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Author Topic: Contract signed, job tomorrow, no payment  (Read 8803 times)
ChrisJR
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« on: July 21, 2009, 07:55:55 AM »
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I'm photographing a large wedding this week (24th) for which a contract has been signed and the deposit was paid (albeit it took many weeks to come through).

Now with the wedding coming up the couple are being tools. They have refused to pay the full amount and have said they will be three quarters of the total amount due instead. Thing is, the wedding is only a couple days away and I still haven't received another payment. Pre-wedding shoot is tomorrow btw.

Perhaps this topic would be suited better to somewhere like the DWF forum (which I'm not a member of yet) but I'm sure this situation could apply to more commercial photography.

What would you do? Would you still do the photography despite not receiving the money (even though contract has been signed). Could be very beneficial to my portfolio so I'm in a quandry.

My wife is really pissed off about this and I'm getting increasingly annoyed (we're moving house next week so we need all the money we can get right now). Love to hear people's opinions.

Thanks
Chris
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 07:56:42 AM by ChrisJR » Logged
alainbriot
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2009, 09:00:08 AM »
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Hi Chris,

I recommend following the terms of the contract you signed with your clients.  What are the terms in regards to when the balance is due?  Is it due prior to the wedding and pre-wedding shoot or after?  If it is due before, then I would wait until I receive the balance to do the photography.

ALain
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 09:01:13 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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ChrisJR
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2009, 09:07:37 AM »
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Quote from: alainbriot
Hi Chris,

I recommend following the terms of the contract you signed with your clients.  What are the terms in regards to when the balance is due?  Is it due prior to the wedding and pre-wedding shoot or after?  If it is due before, then I would wait until I receive the balance to do the photography.

ALain
Hi Alain,

Term of the contract was 30% deposit to secure my services (paid a few weeks after the initial meeting) then final payment at least two weeks before the date of the wedding itself (not the pre-shoot).

Thanks
Chris
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alainbriot
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2009, 10:42:23 AM »
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Quote from: ChrisJR
Hi Alain,

Term of the contract was 30% deposit to secure my services (paid a few weeks after the initial meeting) then final payment at least two weeks before the date of the wedding itself (not the pre-shoot).

Thanks
Chris


Chris,

Then my recommendation is to enforce the terms of the contract.  Don't work for less than you were contracted for.  

Alain
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Alain Briot
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richard laughlin
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2009, 11:17:29 AM »
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follow the contract. Success is in the HOW.

if you shoot, then you have the "film". Before they get the prints you get the money.
 If you doubt that they are going to pay and you have another job available, then you have a more complex situation. Let them know that you are prepared to honor the commitment to the level and degree that they are.
remember, honesty is an advantage, particularly when it is so rare. And more importantly " Possession is 90% of the Memory."
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button
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2009, 11:35:53 AM »
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Do you know why they only want to give 3/4 payment?  Is there some extenuating circumstance that has arisen?  I say, if they're just trying to play hardball, then you need to simply stick to the terms.  However, if you find that a legitimate reason for their actions has arisen, then you might want to renegotiate.  I stress the word "legitimate"- they could just lie to you to get you to take less money.  

In general, I've found that miscommunications account for many if not most of the problems I've had with negotiations, so if you can reopen discussion and if both sides remian level headed, perhaps you can work out a solution.

John
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 11:36:36 AM by button » Logged
GregW
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2009, 12:36:08 PM »
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If there are genuine extenuating circumstances and you are still keen to take the assignment you could restructure the contract on the basis of you delivering an amount of work equal to the proposed payment. Depending on how you charge for the packages that could be less time on site, fewer final processed images, no album etc. The overall quality should still be 100%, but deliver less.

This is a common strategy in consulting firms when they come under pricing pressure from clients.  They don't wan't to reduce quality/price - they have a reputation to maintain after all - but want to show flexibility with a client in order to develop the relationship over the long term. The principle is the same in your case, you only need to consider that it's unlikely you will developing a long term relationship.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 12:36:59 PM by GregW » Logged
ChrisJR
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2009, 01:19:50 PM »
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Quote from: richard laughlin
follow the contract. Success is in the HOW.

if you shoot, then you have the "film". Before they get the prints you get the money.
 If you doubt that they are going to pay and you have another job available, then you have a more complex situation. Let them know that you are prepared to honor the commitment to the level and degree that they are.
remember, honesty is an advantage, particularly when it is so rare. And more importantly " Possession is 90% of the Memory."
I don't have another job on that day but I'm thinking take the photos. I'm supposed to be doing the pre wedding shoot tomorrow afternoon but I'll demand they pay me or I may not take any photos.


Quote from: button
Do you know why they only want to give 3/4 payment?  Is there some extenuating circumstance that has arisen?  I say, if they're just trying to play hardball, then you need to simply stick to the terms.  However, if you find that a legitimate reason for their actions has arisen, then you might want to renegotiate.  I stress the word "legitimate"- they could just lie to you to get you to take less money.  

In general, I've found that miscommunications account for many if not most of the problems I've had with negotiations, so if you can reopen discussion and if both sides remian level headed, perhaps you can work out a solution.

John
They said they only want to give me 3/4 payment for two reasons. Firstly they were apparently told they don't have to pay the full amount before the actual day of shooting (who told them that they didn't say). Then they said they were worried I would rip them off and not provide them with any photos at all. I'm definitely not that kind of person and I couldn't if I wanted because of the contract. Idiots!

Quote from: GregW
This is a common strategy in consulting firms when they come under pricing pressure from clients.  They don't wan't to reduce quality/price - they have a reputation to maintain after all - but want to show flexibility with a client in order to develop the relationship over the long term. The principle is the same in your case, you only need to consider that it's unlikely you will developing a long term relationship.
I don't think I want to develop a long term relation with them the way things are going. I shoot quite a lot of weddings and never do I get problems with people paying.

Thanks for the replies all, I'll have a meeting with the couple tomorrow and see what happens.
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kikashi
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2009, 01:52:02 PM »
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Quote from: ChrisJR
I don't have another job on that day but I'm thinking take the photos. I'm supposed to be doing the pre wedding shoot tomorrow afternoon but I'll demand they pay me or I may not take any photos.
Not taking the photos is the nuclear option: once the day passes, the opportunity is lost. They'll have no photos and you'll have no money (and there'll be no end of bickering about the deposit you've already received).

If you had another job that would definitely pay, you might have a hard decision to make. But you don't. So go, spend the time, take the photos and then, as has been suggested, don't deliver so much as a single proof until you've been paid (or possibly give them jpegs of one or two of the best shots, heavily watermarked). You'll be in a much stronger position than if you'd simply not gone. If they pay, great. If they don't pay, you'll have wasted more time, which would be a shame, but at least you have the deposit, reasonably safe from any argument on recovery.

I'm not a wedding photographer, but that would seem to me to be the sensible way to behave, maximising your chances of getting the balance of the cash.

Jeremy
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kdphotography
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2009, 10:30:47 PM »
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Weddings are a bit different.  I think you open up a larger can of worms with potentially long-term business consqequences if you don't go ahead and follow through with your part of the contract.  Photograph the wedding.  You've performed on the contract.  You don't miss covering this very special day---or risk your business reputation (right or wrong) from the fallout.

Don't process the images.  Just store the files.  Don't deliver anything---zero, nada, zilch----- until they pay in full.  
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k bennett
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2009, 07:06:37 AM »
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Have they paid the caterer in full? The venue? The band? I suspect they have, or there would be no food, no music, and no place to wed.

I am in general agreement with the others, in that I would shoot the wedding and then enforce the terms of the contract after the fact. (No money = no pictures.) BUT I would make this very clear before the pre-wedding shoot. I would do this in a very positive way, something along the lines of "the contract is in default, and while I am not obligated to either photograph your wedding or return your initial payment, I will uphold my end of the contract by photographing your wedding and you can pay me in full afterward, at which point I will happily provide your photos." I have found that being positive and upbeat almost always improves the situation, no matter how badly I might feel about it (or how angry my wife might be -- been there.)

As an aside, here in North Carolina, the wedding photographers that I know don't ask for or get "deposits." Instead they get a "retainer." My understanding is that there are specific legal definitions of the word "deposit" in a business transaction, and one unfortunate part is that a deposit is fully refundable if the client chooses to cancel the job. A retainer is not. (As usual, I am not a lawyer.) Of course, this is probably different in every American state and most countries.

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ChrisJR
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2009, 11:32:09 AM »
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Miracously, this morning a few hours before the preshoot was supposed to happen (they decided against the pre shoot as we had torrential rain here in Edinburgh) another payment came through.

Quote from: kdphotography
Weddings are a bit different.  I think you open up a larger can of worms with potentially long-term business consqequences if you don't go ahead and follow through with your part of the contract.  Photograph the wedding.  You've performed on the contract.  You don't miss covering this very special day---or risk your business reputation (right or wrong) from the fallout.

Don't process the images.  Just store the files.  Don't deliver anything---zero, nada, zilch----- until they pay in full.
This is kind of what we have decided. We'll do the photography and I'll process the images (benefitial for my portfolio), but I won't provide them with anything at all until the full balance has been coughed up. I agreed before that I would create them their own private webpage for which I may need but with watermarks or water-effect style rollover which will prevent them doing anything with the images. My watermarks will be virtually impossible to remove from the images.


Quote from: k bennett
Have they paid the caterer in full? The venue? The band? I suspect they have, or there would be no food, no music, and no place to wed.

I am in general agreement with the others, in that I would shoot the wedding and then enforce the terms of the contract after the fact. (No money = no pictures.) BUT I would make this very clear before the pre-wedding shoot. I would do this in a very positive way, something along the lines of "the contract is in default, and while I am not obligated to either photograph your wedding or return your initial payment, I will uphold my end of the contract by photographing your wedding and you can pay me in full afterward, at which point I will happily provide your photos." I have found that being positive and upbeat almost always improves the situation, no matter how badly I might feel about it (or how angry my wife might be -- been there.)

As an aside, here in North Carolina, the wedding photographers that I know don't ask for or get "deposits." Instead they get a "retainer." My understanding is that there are specific legal definitions of the word "deposit" in a business transaction, and one unfortunate part is that a deposit is fully refundable if the client chooses to cancel the job. A retainer is not. (As usual, I am not a lawyer.) Of course, this is probably different in every American state and most countries.
I very much suspect they will have paid for the venue/food/band etc in full. Especially considering they are having the wedding at a very expensive hotel with it's own private golf course. Now some more money has come through we are definitely more positive.

Interesting about calling it retainer instead of deposit, I wasn't aware of the legal implications of calling it "deposit". Generally I think people here call it deposit and I do state in the contract the deposit is non refundable but I'll definitely look into this more before another wedding (or whatever kind of photography work I'm paid to do) contract is signed.

Thanks
Chris
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k bennett
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2009, 08:00:16 PM »
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Quote from: ChrisJR
Interesting about calling it retainer instead of deposit, I wasn't aware of the legal implications of calling it "deposit".

Again, I am not an attorney, and laws differ widely between individual countries and states. There may be no legal implications where you are. Your contract terms may be perfectly sufficient -- but if it were me I would run them by a lawyer just to be on the safe side. In fact, every small business person should do this.
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kikashi
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2009, 02:33:15 AM »
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Quote from: k bennett
As an aside, here in North Carolina, the wedding photographers that I know don't ask for or get "deposits." Instead they get a "retainer." My understanding is that there are specific legal definitions of the word "deposit" in a business transaction, and one unfortunate part is that a deposit is fully refundable if the client chooses to cancel the job. A retainer is not. (As usual, I am not a lawyer.) Of course, this is probably different in every American state and most countries.
I suspect that what you call it doesn't really matter: what's important is what, looked at objectively, it is. As one very senior judge observed, when discussing whether a document which the parties had described in one way was in fact something else,

"The manufacture of a five-pronged instrument for manual digging results in a fork, even if the manufacturer, unfamiliar with the English language, insists that he intended to make, and has made, a spade."

I'd suggest discussing the idea with a Scottish lawyer before placing reliance on it.

Jeremy
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2009, 04:20:37 AM »
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Quote from: kikashi
I'd suggest discussing the idea with a Scottish lawyer before placing reliance on it.

Jeremy



Jeremy, that Scottish lawyer would happily go to court and face another Scottish lawyer holding the opposite view/interpretation. Being a lawyer is not about holding the right or wrong or definitive opinion. It is about maximising the return on the investment on office space. Were it otherwise, nothing would ever need to go to court.

Donīt go near them other than to make a will.

Rob C (Still nursing an old Scottish sting.)
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kikashi
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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2009, 07:56:16 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Jeremy, that Scottish lawyer would happily go to court and face another Scottish lawyer holding the opposite view/interpretation. Being a lawyer is not about holding the right or wrong or definitive opinion. It is about maximising the return on the investment on office space. Were it otherwise, nothing would ever need to go to court.
Not in my experience. Opinions will differ. Memories of facts differ, memories of intentions, perhaps the intentions themselves, differ. Views of the reasonableness, or otherwise, of actions taken will differ. Views on the outcomes had different actions been taken will differ. Disputes will require resolution.

Quote from: Rob C
Rob C (Still nursing an old Scottish sting.)
Plainly.

Jeremy
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 07:56:40 AM by kikashi » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2009, 08:49:21 AM »
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Quote from: kikashi
Not in my experience. Opinions will differ. Memories of facts differ, memories of intentions, perhaps the intentions themselves, differ. Views of the reasonableness, or otherwise, of actions taken will differ. Views on the outcomes had different actions been taken will differ. Disputes will require resolution.


Plainly.

Jeremy


Jeremy, seems to me you have simply restated my own case. Just like any old lawyer, then...

;-)


Rob C
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Justan
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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2009, 04:03:17 PM »
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Quote from: ChrisJR
I'm photographing a large wedding this week (24th) for which a contract has been signed and the deposit was paid (albeit it took many weeks to come through).

Now with the wedding coming up the couple are being tools. They have refused to pay the full amount and have said they will be three quarters of the total amount due instead. Thing is, the wedding is only a couple days away and I still haven't received another payment. Pre-wedding shoot is tomorrow btw.

Perhaps this topic would be suited better to somewhere like the DWF forum (which I'm not a member of yet) but I'm sure this situation could apply to more commercial photography.

What would you do? Would you still do the photography despite not receiving the money (even though contract has been signed). Could be very beneficial to my portfolio so I'm in a quandry.

My wife is really pissed off about this and I'm getting increasingly annoyed (we're moving house next week so we need all the money we can get right now). Love to hear people's opinions.

Thanks
Chris


Consider the event a mirror of your character. Forget the buyers, as in their eyes, they probably feel justified. Rightly or wrongly doesnít really matter for the sake of the conversation.

Were it me, unless they buyers were rude and overtly trying to screw me, I would do the work, and make it my best. I would also refuse to provide them with any proofs until the contractual obligation for payment was met. It is vital to maintain a good-faith attitude.

Once you do the wedding, they have no recource beyond payment. Were you to walk, they would probably bad-mouth you to others, and possibly even do some consumer protection actions. It isnít worth going through. In these cases, even if you are right, you take a hit. Sometimes the hit makes the newspapers

I do have one question: Why did they suggest paying 75%?

Itís hard but try not to let money or your own sense of urgent need get in the way of your integrity.

I did weddings for a couple of years. The buyers are always looking for or trying to force a deal. I could share stories.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 04:05:25 PM by Justan » Logged

ChrisJR
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2009, 06:53:53 PM »
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Quote from: Justan
Consider the event a mirror of your character. Forget the buyers, as in their eyes, they probably feel justified. Rightly or wrongly doesnít really matter for the sake of the conversation.

Were it me, unless they buyers were rude and overtly trying to screw me, I would do the work, and make it my best. I would also refuse to provide them with any proofs until the contractual obligation for payment was met. It is vital to maintain a good-faith attitude.

Once you do the wedding, they have no recource beyond payment. Were you to walk, they would probably bad-mouth you to others, and possibly even do some consumer protection actions. It isnít worth going through. In these cases, even if you are right, you take a hit. Sometimes the hit makes the newspapers

I do have one question: Why did they suggest paying 75%?

Itís hard but try not to let money or your own sense of urgent need get in the way of your integrity.

I did weddings for a couple of years. The buyers are always looking for or trying to force a deal. I could share stories.
They said they were worried about me ripping them off but also the groom (who I've had the most contact with) had been stressing about the cost of the wedding.

I'm fairly disappointed they would like think that of me but I can understand to an extent. Anyway, more money has now arrived and we did the pre-shoot on Thursday which turned out great, so I don't think getting the rest of the money will be a problem.

As people have suggested, they are right that I should still shoot the wedding. I've only been shooting weddings seriously for a year or so now and I definitely can't afford to take a negative hit. Plus the images should be totally beneficial for my portfolio.

Thanks
Chris
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kaelaria
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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2009, 07:22:11 PM »
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They are NOT interested in you, as a professional, artist or the quality of your work.  You are simply a number in the wedding and are now treated as such.

If they do not pay you AS SPECIFIED in the contract, do you honestly think you will have the proper mindset and attitude during the day to do a great job as usual?  Most likely if they are acting this way now, they will in the future.  You may only have more frustration coming your way.

I would take whatever non-refundable deposit you have, refund the rest and say good day, if they have not paid you UP FRONT at the start of the shooting day.  Tell them that is the plan now and to have the check ready before you begin.  Don't think for a SECOND the other wedding vendors operate the same way, as mentioned.

No check?  No food.  No check?  No venue.

I HATE clients that only see you as a number.  If you don't appreciate my work, I don't need you as a client.
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