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Advice Please....Magazine not paying up!

A reputable French magazine commissioned me to do a feature in Moscow back in March. I spent 5 days shooting the assignment in tandem with the magazine’s Moscow based journalist. The material was delivered to Paris in July, they acknowledged receipt and thanked me. The feature has not yet published.

Communication with the picture editor was no problem until I brought up money! I’ve made repeated attempts to ask about invoicing for the job, and they keep stalling. First he said they don’t pay until they publish, then, after I strenuously complained about this approach, he agreed to pay but said he had to speak to his boss. I’ve since spoken to him on a number of occasions and each time I’m told “I will email you later in the day with invoice details.” He never does.

Of course, my big mistake was not agreeing a fee before I took the commission. School boy error, I know! But I trusted them given their position in the industry. I could just send an invoice but fear this will just be ignored.

Suggestions would be gratefully received.

cheers, Simon.

by Simon Roberts at 2005-12-08 08:12:31 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) London , United Kingdom | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Hi Simon, there’s a thread on here you could check out called ‘Deadbeats’ posted by Christie Johnston which has some great suggestions. It sounds like they genuinely have no intention of paying up so they’ll have to be pressured, but when I worked in editorial and commissioning often it was the payments department that was the problem, so there’s just a small possibility it could be that….

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 08 Dec 2005 08:12 (ed. Dec 11 2005) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Jesus, back in March!  all too common though.  Simon, school boy error or no, you were perfectly justified in trusting them and all of us have done this I am sure.  really this is annoying.  There is another thread here about deadbeat clients:


There was some good advice offered there, and maybe you can find your solution there.  Give em hell.

by Jon Anderson | 08 Dec 2005 08:12 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Thanks for the link guys. Didn’t see that ‘deadbeat’ thread at the time.

by Simon Roberts | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Just sue them. Yes, you may never work for this magazine again, but do you want to. Be very detailed in every form of expense, including interest and loss of any future income from photographic rights. March, is a long time ago – when something smells bad, act as they do, give them the ax. John Patrick Naughton

by John Patrick Naughton | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
I had the beginnings of such problems with a major newspaper. I  heard that some other photographer has been waiting for 6 six months + for paymetnts. So I email bombed every one I knew in teh publication. Picture Dept./writer/accounts..etc Got my money within a week. I am not sure if I will get anotjer assignment but I did get paid!

by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | Bangalore, India | | Report spam→
No offense to the French people on here but French magazines are notorious for this. I had a similar situation while I was in Kosovo & very much the same response when the money was due. I got it eventually  after I said I was coming over to Paris to collect…Black suit & skinhead style. It might work if you try this & get a trusted friend in Paris to collect & owe him/her a beer…or if you go yourself at least you get a day out in Paris as a debt collector…sounds like something out of Total Recall!!!

Good luck 


by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 (ed. Dec 8 2005) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
simon, you need two buy things: 1. a baseball bat and 2. a eurostar ticket. please make sure you collect with the interest they owe you.

by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

You may and may not want to do this, however it is helpful to all photographers to name the magazine so that we stay clear of those who have cash flow problems. No one wants to have this experience, call it a public service message. JPN

by John Patrick Naughton | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
"A reputable French magazine"

There is such a thing?  let me know if anyone finds one.

I spent 3 yrs trying to get moneys from Le Figaro. 2 yrs once from l’Express who tgried to claim they never assigned me to a story. Never work for French magazines without at least 50% up front. That’ll hold you over for the years it takes to get paid the rest. Basically if you’re not in Paris, having coffee with François and his mates everyday, you don’t exist. Mark’s tip about showing up on their doorstep is probably the only way to get paid.

I love the French, I really do,  and they do wonders with photography. It’s business and ethics they don’t get.

PS. I finally got paid by both magazines after I moved to Paris.

by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 10:12 | Paris, France | | Report spam→
Magazine in question is Le Monde 2. Like you say Stuart, they do wonderful photographic spreads but it comes at a cost for the photographer! Have you had any dealings with them?

by Simon Roberts | 08 Dec 2005 10:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Le Monde 2? No, but I have friends who do and can try and get some names there. Best to bombard them with legalistic  faxes and letters. Emailing many French editors is like throwing coins in a fountain and making a wish. Paper is the only currency recognized in France.

There’s only one thing the Paris editors fear more than dealing with people outside their closed circles and it’s dealing with French lawyers.

by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 10:12 | Paris, France | | Report spam→
Hi folks. I insist. Why not to publish here in any place all the publications that are hard of paying his bills?
It would be good to get some advice of whom do not play clean at the moment of paying. This way we can suspect if is better to agreeing a fee before took the commission with publications of bad reputation.

by Hernan Zenteno | 08 Dec 2005 11:12 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
I will preface this comment that I am 1) more on the writing side of things and 2) referring to experiences with American, not French publications. But. My experience has been that the business/accounting side of most publications likes to have its ducks in a row, and is empowered to pester the editorial side of the publications to get them in that row. So pleasantly pestering the people who actually write the checks, whose entire lives are about managing proper cash flow, has worked well for me in the past. Particularly at the end of the year or the fiscal year when the dates on the checks need to be at least in the same year as the cover date of the publication, or the accountants end up working late. In sum, when I adopted the approach of calling the people with the green eyeshades about money, and calling the people with the blue and red pencils for editorial, I stopped getting paid late. Mostly. Hope that’s helpful for your situation Simon, and good luck.

As an aside this again points out the problem with having the people who acquire editorial also supposed to be managing the contracts. Dumb. Any plumber or builder can tell you it’s a good idea for him to handle the wrenches and someone else to hand the bills.

by Marc Herman | 08 Dec 2005 12:12 | Oakland CA, United States | | Report spam→

I don’t know what kind of (written?) contract you have in place with Le Monde 2, but this may have an influence on any legal recourse you can take. Before continuing I should add that of course I am not a lawyer

If your terms and conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales (E&W) than you are entitled to claim statutory interest and compensation (in other words you need not state these terms in your contract as they are automatically prescribed by law) under the Late Payment legislation.

The legislation is part of an European Union (EU) directive and thus many member states, but not all, are party to it. I don’t know if some of the terms, such as the interest rate and compensation sum, differ between member states. Neither do I know if France is party to it

Under E&W laws you can claim annual interest at 8 per cent plus a reference rate (based on the Bank of England base rate) which in your case I believe would be 4.75 per cent (making a total interest rate of 12.75 per cent pa). Interest is calculated daily

Compensation depends on the size of the principal sum on the unpaid invoice ( each invoice incurs its own compensation fee) . For E&W it is:

Up to £999.99 £40.00
£1,000.00 to £9,999.99 £70.00
£10,000.00 or more £100.00

Payment terms should be agreed in advance, but if not than the courts will consider what is the industry standard, and for most professions that is often 30 days net in E&W.

If you elect to sue for late payment and the applicable law is England and Wales than I believe you will have to do so in the client’s domicile as the courts of England and Wales do not have jurisdiction over other countries – but double check this as with anything I say. I am faced with a similar scenario, my ‘client’ is in Canada

Before issuing a court summons you should instruct a solicitor (lawyer) to issue a Letter Before Action (LBA). This proves to the courts that the defendent was given ample notice to settle the debt before legal action and works in your favour. An LBA often gives 7 days notice and clear instructions on how to settle the debt. This might be enough to get them to pay

For more (UK) information regarding late payment legislation and online interest calculator visit


Somewhere on the site is also a template letter to send bad debtors detailing the debt owed (principle sum) plus compensation plus interest.

Perhaps you can consider firstly letting them know that if they don’t pay soon you will excercise your statutory right to interest and compensation. Then if they don’t respond, send them the template letter. And finally an LBA . Of course what you decide depends on whether it’s important to you to maintain a warm relationship!

Hope this helps



by Paul Panayiotou | 08 Dec 2005 14:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

by Espen Mork Dahl | 09 Dec 2005 05:12 (ed. Dec 9 2005) | Oslo, Norway | | Report spam→
Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

I took the initial step of sending out emails to everyone I had addresses for at the magazine, including an emotional plea to the journalist I worked with on the story. She is staff, and therefore has more clout. It seems to have worked. I was astonished to get a call from the head picture editor this morning who has now agreed the fee and requested my invoice.

Now the final hurdle is actually receiving the money. However, I do feel more confident about that now.

So thanks again, and I suppose the moral of the story is persistence and hounding.

As an aside, I do agree with Hernan’s idea of having a name and shame section to LS where photographers can rate clients for speed of payment / rates / picture usage etc.

Anyway, I’ll let you know how long it takes to get paid now!

best, Simon.

by Simon Roberts | 09 Dec 2005 06:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I’d be careful of the ‘name and shame’ thing here for legal reasons…a site like this can be interpreted as ‘publishing’ so you could get in hot water if people start naming names and such on a list or database, although postings mentioning the names of a magazine are usually alright, if worded carefully.

I know its a bit tedious and we all want to be nice guys and all, but its really important to remember that our relationship with clients is a business relationship.

We’ve got to get over this idea in our business that clients are like some Renaissance prince commissioning a work from us. Of course for all kinds of reasons they want us to feel this way, but the truth is:

They are the customer and we are the vendor – and as such, we should let them know (politely and professionally of course) that our goods and services carry terms and conditions just like any other business.

In the UK its usually payment in 30 days.

So for big projects at least, don’t forget to issue (by fax or e-mail) a confirmation of the job before you start, carrying your terms and conditions.

Entities like the NPPA, ASMP, EP (US) and the AoP and NUJ (UK) have forms which can be used applicable to US or UK and EU law.

If a client defaults, there’s not necessarily a need to fall out with the Picture Editor at all, because a lot of the time they don’t have control of the budget anyway – its the Accounts Dep’t you usually need to contact to sort things out, and hey, its strictly business, nothing personal ya know? Sometimes they might not even work in the same office.

You can go through the contractual and legal motions of getting your cash with the accounts people, and sometimes its the picture editor who will get on the phone and shout at them to pay you.

by [former member] | 09 Dec 2005 07:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

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Simon Roberts, Photographer Simon Roberts
Brighton , United Kingdom
Jenny Lynn Walker, Homo Sapien Jenny Lynn Walker
Homo Sapien
London , United Kingdom
Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
John Patrick Naughton, Photographer John Patrick Naughton
New York City , United States
Hernan Zenteno, Photographer Hernan Zenteno
Buenos Aires , Argentina ( EZE )
Marc Herman, Writer Marc Herman
Barcelona , Spain
Paul Panayiotou, Photographer Paul Panayiotou
London , United Kingdom ( LHR )
Espen Mork Dahl, Photographer Espen Mork Dahl
Oslo , Norway ( AAA )


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