- 7 years ago
- Wedding: October 2012
So I haven’t been around weddingbee as long as many of you, but in the time I have been here I have seen more Craigslist hating (from brides and photographers) than I ever expected to see, and I really want to understand it.
I will preface this by saying up front that I use Craigslist to advertise. There! I said it! That shouldn’t make me a leper in the industry just as it shouldn’t make brides who search there lepers among other brides.
I am a full time professional photographer with a degree in photojournalism, top of the line equipment, a business license, liability insurance, and an unbelievable passion for what I do. I love love love my job. I love my clients, I love the opportunity I get to witness so many beautiful moments. I’m so lucky I get to do this.
Here’s what I don’t love – “pay to play” advertisement. I resent the idea that I should pay TheKnot.com $1,200+ a year (no exaggeration) the cost of a nice lens I’d like to have instead, to throw my name into a sea of other photographers who are listed based on what they could afford and not on their experience or the quality of their work. I can’t tell you how many photographers I see with “Best of The Knot 2011” plastered all over everything they have who deliver absolute crap. We’re talking basics here – exposure, composition, equipment quality. I want folks to realize that sometimes when you choose someone listed on TheKnot over someone listed on Craigslist just based on where they advertise you are sometimes buying a trust fund baby with no artistic vision over someone who works really hard, loves what they do, but would rather invest that money into equipment or local advertising. I’ve talked to so many photographers who have gotten absolutely NO leads from their listing on pay-to-play sites. Why? Because anyone with money can list. There is no quality control or limit on how many photographers they’ll take because it’s a for-profit business and they don’t care who they’re listing.
This argument for Craigslist is not an argument against photographers who pay that kind of money for advertising, so please don’t misunderstand me. Advertising is a business cost, of course. I pay for advertising in other ways with my money going much farther than it does on pay-to-play online listings. There is a serious stigma surrounding vendors who advertise on Craigslist and that’s what I’m after. Yes, you will find lots and lots of absolutely horrible photographers on Craigslist. I find them more entertaining than infuriating though – if a bride chooses someone with hot pink curly font and blurry photos with the “beauty and the beast” soundtrack set to autoplay charging $400 for all day coverage then they’re getting what they paid for. I don’t feel sorry for them and don’t feel that photographer is taking my business because I would not want to work with someone who cares more about the dollar than the image anyway.
This leads me to my argument for Craigslist brides. There is a stigma in the vendor community about Craigslist brides. “Oh they all want everything for nothing,” “they’re all cheap,” “they just don’t appreciate or understand my work so I don’t advertise there”. Yes, of course, I’ve had people email me wanting full wedding day coverage for $300. I tell them no, don’t let it affect my perception of ALL brides searching Craigslist, and move on with my life. Some of my absolute FAVORITE weddings were with people who found me through Craigslist, who paid my rate, didn’t haggle, and appreciated the work I put into their wedding. Some of the images from these Craigslist weddings have ended up published, or on cool wedding sites like Style Me Pretty. In my start-up years I booked 30 weddings, 20 of them from Craigslist leads, ALL of them at my full asking price. I am where I am today due in large part to the people I met through Craigslist and the money I invested in equipment and other business expenses instead of pay-to-play advertising.
So, brides, don’t write off photographers who advertise on Craigslist. You will see many many websites that will make you laugh out loud, but who doesn’t need to laugh? You will find gems too, who love their job and want to be a part of your story. Don’t write them off because they didn’t pop up when you searched for them on The Knot.
And photographers, don’t write off the people who use Craigslist to plan some aspects of their wedding. They don’t all want you to work for free. They do respect and love your work. They do have kicka** weddings. And they do refer you like crazy.