I am growing tired of receiving emails that ask me, a professor of photojournalism, for referral to a student for wedding photography. I am not afraid to give a referral, I have many great students who would love the opportunity. What bugs me is the approach. Most inquiries go more or less like this:
Hello Professor Rolinson,
My name is Bride-To-Be. I am getting married in just a few months. My fiance and I are on a tight budget, but photography is really important to me. I love the photojournalism style….catching the little things. I am wondering if you could recommend a few talented students with wedding photography experience.
My problems begin with the fact that you love photography, but you aren’t interested in paying what it really costs to make it happen. Photojournalism is a highly developed photographic skill…catching the little things. It is demanding and the equipment is expensive. You want it cheap (without saying it) and you want the opportunity to cherry-pick the best talent and experience to go with it rather than pay market prices for wedding photography. If you valued it so much you should consider making concessions somewhere else in the budget.
I get inquiries like this almost weekly. What do these emailers think that I am teaching my students? In my Business of Photography course I am certainly teaching them realistic methods to determine what it actually costs to produce quality images. The numbers often floor the students. I am not interested in producing the caliber of student who wants to see how cheaply they can work. That is ridiculous and unsustainable both for them and for me.
Student (soon to be professional) work has enormous value. The price must start out in a realistic place to be sustainable long term. The price has to be ON PAR from the beginning with the other professionals working in the current market.
Inquiries like this also reflect on what people really think about photography in the first place. It isn’t easy or cheap when it is done well, even by students. I wonder if accounting professors receive the same types of emails inquiring if there is an accounting student available to keep their books and file taxes on the cheap….I seriously doubt it.