I’ve been drowning in a sea of legal paperwork, but I’m free. One of the many things that most Photographers, Designers, or Creative Professionals don’t do in the beginning of their careers is get legal contracts. I was one of them and it didn’t end well for me in the end- tough lesson learned the hard way. Get it signed or ELSE!!!
My long-winded moral of the story is this: I got hired to shoot a job for a supplement company that consisted of portraits, products, and some “action shots”. What transpired was a fantastic shoot with very little issues; it was another smooth shoot to put in the books. When I delivered the shoots that when things started to get sketchy to say the least.
“Your photo look like they where shot on a cell phone.” Or “You’re very hard to work with and your assistant was a smart ass to us.” What? I was baffled and blown away by their claims, but like any good photographer I put my feelings aside and focused on the issues at hand. After a few emails to prove that my shots were not “shot on a cell phone” they started to ask for the whole shoot in high res files. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen and that’s when they refused to pay me and sued me for production cost and everything under the sun. Grrrrrr!
It wasn’t until months later when the dust settled and I was in the clear, but minus a paycheck, owing on lawyer fees, and suffered a major setback in my career. The worst part came when their ad popped up with a near copy of my work. Yes, they stole my work by using another photographer to copy what I had come up with. (No that’s not copyright infringement. It’s perfectly legal.) Needless to say this was the toughest lesson I’ve learned yet and I would have been covered and safe if I had them sign legal paperwork. Get it signed or ELSE!!!
P.S. I’m glad it happened to me because I was able to deal it and not lose my cool or faith in my business. Keep on trying no matter what.