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Couple Turns to Craigslist to Find ‘Sponsors’ For Wedding

By Hanssie on October 15th 2015

You gotta love this Insta-famous, entitled, get everything for nothing generation we live in today. A girl posts pictures of her booty on IG, gets 7 million followers and has an estimated net worth of $500k, gets on covers of magazines, is sponsored by large companies, and getting paid to make appearances. (I’m not hatin’, if my derrière looked like Jen Selter’s I’d be tempted to do the same). Models now have to have at least 10k followers on Instagram to be considered for jobs. Having a following is a commodity in this culture, and it’s never been easier to make money for existing (I mean, I haven’t figured out a way, but I am doing all the squats I can in the meantime).

Now, more and more people are trying to leverage their followings (however large or small) to get free stuff. Including wedding photography and entire weddings). In this wonderfully tacky post, spotted today by one of our readers, a couple takes to Craigslist in an effort to leverage their following of 17k to try and get their entire wedding paid for. Here is the screenshot for the now deleted post.

wedding-sponsorshi-craigslistpIn the post, the bride and groom are “accepting event service sponsors” for their upcoming wedding festivities, including a wedding photographer for their engagement party, bridal shower, wedding, and honeymoon! In exchange for your free services, you get free publicity. Wahoo! They’re offering up their entire Instagram following of 17k and that of their wedding party. Plus if that doesn’t sway you, they are young and have lots of young friends in their party of 300-350, possibly even 400(!) guests who will also one day try to hit you up for your wedding photography services (for free, I’m sure). Oh, they are also looking for basically everything else to be paid for from flowers to catering, et al.

Sadly, I’m willing to bet that they have some positive responses from wedding vendors that don’t value themselves and their work or are looking for “experience.”

[REWIND: WHY WORKING FOR EXPOSURE DOESN’T ALWAYS…WORK]

Someone posted a response to this “Cheapa** Wedding Couple” in a Craigslist posting of their own, which you can see here and below.

wedding-for-free-craigslist

(Click to Enlarge)

If you are a new photographer and are considering giving your work away for the promise of exposure, please read some of the following articles before making your decision.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

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  1. JP Cathey

    I’m totally late to this thread. I read it when it was originally posted, wanted to give it some thought.

    I’m not sure I would give up my services for free, but if just 10% of the 400 people used me thats a pretty good return. Just a thought. Not including followers. Not that anyone would use me but who knows? Just spitballing.

    Anyway, I think it would be extremely interesting to see if they could pull it off. If I did I’d document the whole process and blog about it.

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    • Barry Chapman

      If 10% of the 400 wanted your services for free it’s not such a good return. And that’s probably the only way you’d get 10% of them. I doubt the conversion rate (percentage of people in any random group of facebook friends, even young ones, who’d be interested in paying for a wedding photographer) really gets as high as 10%.

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    • JP Cathey

      Im not a photographer (just a clarification, not super important) I do understand what you’re saying. But as a designer who doesn’t have a ton of clients right now and has the time, it might be worth it.

      I think it would be interesting to have statistical analysis of this situation to actually see what happens and have hard numbers to go with it. Not that I doubt other people’s experiences. Im just kind of a nerd like that.

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    • John Sheehan

      As someone who has run several businesses, I can tell you it’s a fools game to give your work away for free in a case like this. Then everyone they send to you will want it for free.

      Now, there are cases when you take it upon yourself to give away a package as a contest (like Jen Rozenbaum did when setting up her boutique business), but in those cases you control the transaction. When someone says that so-and-so got a free session, you can say that was for a contest, essentially a one time event.

      In this case, you have the client asking for a free service, putting the client in the driver’s seat. This sends the signal that you can be used and pushed around. Let’s use the example I had happen to me and my friend. A woman wanted a free engagement session because she said she has a ton of Twitter followers (“Twitter Famous” was the phrase she used), and would promote the photos and me on Twitter. I turned it down, but my friend took her up on it and shot her for free. I doubled checked after this article went up, but they got exactly zero new clients from that shoot. The people who did inquire about a shoot wanted it for free too.

      It’s a matter of control. If you phrase it as a contest or something in that vein, you keep the control. You lose control in the situation where the client demands a free service and you give it. When the people they know find out that they were able to negotiate it for free they’ll want it for free too.

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  2. Ralph Hightower

    Reminds me of the DIre Straits song “Money for Nothing” (and the chicks for free).

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  3. barbara farley

    I hope they get what they pay for: Namely, a new photographer needing to build a portfolio. IMO, an experienced pro should protect the integrity of their work and never give it away for anything other than cash.

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  4. Branko Sreckovic

    Regarding wedding photography as business, here comes one ‘blasphemy’:

    ‘The best marketing is the one which goes from ear-to-ear’. Yet it is slow…

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  5. Jennifer Kamp

    Curiosity got the best of me and I actually took the time to contact this couple yesterday. I told them I was interested in their sponsorship offer and would like to hear more about them and their story. She responded back to me this afternoon finally. Turns out part of this article is wrong, she didn’t want photography on her honeymoon. She is actually a very sweet girl. When they said young, they do mean young. They are just 18/19 years old. So, I can imagine having the money for a wedding at that age would be difficult. It is not like some established couple just looking for free stuff. Plus I learned from her sharing her story like I asked, she was taken by the state, from her family at a young age and does not have the advantage of asking for her families help. I have to give this couple props. Most 18/19 year olds these days are out their screwing around and partying. These two are just trying to tie the knot and start a life together. They definitely, as Karl said, thought outside of the box. I mean she went as far as researching it. She probably also thought of this offer as harmless because she has done promotions for other very well known companies before. All of which according to her discount codes brought in very good numbers. So, before you bash the idea maybe do some researching yourselves!

    Working for free may not be everyone’s (if anyone) fancy. But if you are a newbie I see nothing wrong with it. It is not like you are turning down clients to do a free shoot. You wouldn’t be working that evening probably anyway. I think this is a good way to get your name out there actually. You have to start somewhere. Starting out charging big bucks with not much of a resume probably won’t help. It is not like she approached a big business, she gave the newbies a chance. I know if I was a newbie, I would have taken the offer!

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    • Karl Fakhreddine

      Thanks Jennifer for completing an important piece of info on the couple. The fact that they are so young explains a few things. If you could provide the info on contacting them, I would like to help.

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    • Jennifer Kamp

      Karl, I do not have her email. I was emailing her via the craigslist posting email. If you could provide an email and/or website. I would be happy to pass it along to her.

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    • Stealthy Ninja

      Oh please… I got married at 24 and I had no one to help me pay for my OWN wedding. I was a student at the time and I saved for a year, missing out on eating nice food and parties etc. so I could pay for my own wedding… and you know what?

      I PAID FOR MY PHOTOGRAPHER… and the florist for flowers and the location, suits etc.

      I don’t care what her sob story is, you pay for services rendered, that’s life.

      I suspect you and Karl are both plants to do spin control.

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  6. Karl Fakhreddine

    I think that they are a clever couple who thinks out fo the box. They deserve to have sponsors and a great wedding and I hope that they will produce smart children, because God knows that we need that ! The ones making fun of them are are kicking themselves for not thinking of it first.

    Working for free has always worked and will always work from Michael Angelo’s apprenticeship to PIcasso exposing in the subways . That’s how one gets exposure and experience in a field that is hard to break into. Of course the ones who bill for their work will hate the competition (as they should) and I understand them. But if you are a newbie don’t believe a word of what they say.

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  7. Jeff Ladrillono

    If I shot weddings, I’d just book the job with them and never show up.

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    • Karl Fakhreddine

      You are right they should be punished for trying to get help with their wedding. Thanks God they are good men like you for setting straight those young people with no money.

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  8. Kim Farrelly

    I just thinking about the suit and The Dress & all the patches that will need to be sewn on. I can see it now the couple is just about to be announced married and … ” we’ll be right back after a word from our sponsor”

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  9. Tom Marvel

    Why do I think this isn’t the only wedding for free that this bride to be will be planning throughout the rest of her life?
    I wonder if her divorce attorney will represent her in exchange for Instagram exposure?

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  10. Simon Grimley

    I’d consider it. But they would need to find me sponsorship for; new kit, flights, accommodation, expenses for food and drink…

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  11. Hank C

    I wrote back to them via Craigslist. And sent them a link to this page.
    They said:
    “Wow.. I never meant it like that at all. I’m sorry if this was offensive. I truly am. It was something I had researched and heard worked and thought I’d give it a shot. I have gotten some very good offers from legit self owned business.
    We are 18/19 years old and want to start a life together and. Have a family. We just thought if it worked for others and we had the platform why not try it. I deleted the post. I’m sorry.
    Have a good night!

    I wished them well.

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  12. Gordon Williams

    Work for free and get more exposure to the same type of people to get more work for free, it’s a downward spiral, good luck with that.

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  13. Richard Olender

    The everyone gets a trophy generation

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  14. Jason Marino

    Something really important to keep in mind for my articles that though these people post about how many people will know about you because of the service you provide, they will all know that you provided it for free and will all expect the same

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  15. Jason Marino

    I wrote an article on this very thing a couple of weeks ago, check it out here https://www.slrlounge.com/why-working-for-exposure-doesnt-always-work/

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  16. Trevor Dayley

    If this works for her she’ll tell all her friends to do exactly the same thing. Birds of the same feather flock together. This won’t result in business, it will result in being called the sucker that works for free among their group of friends.

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  17. Ben Perrin

    I will laugh if the photos turn out terribly. I know I should want the bride and groom to have the best possible images for their wedding day but not with this attitude. If they even make it to 10 years I think they’ll regret this decision by then.

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    • Karl Fakhreddine

      Please read the comment from Jennifer below. I think tha tthe article misslead you as it misslead me. I invite you to reconsider you position and help the young couple.

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    • John Sheehan

      I’m suspicious of “Jennifer” and “Hank C”, two people who only joined SLR this month, and both use the weird “18/19” phrasing for describing the couple’s ages. The post was taken down, but both were able to contact the couple and get such details, including the boo-hoo story of the woman being taken by the state from her family. It’s possible both of them contacted the couple before the post was pulled, but nine other people I know contacted the couple on the Chicago Craigslist (out of curiosity before the story broke here) and got no response back. I find it odd those two were able to get a response. If I was SLRLounge, I’d look at the incoming IP addresses from those two and see if it’s a case of someone making fake accounts to comment on this story. It wouldn’t be the first time some trolls or people who know the people involved try to spin the story.

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    • Jennifer Kamp

      John, I joined SLR when one of my friends who is also a photographer, shared this story via Facebook. At that time the Craigslist ad was still up. Like I said she did not respond to me till Yesterday. I referred to the couples ages as 18/19 because in her email that is how she referred to them. As you can see in Hank C’s comment, that is how she referred to them in the email she sent him as well. I also never stated that the boo-hoo story was a truthful story. I am simply sharing what information I got back from her in the e-mail. Why she did not respond to the photographers you know? I am not sure. Although, Hank did say he shared the link to this post with her. She may be on to some of the emails? They also could have also possibly already found a photographer. I am not sure. She did share her Instagram handle with me, she is a young girl, with the stated amount of followers. I personally am believing her story. If I lived in Chicago I would offer her discounted services.

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    • John Sheehan

      Sorry, but I’m still suspicious and if anything you keep making me more suspicious.

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    • Karl Fakhreddine

      I hear you John. Since the couple removed their posting, what do they have to gain in having their friends keep on working on this ?

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    • John Sheehan

      What they have to gain is to spin the story in a more positive light. People will be protective of their friends, even if they do something stupid. You also have the sad people that like to make it seem like they are part of a story when they aren’t. When I was webmaster for a series of news sites I saw those things all the time.

      A person would make fake accounts and keep trying to spin the story so their friend or friends didn’t look stupid, gain them sympathy, or just to get attention. One case drove the reporter of the story nuts because she couldn’t get in contact with the guy the story was about, but it looked like twelve people in the comments (who were spread out all over the country if you believed their new profiles) had no trouble tracking the guy down and getting his side of the story out in the comments. The twelve of them even talked about how they should help the guy and start a fundraiser for him. The reporter calmed down once I told her those twelve people, who all used similar phrasing in their comments, came from the same IP address. I blocked the IP, and suddenly those twelve people stopped commenting.

      When I see people who have suddenly join to comment on a story, have contacted the people involved, have intimate information, and use similar wording, bells go off in my head and I get suspicious. The reason I like SLRLounge’s level system is we can see who just joined recently to comment on a story to cause trouble, and who is a serious user of the website with a valid perspective.

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  18. Anders Madsen

    It’s pretty simple, actually – you’ll get customers in whatever price bracket you market yourself. If you market yourself as someone who will work for free, well…there you go…

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  19. John Sheehan

    Like Hanssie said, people will respond to this ad, thinking that this couple’s followers will equate to great exposure. I had a bride for a engagement shoot try this on me (“I’m Twitter famous, I have so many followers”) and I walked away from the job. The photographer who did shoot her for free saw ZERO new clients from that bride sharing the shots with her followers.

    The people who rush to give this couple free services will not stay in business because they don’t value themselves.

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  20. Barry Chapman

    Here’s hoping they’ll get what they paid for…

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