How the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme works

What is the Canon Ambassador Programme? Who are the Ambassadors, what is their role and how can you become a Canon Ambassador? We answer these questions and more, while giving further insight into Canon's innovative and inspirational programme.
A collared aracari mid-flight against a blurred green background. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Canon Ambassador Jan Stria.

Canon Ambassadors share Canon's passion for storytelling. Jan Stria, a wildlife and nature photographer based in the Czech Republic, was added to the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme in 2023. This striking image shows the collared aracari, a bird native to Mexico and South America. The Canon EOS R5's Eye Detection AF, which can track the eyes of birds in flight, enabled Jan to capture this pin-sharp image. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens and a Canon Extender RF 1.4x at 454mm, 1/800 sec, f/8 and ISO 6400. © Jan Stria – Canon Ambassador

Launched in 2008, the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme is a pioneering initiative that brings together some of the world's best photographers and videographers from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to collaborate with Canon and share its passion for visual storytelling.

Bold and inspirational, the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme represents and supports current and future generations of photographers and filmmakers. In 2023, a raft of new Ambassadors joins the ranks of specially selected image makers who spearhead change.

"The Ambassadors are an amazing group of people who can talk about the industry, our products and their genre of photography from a unique perspective," says Susie Donaldson, ITCG European Marketing Director for Canon Europe. "That might be through workshops or education, or through the amazing images and videos they create which inspire our customers to do more and challenge themselves."

Addressing challenges and opportunities

The close connections forged between Canon and the photographic community are built on mutual respect and an appreciation of the challenges facing today's professionals. Photography editor, curator and panellist for the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme, Monica Allende, believes stills photographers are increasingly expected to diversify their output and create a broad range of content. "We have documentarians taking photographs, video and creating soundscapes. They're investigating every aspect of a scene and looking at their subject from multiple perspectives, and these different narratives are then presented as multi-sensorial, documentary experiences."

But no matter what content they are producing, being able to tell a story that resonates is of critical importance. "I'm passionate about stories," says Monica. "In the way that I have always worked and how I work now when I'm curating, I look for stories. For me, the medium is all part of the language you use to enhance your story. But I expect the stories to be profound and well thought out."

It is this mixture of challenge and opportunity, caused by the rapid evolution of technology and society, that the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme seeks to address.

Water sports athlete Nikolas Plytas water skis through a rocky inlet, in a photo taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Canon Ambassador Alex Grymanis.

This striking shot shows pro water sports athlete Nikolas Plytas water skiing near Sarakiniko Beach on Milos Island, Greece. It was taken by Greek action sports photographer Alex Grymanis who joined the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme in 2023. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 70mm, 1/5000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 400. © Alex Grymanis – Canon Ambassador

Who are the Ambassadors?

The current list of Canon EMEA Ambassadors can be found on the Ambassador Programme Hub, with links to profiles of the photographers and filmmakers showcasing their work.

Since the programme was started, it has always comprised the world's leading photographers and filmmakers, as well as respected industry experts, and that isn't changing. They share their passion and technical know-how with fellow professionals, as well as the ranks of enthusiastic amateurs who want to develop their skills. You'll find these luminaries at various Canon workshops, seminars and industry events throughout the year, across EMEA. The Ambassadors also advise Canon on product development, pre-testing new cameras and lenses so that the equipment meets the needs of all Canon's customers.

How do I become a Canon Ambassador?

Canon receives a lot of enquiries from people asking how to become an Ambassador, with many wanting to know more about the selection process. Photographers and filmmakers around the EMEA region are proposed by their local Canon office (usually the Canon office in the country they live in), and then reviewed by an independent admissions panel.

"The regional offices nominate a shortlist to the central Canon EMEA team," Susie explains. "The offices may already have been through rounds of discussions about who we might want to bring in. We work closely with the regional offices so they can provide us with as much information as they can in terms of our selection criteria.

The next stage relies on the selection panel, which consists of independent experts representing a variety of styles and genres, analysing each shortlisted portfolio using a fixed set of criteria.

A frank conversation follows, and panel members then put forward a list of candidates they believe are eligible. "It's a very long and thorough process," says Susie. "We respect the opinions of the panel because they're able to cast their eyes over things we wouldn't see. They know how active the nominee is in the industry, how their work is perceived and also if they've got upcoming exhibitions and awards."

In terms of who is chosen, "There's no one single factor we're looking for – there's a blended approach looking at the photographer's work, the awards they've received, how active they are, their stories and presentation skills and more," says Susie.

"We also look at what they can bring in practical terms, such as taking part in trade shows, events and workshops. They also create content which helps us to launch our most important products. This is done either through interviews because they've had a chance to get their hands on the products, or because they've got a story that can highlight the capabilities of a product. We saw great examples of that with the Canon EOS R3 launch, where Ambassadors were able to talk about their experiences in practical terms – how they tested the camera, how it felt, how it gave them a different angle on their story.

"My advice to those wanting to be part of the Ambassador Programme is don't sit and wait," she continues. "Make sure we know who you are, that we see your work, that you've built a profile for yourself and thought about what your Ambassador submission would be."

In a desert landscape, a group of people draw water from a well in Naga, Sudan, aided by donkeys. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 by Canon Ambassador Camilla Ferrari.

Camilla Ferrari, who was added to the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme in 2023, combines personal projects with editorial assignments. This image was taken in the ruined ancient city of Naga, Sudan, in 2023. It shows a group of people in the desert landscape drawing water, aided by donkeys, from one of the few wells in the area. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 24mm, 1/1000 sec, f/3.5 and ISO 100. © Camilla Ferrari – Canon Ambassador

Tips for being chosen as a Canon Ambassador

Potential Canon Ambassadors need to embody a wide range of qualities, skills and attributes. We asked 2023 panellist Fiona Shields, who is also Head of Photography at The Guardian newspaper in the UK, what she and the other panellists were looking for in potential Ambassadors when making their selections.

"We did look for quality of work, for sure," says Fiona. "However, Ambassadors have to do more than take amazing pictures and make great work themselves; they need to be relatable, and be able to communicate to another generation.

"We were looking for people who we thought could connect to different groups. That was really important. We also selected people with different aesthetics. So it was about considering how they would engage with people across society."

It was also important for potential Ambassadors to be innovative in their work and to be taking photography in new directions. "If they're going to influence a new generation of photographers, it's really important that Ambassadors are seen as being on the progressive arc," explains Fiona. "They have to be able to adapt and use new technology, because we're constantly looking at different ways of presenting work, especially in digital formats."

All those qualities are embodied by the photographers and videographers whom the panellists have ultimately selected as Canon Ambassadors. Fiona believes the Canon Ambassador programme continues to play an important role in today's photography and film landscape.

"I definitely think we're creating these kind of 'pillars' within the photographic community that people can look up to and be inspired by," she says. "Choosing Ambassadors who are innovative and push the boundaries of what can be done, or what they want to do, is critical."

The outline of an Alpine ibex lit by the sun's rays, taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II by Canon Ambassador Christine Sonvilla.

Austrian photographer and filmmaker Christine Sonvilla, who specialises in nature conservation and wildlife work, also joined the Canon EMEA Ambassador Programme in 2023 along with her partner Marc Graf. This image shows an Alpine ibex magically lit by the sun's rays high in the Austrian Alps. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM lens at 428mm, 1/4000 sec, f/7.1 and ISO 800. © Christine Sonvilla – Canon Ambassador

Admissions panel

  • Monica Allende: Consultant, educator and Artistic Director of Landskrona Foto Festival in Sweden. 
  • Lucy Conticello: Director of Photography at M, Le Monde's newly-redesigned weekend magazine. 
  • Vincent Jolly: Senior Reporter at Le Figaro Magazine and Digital Chief Editor at Visa pour l'Image International Festival of Photojournalism, Perpignan, France. 
  • Susan Lippe-Bernard: Editor-in-Chief of Bride & Groom magazine and Editor-in-Chief of wedding fashion industry trade magazine Sposa Facts. 
  • Gloria Crespo MacLennan: Photo Editor and cultural journalist at Spanish newspaper El País and ARTS Magazine contributor. 
  • Naima Mancini: Journalist at Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport and Photo Editor at SportWeek and G. 
  • Nestan Nijaradze: Artistic director and co-founder of the Tbilisi Photo Festival and 2022 World Press Photo Contest jury member. 
  • Paul Ninson: Founder and CEO of the Dikan Center and Curator at the Dikan Gallery in Accra, Ghana.
  • Sigrid Nygaard: Photo Editor at Danish national newspaper Dagbladet Information, and has served as a jury member for several major national awards. 
  • Sara Ocón: Photo Editor with 20 years' experience on Spanish magazines and websites, including Vanity Fair, Vogue and Vogue Novias. 
  • Fiona Shields: Head of Photography at UK newspaper The Guardian and jury member for many photojournalism awards. 
  • Andreas Trampe: Senior Photo Editor at Stern magazine and co-founder of the Hamburg Portfolio Review. 
  • Leon Yearwood: Picture Editor at Sky Sports and jury member at the World Sports Photography Awards and the British Photography Awards.

Mark Alexander and David Clark
Canon Professional Services


Canon Professional Services

Members get access to CPS Priority Support, both locally and at major events; a priority Fast Track repair service; and — depending on your level of membership — free back-up equipment loans plus return shipping and discounts on maintenance. They can also enjoy exclusive members’ offers.