Friday, May 9, 2014

Photographer Friend Is Guest First, Professional Second

Dear Tazi:

I am a professional photographer, and my problem is probably as old as photography itself. As you may have already guessed, my issue is with friends assuming that I will photograph their event for free as a "gift". In the market where I work, a good photographer can make upwards of $1,000 per event, so to offer my services as a gift would be extremely generous, and I have learned to be up front with these requests, explaining to my friends that I would prefer to attend the event as a guest as opposed to a contractor. Most of them get the message.

This summer promises to be a busy time for me. So far, I have paying events booked every weekend through the end of September, with very few days off. I am not complaining, and am appreciative of the work; I mention this because it has to do with the reason I am writing to you. My ex-sister-in-law "Shari" is getting re-married this June. Her divorce from my brother was a bitter one, but she and I have remained close for the sake of their young children.

Several months ago, Shari asked me if I would photograph her wedding as a gift, and I gave her my standard reply - that I would rather attend the event as an invited guest as opposed to a contractor. Shari gave me a deadpan look in response and told me that my presence as a guest would be "inappropriate" since I am the sister of her ex-husband. I was taken aback by her abruptness, and more than a little hurt that she would ask me for such an expensive wedding gift in one breath, and in the next make it clear to me that I would not be welcome as a guest. I wiggled my way out of the situation by telling Shari that I was probably already booked for that weekend, and would get back to her - which, to my shame, I never did. Both of us let the matter drop. At least, I thought we did.

This week an invitation to Shari's wedding came in the mail, along with a hand-written request that I bring my camera to photograph the event. I am not certain how to respond. Do I ignore this obvious attempt to coerce me into photographing Shari's wedding for free? R.S.V.P. that I will be attending without my camera? R.S.V.P. that I will attend, but make no mention that I will not be bringing my camera? Ignore the back-handed invite altogether? To be honest, my young nephew and niece are the only reason I have not written Shari out of my life at this point. As luck would have it, I am free the day of her wedding.

Camera Shy

Dear Camera Shy:

If Shari were a man I would say that she has balls the size of the Trojan horse to send such a crass message in your "unvitation" to her wedding! I have heard of Bridezillas before, but Shari has truly gone the extra mile in her obvious attempt to secure your professional services free of charge. Her attempts at soliciting your services as a gift was crass enough; but to turn around and tell you that your presence as an invited guest would be inappropriate truly takes the three-tiered cake!

As tempted as you must be to ignore the invitation to Shari's wedding, refusing to R.S.V.P. is never in good taste; I suggest that you resist the urge to throw it into the circular file and forget about it. If I were you, I would send my regrets that I am unable to attend the wedding and include a hand-written note wishing Shari and her husband all the best in their new life together. If you wish to send a gift, that will be up to you. Perhaps you could offer your services to provide a bridal portrait sitting for Shari and her children? If you actually wish to attend this wedding, I would strongly advise against it, as it is pretty obvious that you are not welcome without your camera. I wish her luck in finding a photographer at this late date.


P.S. A big paws up to you for remaining an active Auntie to your nephew and niece!

("") ("")
(These are supposed to be my paws!) --T.K.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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