Everything presented on this website, my YouTube channel and social media is my personal opinion, based on my own experience and preferences. While I do my best to be impartial, we all carry our own biases, and the most we can hope for is to acknowledge them, and try to not let them blind us from the bigger picture.
Over the past 4 years the YouTube Channel, social media and mattgranger.com have all grown enormously. When I first opened the channel in January 2011, I did not plan on growing this into a business. It all started when I went to buy a new bag and I was thrilled to find a video review on YouTube - I didn't realise this existed! So when I got my bag, I decided to do my own video.
The best decision I made when starting was just to be myself. I have never been an actor or taken on a persona in my video or social media - thankfully, as I would be terrible at maintaining it now that it is so time consuming! My onscreen presentation and methods of testing equipment has certainly improved, so has my knowledge of the equipment, but at the end of the day I am still just one guy sharing my opinion with whoever is interested.
The channel and website originally grew organically. I enjoyed making the videos, and I used the feedback I got to help refine the kind of videos I made. Initially I released videos sporadically, then that grew into almost every day! I have now found a balancing point of 2 videos per week, with the occasional weekend bonus video such as a travel VLOG or competition judging.
With the growth in viewers, of course comes more criticism, trolls and 'generally angry internet people'. Criticism I am fine with - in fact I usually welcome it. Everyone has different opinions and experiences, so it is fine for someone to disagree with me on the videos etc. I don't censor or delete this kind of feedback. Trolls - I try to avoid engaging, but an 'effective' troll can derail an entire conversation. So if it is a repeat offender, who only swings by to start fights and leaves, I usually try to contact them directly. If they won't speak one on one, and only have negativity to contribute - then I do reserve the right to block them from the page. This also applies to people who are just flat out rude and nasty to other commenters for no reason.
I have taken great effort to try to make these pages a positive and fun space for people to interact and learn. I have not tried to build myself up by tearing others down and I try not to sensationalise things for cheap views. Things like 'this is the worst camera ever made, a total piece of garbage that has no value to anyone' may be funny or generate interest - but I think it's dumb. If I don't like something, or it doesn't suit the way I shoot, I will say so, but will acknowledge who it is aimed at and who might find it useful - even if most don't.
Sponsors, partners, affiliates & advertising.
The time and real costs of making all of this content does add up. Primarily I offset that with my video download series, and I have almost entirely avoided advertising on the website, despite constant offers.
I do have relationships and affiliation with brands and shops, including Tamron, Rode Mics, Macphun, Manfrotto and Adorama. I also make (minor) regular income I make is from affiliate links I share on videos with Adorama, Macphun, BH Photo and Amazon - I share my honest thoughts about the products, provide a link and if you use it I get a few cents/dollars from the sale. It doesn't cost you any more and I really appreciate it.
I have taken sponsors for specific video series in the past, and I always make it clear that it is sponsored content if any $$ have changed hands - such as Educating Tina Season 2 and Field Tested. I also occasionally speak and run workshops on specific equipment for the manufacturer, and that is done on a case by case basis. 95% of the time, partnerships occur when I am using and loving a product and I approach them - not the other way around. My huge photo competition for example is sponsored by Macphun who make Luminar - software I have used for over a year now.
I will never endorse a product I don't genuinely use and love. Of course I am biased, we all are. I am a gearhead and I enjoy sharing the gear that I use and love. Please take any review as my personal opinion as a portrait photographer and teacher - what suits me may not necessarily work for you.
The majority of gear I use in my daily work, and much I present on YouTube, I have purchased outright. Of course expensive gear, or things that I have no use for personally like big lenses, and every new DSLR that hits the market, are generally on short term media loan from the manufacturer or their PR company. I also sometimes get access to pre-production and pre-release gear for testing and feedback, as well as long term loans.
Everything I present is my own opinion and I never give editorial review to the company. I will not enter into any agreement with a company that is not willing for me to speak my mind freely about their product, and about the other products in the market, and above all else, I will never give away editorial control of my content.
Of course there is a fine line to walk here. Being able to speak your mind and be honest, without burning bridges can seem like conflict. Saying what companies want to hear in return for favours is also a trap. I am confident I am on the right side of this line. I only take on very selective sponsorship, and I am always careful to ensure I maintain my own voice and opinion. It also helps that my broad approach to reviewing is to point out the good and the bad, and who the product is likely to suit - and not suit, rather than blanket statements.
Please note that I am pretty much a 1 man band. I have a casual assistant who helps me out with all sorts of things about 1 day a week - but the rest I do solo. Sometimes I am late, sometimes I make errors, and always I am limited by my personal biases and preferences. I am doing my best, please understand if I take a long time to get back to you. I really try to be friendly and responsive, but sometimes my rushed replies may come off as curt.
Finally, I am really proud of this community and the way everyone interacts and shares. I think we are generally far more open minded and supportive than many forums I have seen. Thank you all for that and please continue to share your passion and insights in the way you would face to face.