Oh, the Email I Get

Across the transom this morning came this …

I am a graduate student at UGA, and have an impending wedding on July 29th. Due to the budgetary constraints I face, I am unable to hire a professional photographer for the wedding. I talked to a few of my friends who went through Grady for their undergrad and they suggested that I contact you to see if you know of any students who would be willing to take pictures for us. We’re not able to offer a huge amount of money, but could spare around $200, plus plenty of food at the reception. If you know of any students who would be interested, please let them know about this offer. I can be reached at this email, or by phone.

Thank you, and I apologize if this email has proven to be an
inconvenience to you.

So I sat and let my blood pressure come back down to a less-than-apoplectic level and sent the following reply:

Most of my students are off on internships and jobs at this point so I don’t believe I’ll be able to help you out.

As an aside, I recommend you think very carefully about your budget – the photographs are the only things from your wedding that will exist beyond the end of the day. I am approached on a routine basis by people who are looking to spend whatever they can “spare” – and they are always disappointed in the end result. Anyone that you could hire for that price is, in all likeliness, not going to produce anything of value.

A “good” – not great, good – wedding photographer is going to need approximately $10,000 worth of equipment. If hired by couples at $200 a wedding, she’s looking at doing a years worth of weddings just to pay off the equipment (assuming she can book a wedding every Saturday).

Your email hasn’t be an inconvenience, but I hope you will re-evaluate your budget. A “good” wedding photographer will run you around $1500-2000 here in Athens, I suspect, for a basic package – a package you’ll have for the rest of your life.

Snotty, aren’t I?

But the point is this – your flowers will wilt, your food will be consumed. No one will remember the wise words of your pastor. The tux will be returned, the dress packed away.

And, for $200, you’ll have an out of focus, poorly lit, uncontrolled photo to hang in your hallway.

Where you’ll have to stare at it, every day, for the rest of your (married) life.

Think long term.

Though, in the age of Divorce Wizards, maybe you should spend more on your limo rental.

Mark E. Johnson

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