I received the following inquiry from Lisa, who has a dilemma.
Dear Miss Mwac, I would love your advice on this. I keep being invited to weddings lately. By “friends” (ie: acquaintances) whom I have not seen or spoken to in years. Their messages always start “I would love for you to photograph my wedding” and end with “…and you are of course a welcome guest”. In other words…. ‘Well since you’ll be at my wedding anyway, thank you so much for shooting it for free!’. I never know how to politely answer these emails. Any suggestions?? I’m more than happy to shoot their wedding, but I ain’t giving it away, and I ain’t gonna be sipping cocktails like a ‘guest’. I’ll be working, while the real guests are enjoying themselves. I just never know how to wird a response, once it’s clear that they meant “we’d love for you to shoot our wedding…… as a favour”. Thank you Missy Mwac!! (and anyone else who has anything to say / suggest)
Dear Lisa, here…take my hand and let me guide you through the murky waters of PEOPLE WHO WANT FREE PICTURES. It can all be resolved with an email or phone call during which the following is shared:
“Dear <fill in friends name here>
Congratulations! Wow, this is exciting and I have no doubt your wedding will be beautiful! I’m so looking forward to it!
(Okay, you might very well have your doubts that this will be a beautiful wedding, but you can’t share that, ever. Not even if it’s a tailgate wedding, the cake is a Twinkie tower and the bride is in overalls with a patch over her right butt cheek that reads “Git ‘er done”)
You mentioned the wedding is on <fill in date> and after checking my schedule, I see I have a couple inquiries for that date already. Yikes!
(I say, “Yikes” a lot. Feel free to fill in with the word of your choice. “Zoinks!” is kind of nice, too. If your bio says you love pink lipstick, feel free to use the word ‘Oopsies!” Now, you might or might not have inquiries, but this lets them know that you will be reserving the day for THEM when you could be photographing someone else. People who assume you will shoot at no charge because you had lunch once together 3 years ago need a little prompting.)
If you’d like, <fill in friend name’s here> I’d be more than happy to send you information regarding my wedding photography collections/packages and if it works with your budget, we can set up a time to sit and talk details!’”
At this point, the bride will react in one of two ways:
“OMG. I went shopping with you once in 2009. I thought we were best friends. I can’t believe you would actually charge me! I mean, I’m already paying all the other vendors and now you expect me to pay you, too? I’m going to Craigslist.”
“Sounds great! I look forward to receiving it!”
Now, they might not use you, especially if, in their minds, they still THINK they should be getting an entire wedding coverage for the price of a reception dinner and a slice of cake, but at least, they know THIS wedding photographer values what she does enough to charge for it.
About The Author
Missy Mwac is a photographer/eater of bacon/drinker of vodka and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can follow her social media links here: Facebook, Tumblr. This article was also published here and shared with permission.