I was glad to hear that Burberry used Brooklyn Beckham to shoot their new stills campaign. I haven't seen the pictures - I'm sure they're fine - and I haven't read much analysis of the story, apart from hearing through the grapevine around my studio that it happened.
Was I surprised? Yes, but overall, I see it as a positive thing. It allows us, as photographers, to take a moment to reflect on our role in an industry where a 16 year old can be shown where the button is, and asked, in his own time, to press it. (Because let's not pretend he did anything more than that).
I think Mario Testino normally does that for Burberry. Granted, when he does it, there's usually a roadshow, accompanied by a schedule, an approvals process, a budget, etc etc etc. But when it comes to pressing the actual button, he does it completely differ...actually, no, he does it in just the same way as Brooklyn Beckham did.
"CLIENTS SHOOT CAMPAIGNS FOR ONE REASON...SALES"
This time, perhaps, the crew may have been more disparate, a group of freelancers brought together by a production company with maybe somebody ghosting at BB's shoulder, I expect. But the job got done, and that's what matters. (I'm briefly reminded of the time I was once asked to ghost for Rod Stewart's wife to shoot a campaign with/for/as her. I politely declined).
So why am I glad? Because Burberry pulling this stunt is a clear reminder of the commercial realities of what I do. This shows us all that our clients shoot campaigns for one reason: to create sales. And any tool available to them to elevate those sales will be used.
But the really important lesson for photographers is in understanding why they used (and I'm employing the word 'use' deliberately here) Brooklyn and not you.
To begin to understand this, let's ignore his famous parentage. Lots of famous people have kids and they don't shoot Burberry campaigns. The simple fact is that Brooklyn Beckham is, by default, a brand. He has an ocean of social media followers (albeit their average age is 12), and he has a connection inside the brand (his younger brother, Romeo, jumped on a trampoline in that absurdly repetitive Christmas campaign).
Do you have a huge social media following? Have you explored developing a connection into Burberry? Do you think like a brand?
Also, I expect Brooklyn probably expressed an interest in photography, and in the creative process. Maybe he showed someone at Burberry that he was positively engaged in the shoot process, the clothes, whatever.
"A LESSON FOR US ALL..."
Think about those things that the Brooklyn Beckham in my little story did: brand (accident), lots of followers, connected with the client, expressed an interest.
Do you, as a photographer, do those things enough? All of my fashion campaigns happened because I built a brand and expressed an interest with working with the client. Clients I had no connection to. That's three campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Elie Saab, and others. All of these jobs below came about because I marketed myself to the potential client, built a rapport and expressed an interest in working with them.
The truth is, anyone can press a button. But not everyone can look at what assets they have around them and build a strategy to use those assets positively and constructively.
We shouldn't focus on who did or didn't get a Burberry job that most of us (including me) didn't have a hope of being considered for. We should look at how the person who got it put himself there. 'Famous parents'? No, I think it's much too easy to say that. For me, he got it because he will have taken things in his stride, built a relationship and genuinely expressed an interest.
The industry doesn't owe us a living. Clients shoot advertising campaigns to create sales and they'll work with whoever they feel will maximise those sales. Pressing the button? A 16 year old can do that. We need to show that we bring more to the sales table. And if we don't, then Brooklyn Beckham deserves that campaign.