Photographer Asked to Shoot 10-Hour Wedding for Free in Exchange for Exposure to Couple’s 300 Guests

Photographer Asked to Shoot 10-Hour Wedding for Free in Exchange for Exposure to Couple’s 300 Guests

As photographers, many of us have been asked to work for free, but imagine being asked to shoot a wedding not for money, but in exchange for having your work promoted to that wedding’s 300 guests.

If that sounds a little unreasonable, consider that the couple who approached the photographer made sure to mention that 117 of those 300 wedding guests are unmarried and aged between 24 and 35. Even better, 73 of the guests have unmarried children who are also aged between 24 and 35. Who could turn down that amazing offer?

In an email that has since been posted to Reddit, the couple asks the photographer to “sponsor 10 hours of continuous photography coverage” in exchange for exposure to the wedding's guests, not to mention the couple’s 3,000 followers on Facebook. A wedding brochure would be distributed to all of the guests featuring the photographer’s logo.

Screenshot from Reddit

Screenshot from Reddit

Inevitably, the comments on Reddit are not kind, with many pointing out that once you’ve shot one wedding for free, other couples will probably expect you to do the same. Others hasten to add that even if you were willing to work in exchange for the couple “showcasing your work,” 3,000 followers on Facebook is not exactly a huge following.

How would you respond to this inquiry? Leave a comment below.

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58 Comments

Previous comments
Alex Herbert's picture

Like those scammy photostudios that advertise on Facebook. I might actually try this on the next 'exposure' offer I get!

Are you referring to the "studios" that ask you to be a part of their team? The catch being that they will only provide the photographer the clients and that for a flat rate the photographer has to use their own gear, transportation to and from, etc?

Alex Herbert's picture

Oh no, I've never encountered them as a photographer, I mean the type that recruit clients in shopping malls etc, and get them in for a 'free' shoot (usually includes one free watermarked image), then try to charge them an arm and a leg for the rest of them.

The photography is free, but I'll have to charge you for the images

Timothy Turner's picture

I would do the wedding at my usual fee, then when the first referral booked for an equal or greater fee I would refund the fee

Logan Cressler's picture

So working half price for two weddings in a row? Might as well just work one wedding and take the rest of the time off.

Fred Teifeld's picture

Anything for a free ride.

My favorite one like that was the guy who knew everybody, was just so well connected, blah blah blah and if I shot his event I'd meet so many people and have so many opportunities and he'd tell everybody he knew about me.....you get the idea.

I countered with the following: My price for the event was X, which he'd pay. I told him that I would draw up a binding contract that would guarantee him a 20% commission on the gross revenue of any job that came my way through any of his referrals as long as they mentioned his name (I forgot his name so we'll just call I'm "Lying, scamming douchebag) and would continue to pay him that commission even after he had already made the money back that he initially paid me.

Great deal, right? Locked down with a contract, even.

The jerkwad got angry and told me I'd never get any work from him. I told him that I already knew that, which was why I offered the better deal because only a liar wouldn't go for it.

Simple... you agree to it and not show up.

LOL. Harsh but effective.

Tom Reichner's picture

The couple probably wouldn't really mind very much. Most people don't care much about professional wedding pictures anymore. They are usually find with just having the pics that their guests take with their cell phones. I mean, do you know anyone who actually cares about having good quality photos of their wedding anymore?

"asked to shoot a wedding not for money, but in exchange for having your work promoted to that wedding’s 300 guests"

The only thing you are telling the 300 guests is that you are gullible enough to work for free.

Jon The Baptist's picture

I wouldn’t reply..

This nonsense is so common that it shouldn't even be brought up as news anymore... Just ignore and move on.

Sadly some newbie will do this for free.

Fred Teifeld's picture

Exactly. There is always some inexperienced weasel who doesn't have to be concerned about income due to their day job which more than likely has nothing to do with photography.

Somehow I feel original article is a click bait. Nobody is that stupid. Spending money to have 300 people wedding and try to save few thousand on photographer. Doesn't make sense.

From a pure business pov, you don't do any deliverable work for free, upfront, without guarantee of payment, whatever that may be.
In this case, just like the Reddit idea, I would do a quick ad spend math ($ spent / clients acquired) to figure out how many weddings that could bring if I'd spend it on ads and marketing, and offer them a referral fee that would add up to the full cost of their wedding once they refer that many. Any more, and it's more money in their pocket than they spent on the wedding.
Or heck, tell them you'll shoot it, but they'll only get their pictures as they refer clients. All pictures delivered once X clients referred ;).

Spy Black's picture

If the bride is cute, I'd tell them I'd accept the offer as long as I can have sex with the bride before the wedding, and after they get back from their honeymoon. If they find that offensive, I'd inform them that's exactly how I feel about their offer.

Danny Colombo's picture

I wonder how many of those 300 were told by the bride/groom that the photographer worked for free? (Probably most?) Not a good deal.

Exactly.
The couples referral includes the word "free" and suddenly the photographer becomes Bernie Sanders.

Thousand's of photographers have been asked to do things for free, the difference is they didn't whine about it on line. They simply said "no".

I never do exchanges, I can't pay bills with it. Celebrities ask a lot for it and I say no, I don't need them. The only problem is that ALWAYS a Photographer accept the deal.

Torsten Funke's picture

If they can afford a wedding with 300 guests, they can afford to hire a photographer. It´s like these people that travel to Bali or where ever without money and sit on the street to beg for money.

How would I respond? ... I wouldn't... to be honest I probably wouldn't have even finished reading the message.

Bavarian DNA's picture

Regardless of what i would think of it, love all the comments, since everyone has an opinion and the diversity of it is constructive ones. Doing the Maths "lol" made me adjust my strategy and have a better respond to situations like this

It's a great opportunity to get Clients based on the laid facts but in the same veins it makes you a very thirsty Photographer. This opportunity if say is good for amateur and mid-experienced Photographers but it's a no no for a professional. Your work(s) should get you Gigs not necessarily someone's favor he's giving you. Every professional photographer has a basis for operation and he sticks to it. Be it integrity or loyalty.

But Hey! This actual offer will be taken by me based on if I really need such class of clients/guests to work for.