You assume the photography is crappy because it is free. I've seen some outstanding photos from amateurs that will leave the pros jaws dropping.
Ummm...no. I "assume" the photography is crappy because...well...it is. You may have missed the part where I stated that I reviewed the photos on their web site? When you see an over-exposed, horribly noisy and out of focus photograph of a multi-million-album-selling artist being used to promote the venue, it definitely does not make this pro's jaw drop.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Obviously, the photos were good enough for their intended use. You must realize it is the customer that is deciding what is good enough. If the photos they got for free do the job, who are you to argue. If the client feels the free photos are garbage and is willing to pay for better ones, he'll decide.
This I actually somewhat agree with. But only to the extent that a customer actually knows what they are looking at. This is a case where the Director of Marketing clearly does not understand the value of professional imagery in their media material. He is obviously not an imaging professional and feels that his contribution to his position with the organization is improved by saving the organization money. And he's probably right.
Also, before anyone brings it up - this is nothing personal towards the venue which is why I'm not naming the venue or the corporate sponsor. I could care less what they do or who they use. The purpose of this thread is stated in the thread's title...plain and simple.