You should always have a signed contract before starting a project. No matter how long you’ve been working with a client, it’s just good business practice and helps showing you are a professional. You’d be surprised to hear that so many photographers still work without a contract or formal agreement.
However, even the most well structured and detailed contract will not be able to protect you from the pain of dealing with a client who does not (or cannot) pay for the services you have provided. The last thing you want is to enter a legal battle with a client, not just because it’s going to cost you time, money and headaches, but also because you do not know how that’s going to affect your reputation. Even if you win the battle and your bank account benefits from that, you have no idea what they are going to say about you. The negative feedback they might spread about you is going to weigh so much more than any money you might have made in the process.
How can you maximize the probability of getting paid? One very effective and simple way is to deliver only low-resolution JPEGs with a big watermark until payment has been received. You can easily apply a watermark by using tools such as Adobe Lightroom or Capture One Pro, among others.
However, you need to be very clear about this and the rest of your terms long before the shoot and set the right expectations. You need to give your client enough time to initiate the payment process (this could take weeks if not months) and also to make a realistic schedule for your images to be available to be used. If you fail to communicate this, you’re going to create a problem for the client, which is not what you’re paid for. You are in the service industry and are paid to deliver solutions to problems, not create new ones. No matter how great at creating images you might be, people don’t enjoy working with professionals who complicate their life, so remember to check your ego at the door and always have your client in mind.
How do you normally protect yourself from payment-related issues? Please share your experience with the community by commenting down below. If you enjoyed this information, please share it on your own channels.
Thank You and Happy Shooting!