Ask an Agent/ Does it matter who pays me?
Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column tackling all your dilemmas about the photography industry – the photography industry’s first Agony Aunt! If you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to email@example.com. Questions can be on anything to do with the photography business, such as photoshoots, marketing, professional practice, pricing, contracts, legal stuff – anything!
This month an interesting question about a client having a change of heart on who’s paying!
Dear Ask an Agent
I’ve been in discussions about a really nice shoot for the last few weeks with a small marketing agency and I’ve just got the go ahead. Now I’ve reminded them that I need the production expenses covering in advance of the shoot they’ve said I need to invoice their client directly as it will be quicker. Should I agree to this? What are the pros and cons? There are models and locations and quite a few other shoot expenses on this one so I’m in a bit of a vulnerable position.
Thanks for getting in touch. There shouldn’t necessarily be any cons to this as long as you are diligent with the small print, although it’s not ideal that your client has moved the goal posts this late in the day.
The thing is, this issue isn’t simply about ascertaining who is going to pay you, it is about determining who you are entering into a business arrangement with. Usually the person who pays you is also the person that accepts your terms of business (and vice versa) as these are attached (or should be!) to your estimate and your invoice. So if it’s the marketing agency’s client, they are not only now taking on the financial responsibility but also all the responsibilities that come with commissioning a photoshoot.
Behind the Scenes / Julian Calverley
Let me just clarify a bit more. Any estimate or invoice you send out should not just include costs, it should include a full set of your business terms which should be accepted (or negotiated) by the client along with the costs. You payment terms is part of this, but a photographers business terms should include several key things to protect your business including cancellation terms, specifics about the usage licence, who is accepting liability of third party clearances and lots of other important stuff.
So, you’ll need to start from scratch in a way. Resend your original estimate, addressed to the your ‘new’ client and once your costs and business terms have been agreed by them, and not before, you can crack on with the shoot.
I hope that helps. There is some more information and a full set of photographer business terms and conditions in my book “Setting Up a Successful Photography Business’’ which will shed a bit more light on this very important area of your business.
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