Apr 082016
 
Contracts: Read the fine print

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In my next post I’ll talk about the 5 figure job I had to turn down and some of the events that led up to that decision. However I’d rather prefer to work with a client I haven’t worked for in 5 years, but that liked my work so much I am shooting for them in a few weeks.

The company went through personnel changes – the original creative VP, who brought me in, has long gone – and they are looking to create an image library with me. You can read all about how they found me again and why your filename must include this one word – if you want to work. However that’s another story for another day. Turns out the job is awesome (it started out as a local shoot in Miami and morphed into working in Costa Rica) but the proposed contract was not so good.

How to turn a bad contract into a great contract

The language in the new boilerplate contract I got is stifling: multi month payment terms, absolutely no usage for the creator, I can’t even mention that I work for this client – not on social media, not on my client list, website, no where – that’s a new thing.

Please don’t assume that contracts can not be changed. I had submitted my original terms and conditions with my first estimate and the proposed agreement the clients are sending back is their response. Now we need to put the two together and make them a win-win for both parties. I submitted a reworked version on Friday and had a great 30 minute discussion on the phone with the buyer earlier this week.

The result? Much of the initial language is changing. Yes to promotional usage of images that I’m being commissioned to create, yes to listing the business relationship with the client on social media and my client list, yes on my payment terms (50% deposit before the job and balance payable on delivery of final images), ect.

For heaven’s sake–ask!

Even when working with very large companies, please at least have a conversation on the proposed contract terms. Don’t assume they are set in stone. The worst thing that can happen, is that the terms are not changed and you still have the right to make the decision if working under those terms is beneficial to you (sometimes it is). All I’m saying is ask. Many photographers I know don’t ask or worse don’t read the terms only to find out that they’ve been had. Many clients have global contracts handed down from their legal department, where the Art buyer or creative director understands that terms have to be adjusted for the specific situation that the shoot calls for.

 

What do you think?