said. I don’t know this Jeff guy and am not associated with his views. I’ll do it for free, I want to be an Leica Ambassador, I can confirm that I’m a ‘like’ whore…!

        • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

          Ah ah. Blacklisted from Leica! I forgot to tell you that from your latest blog, we can see why people are paying for your services for the family photos. Pretty sure that some of the pictures you made might hit the LFI gallery. Really impressive work…
          Why would a brand pay for pictures? You were so true when you said that thousands of photos made with the GR are made daily. So what’s the point of paying for them as some people would be ready and pleased to share them. But it’s like everything. Free stuff doesn’t mean quality. If you want something good, you gotta pay the price…

          • John Harper

            Funny thing is I’m seeing lots of Ricoh GR adverts on my Instagram feed, I’ve never seen them before. Perhaps your website is linked now you’ve got their attention 😂😂
            What I will say is that for a while I considered a GR, purely based on what I’d seen of your work over the years…I had to remind myself that it would make no difference to my level or quality of Street Photography whatsoever, the camera really is irrelevant.
            Thanks for the compliment Jeff, I need some work.

          • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

            I guess that the camera is relevant for the way you shoot with it. I won’t shoot the same with a Leica Q and a Ricoh GR. That’s all. For the rest as you said, if you’re good, any camera will do the job. Same goes if you suck 😉