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Terms and Conditions

The Business of Photography


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How Do You Get Your Money?

If you have in place good business organisation, this should present no problem. You will have already agreed with the client or the customer the rate for the job, your Confirmation of Commission Form will have specified that you require payment within 30 days of the invoice date, and you will have sent out an invoice either with, or soon after, the completed job. If payment fails to materialise within 30 days, you send out a reminder asking for payment within the following seven days. If no payment is forthcoming then, the best thing is to ring the client to ask if they had received the invoice, and if there is any problem with the finished results.

If the client then says that they are dissatisfied with the work, your response must be that they should have said that earlier, and the fact that they've had the work for over a month indicated that they were satisfied with it. This is, of course, where you must use some common sense and decide whether the client really is dissatisfied and perhaps disorganised, or whether they're trying to fool you and avoid paying the full invoiced amount. Generally, unless you know the client well, you should take a hard line and require immediate payment.

Should that not bring results, you must threaten court action, and be prepared to go through with it. There are two avenues you can take, the Small Claims Court or the County Court.

Whichever you choose to use (and the one that you should use will depend on the amount of money involved), be sure to address your letter giving notice of impending court action, to an individual - the individual that you dealt with. This usually brings immediate result.

Do try to avoid reaching that stage if you can; taking court action will undoubtedly damage if not destroy the relationship you have with that client. This is where total honesty and transparency right from the very start of the job is vital.

Customers for whom you carry out social photography tend to be less difficult, mainly because you should require payment either in full before the job (as with wedding photography) or in part, as with portraits. Once again, don’t let the client take the results away without paying; no need to be unpleasant, just quote that it’s your policy not to!

What Do You Do When Things Go Wrong?

What can go wrong?

  1. You’ve agreed with the client/customer what’s needed, when, how you’re going to do it and what form the results will take. You’ve sent a Confirmation of Commission form which stipulates all this, and more (eg when you should be paid),
  2. You’ve got enough equipment, experience and knowledge to do the job, otherwise you wouldn’t take it on. So you do it.
  3. You either send the film off to the lab you’ve got a good working relationship with (you’ve developed this), or you download the images from your digital camera into your computer, make a copy immediately onto CD or DVD and store it away safely, and manipulate to taste. Make the prints/get the prints made/burn the CD or DVD and deliver on time.
  4. You liaise with the client/customer and ensure that the results are as you discussed. Any problems, you solve them either by discussion or (if you really have made a cock-up) by a reshoot.
  5. You’ve sent the invoice, and carried out the procedures outlined previously.
  6. You put the money in the bank and maintain contact with the client/customer, ‘servicing’ them through occasional phone or email contacts.
  7. You continue your marketing and maintain your open-minded attitude by updating yourself and your methods/techniques
  8. Your business thrives, ‘cause you’re a good (and improving) photographer, with ever-developing interpersonal and business skills.


John Bigglestone, PPTutor-Online