I shot these photos for a campaign for Winc, a subscription based wine company. To give you a bit of background about how collaborations work, there is always a campaign brief with visual inspiration and requirements of do's and don'ts for the post and caption. Some brands are very specific with what they want, with strict requirements of how the photo should look or a word for word caption (which are usually the types of collaborations I turn down). Other brands are more lenient and give the content creator more creative freedom.
Shooting for a campaign is fun but can also be a bit nerve wracking because you usually have to submit your post for approval before it goes live on your social channels, so there's always a chance your work could be rejected. I always reread the campaign brief and requirements before I go out and shoot to make sure I'm getting what the brand is asking for. There are a lot of BYOB restaurants in Hoboken where I live, so I thought one of them would be a great backdrop for this campaign, to get a vintage, Sophia Loren inspired, Italian vibe. I was happy with the photos and video I created, but then I decided to take a look at the tagged photos on Winc's Instagram to see what other people were posting.
Almost every influencer's post I saw looked very similar, either them posing in their kitchen or under their Christmas tree with the box of wines they received from Winc. Suddenly, I started worrying if the brand would accept the content I submitted. I only featured one bottle of wine from the box, not all four. They never said all four bottles had to be in the photo, but that's what everyone else did. The brand also asked me to submit a video to post on my story. My video was more inspirational to set the mood, rather than informative, such as an unboxing video or me talking to the camera about Winc. Ultimately, the brand approved everything I submitted, but it got me thinking...
Are influencers even influential anymore?
The term influencer was coined because that's what influencers were, influential. They gained a following because there was something about them people liked, whether that was their style, personality, photography, etc. Now, being an influencer has become a career choice and people are quitting their full time jobs to peruse being an influencer. Being a "microinfluencer" myself, I know how much work goes into content creation, so I 100% respect it as a career. However, like any career, I don't think it's just something you can decide to be. It's something that takes practice, natural ability and a point of view. But now it feels like people who set out to become an influencer are taking a cookie cutter approach and thinking if they do x,y,z, they will in fact be an influencer.
Social media critics often say the influencer bubble is going to burst. While I agree that Instagram will not always reign as king, I don't think influencers are going anywhere anytime soon. Nowadays, people are watching more Netflix than they are cable, or spending more time watching YouTube tutorials than they are reading magazines. Traditional forms of advertising like TV commercials and print ads are dying out, so it makes sense businesses and brands are turning to social media to advertise. As a consumer, I've discovered brands or bought a product after seeing it on Instagram, which proves influencer marketing works. Sponsored posts don't necessarily have to be the most creative or entertaining to be effective (how many times have you seen a stupid commercial on TV, yet the message of the commercial sticks with you). However, I think influencers should strive to truly influence and inspire their audience, rather than just following the status quo. After all, you'll never influence the world by trying to be just like it.
Beret: JJ Hat Center; Top: J.Crew: Scarf: Fred & Lulu; Earrings: Vintage
Location: Johnny Pepperoni's (Hoboken, NJ)