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I know we’ve all had this problem. Does anyone have any brilliant suggestions for getting clients to pay up, short of busting kneecaps or kidnapping pets. It’s been four months, and this shrew has still not paid me my monies. We talking thousands dollars. Small claims court? get a lawyer to write a threatening letter, and does anyone know any lawyers who do this stuff? I’m in India, she’s in NYC, and the barrage of emails I’ve been sending do not seem to be striking fear in the heart of her accountant. time to kick it up a notch.

by [a former member] at 2005-10-07 21:49:10 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Delhi , India | Bookmark | | Report spam→

I had this with a British music mag for a painfully small amount given the growth and size of the companies holdings. After multiple unanswered emails to the proper people, I sent a second invoice and properly worded physical letter to the PE, not another deletable email or voice mail. This put the paper work and message in their hands. Additionally, I had registered the copyright for the images, which you should do as well:

This gives you an added bonus of being something that can only get worse for deadbeats, especially from their lawyer’s point of view, which is all that really matters at times.

by Chris G. | 07 Oct 2005 22:10 | Nevada, United States | | Report spam→
I’m just throwing this suggestion into the ring for kicks,but why don’t you get a few fellow Lightstalkers in NY to go round to her place and ask for the money.
I’m not entirely sure what the whole legal angle/implications would be,but if you authorised them to collect the cash for you,perhaps with a handwritten letter, then maybe that would work,assuming you could trust them to stick the cash into your account.
This makes Lightstalkers sound like a bit of a union and I accept that everyone is busy, but it’s just a not-very-well-thought-out suggestion being bounced around for kicks.

by Mikethehack | 08 Oct 2005 06:10 | | Report spam→
I say lets go get em!
Saw Scott in NYC….who is this deadbeat?
1. if there is anything I/we can do, just drop me a note.  2. May be by exposing them here at LS, the photogs can send some emails to push them to pay up.
Hope all is well.

by [former member] | 08 Oct 2005 08:10 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
I’m in New York and trying to get monies owning from a crowd in Dublin for an assignment last May, the bastards.

I call for an online Lightstalkers petition. It can always be printed and hand delivered on your behalf.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

by Paul Treacy | 08 Oct 2005 09:10 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
Deadbeats frequently say they have a “cash flow” problem. That causes us to have a cash flow problem. And so it goes. You being in India are probably seen as a low priority. When dealing with cash flow issues the squeaky wheel gets the oil (paid). More paperwork followed promptly by a phone call will get some attention. Have you spoken with the Accounts Payable folks? They really don’t like getting these kind of calls and the best way to not get them is to pay the bill. (& so they hassle the PE to pay the invoice.). Your friends in NY might be able to help but I’d give it your best shot first. Good luck.

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 08 Oct 2005 09:10 | Fort Worth, United States | | Report spam→
Unfortonately small claims is the the first legal recourse. That Means you would have to go to court or someone on your behalf would go. I believe the max amount allowed in small claims is 3ooo or 4000. Then Once you get a judgementyo have to wait for this person not to pay before the court sends them a letter. Then once ththappens if they dont start paying then you can fill out paperwork to have a marshall go send a summons for a nominal fee. As a photo assistant I had to do this twice against photographers and once against a camera store in Boston. One of the photographers after several years,Terri Clarke, still owes me a few hundred dollars. Funny note though:once your file the small claims notice, the your paper work becomes public information. this means TV court shows like Peoples court and Judge Jo Brown and the like start soliciting you to comeon their show and settle your case.

by Jason Geller | 08 Oct 2005 11:10 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
I’m not sure what the legal stuff regarding naming and shaming is,especially on the internet,so I would suggest consulting those who run this site beforehand and secondly, I would also be careful about what amounts to harassment and thirdly,are there any lawyers on Lightstalkers who could answer the questions on the afforementioned issues?
Failing that,does anyone know of a web forum where lawyers hang out so we can get this sort of info? Nice fancy portraits in return for free legal aid might be a good form of bartering.

by Mikethehack | 08 Oct 2005 16:10 | | Report spam→
thanks for the advice guys. Settle down ramin, i don’t think we’ll have to storm their office quite yet, but if it comes to that I’ll let you know! Maybe I’ll just send scott in his new, huge pashtun turban to intimidate them…
It’s over 4 grand, so that may rule out small claims court, bummer. I like the idea of barterer for legal advice, I used to have a similar agreement with my accountant. My brother in law is a lawyer, so I think I’m just going to have him write a letter to accounts payable. Hopefully that will motivate them to pay me. I swear this pisses me off so much. It happens all the time, but you just get so screwed as a freelancer – you do your job, uphold your part of the deal, and people don’t have the common courtesy to pay you in a timely manner. It’ a good reminder to be a hard ass when negotiating, even making sure that there is a clause that you will be paid within 30 days or the price goes up, that kind of thing. It’s a horrible way to have to think, but you really have to protect yourself.

by [former member] | 08 Oct 2005 22:10 | Delhi, India | | Report spam→

I still say lets go get em!!!! ;)
If these folks are a news organization then you should let them know that you can get the word out via Lights Talkers or NPPA.  I once had some people who gave me the runaround for an invoice for over 6 months.  After a while, I added $50 "late fee" and re invoiced them.  Long story short, it worked and I got paid for the late fee too.  Keep pushing and let me know if there is anything we can do on this side.

by [former member] | 08 Oct 2005 22:10 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
This comment violated our Terms of Use —November Eleven

by Unknown | 23 Nov 2005 14:11 (ed. Nov 23 2005) | Report spam→
Hey Christie,

My advice is to talk to your brother in law. You basically want to avoid going to court if you possibly can, even if it’s small claims court. It’s a drain on everyone’s time, it  costs time and energy, and it also tends to raise the stakes. They’ll get a lawyer, and pretty soon you’ve turned a few thousand dollar dispute ten thousand. I’m not saying never take things to court. I’m just saying it should be your absolute last resort. But your bro-in-law can give you good advice about this. The best idea, I think, is for him to write a letter. That works almost every time. It will probably work for you.

I saw, on another site, a suggestion from P.F. Bently that I will pass along. In every case, he said, give the client your checking account account and routing numbers. Then hold onto the images until they pay. When they’ve wired the money into your account, you send the images.

PF didn’t explain (and I didn’t ask) about the slight problem that you will be giving out to your clients your valuable and personal checking account info, but maybe you could also just do it through Pay Pal.

Anyway, hope this helps.


by Sean Carman | 23 Nov 2005 18:11 | Seattle, United States | | Report spam→
Hi Christine,

The only thing I can think to add to this is to send your invoice and collection letter via certified mail.  That way they have to sign for it and you’ll always have a record that they received it in case you ever do have to take legal action  – and will send the message that you are serious about collecting your money without going overboard!

Best of luck.

by candace feit | 24 Nov 2005 02:11 | dakar, Senegal | | Report spam→
Candace, that’s brilliant. Very smart. I’m going to do that myself for a couple of “deadbeats” that are screwing me around right now.

by Paul Treacy | 24 Nov 2005 07:11 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→

Wow! That is a significant amout of money!  You say you’ve written a barrage of e-mails. Have you tried calling?

How about this? I recently had a problem with Vanity Fair magazine. It wasn’t like I wasn’t going to get my money it was just a question of what decade!

The editor I was dealing with apparently had an attention deficit disorder and didn’t like submitting invoices.

So she waited like 3 months before she got around to it. I made phone calls and was promised the check was being processed! "We are bending the rules to get you paid," she actually told me!  Gee thanks!

More promises and still no check so I sent her a scathing e-mail and CC’d the name of every editorial person on the magazine’s masthead including the editor Graydon Carter and anyone else who I thought might be her superior. All of a sudden things started moving very quickly and I had my money in a week!

A few years ago I read a story abut a writer who couldn’t get paid by SPIN magazine which at the time was owned by Bob Guccione’s son. The guy showed up at the offices and actually pitched a pup tent in the reception area and told them he wasn’t leaving until he got paid!  It worked!

I have a friend who is owed $5000 or so by a rap magazine in NY. He can’t get paid! the problem in this case is that this particular company is notorious for writing bad checks. Do your homework on a pub before working for them.

by Bill Cooke | 26 Nov 2005 09:11 (ed. Nov 26 2005) | Miami, FL, United States | | Report spam→
Christie, when dealing with companies , individuals anyone,get them to sign a contract  first ( before you shoot ) this should have in plain english the copyright terms and terms of image use ( ie, they can not use images if your not paid and they would be breaking the law if they do so ) make them aware that you have registered your copyright for all images you have or will supply  ( let them know this too ) to them.

I had the same type of trouble with a few clients,the bigger ones were the worst,till I made the above terms part of the terms of shooting for them,and inclueded late payment charges,hence trouble with payments over due stoped,yeah I lost some clients,but those were ones that other photographers also had problems with,most were owed a lot more than me,was it worth working for them? No.

It,s hard to do,but you have to do it to protect  your living and copyright,too many photographers bend to companies etc that try to devalue photographers and photography,you like many of us have had the same problems.

Good luck in the future.

by Tony Reddrop | 26 Nov 2005 19:11 | Melbourne Australia, Australia | | Report spam→
I am sick of this gal telling that these guys did not pay up. Babe there are no shoutcuts in life. Stop short circuiting fellow photographers and then seek help.

by Unknown | 27 Nov 2005 05:11 | | Report spam→
Don’t know if this may help but what about contacting Editorial Photographers (http://www.editorialphotographers.com/), ASMP (www.asmp.org) or

 VLA operates a variety of programs to fulfill its public mission. These programs include: Legal Services, MediateArt, Advocacy, and Educational Programs. The core of its mission, and its largest program, Legal Services, delivers pro bono legal representation and information to thousands of members of the arts community each year in a number of ways: pro bono (free) placements for low income artists and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations with one of over 1,200 Volunteer Attorneys from the region’s finest law firms; in-house representation and counseling by VLA Staff Attorneys; the Art Law Line, a legal hotline staffed by VLA Staff Attorneys and law students; and the VLA Legal Clinic, a regular forum for any VLA member to meet privately with an attorney to discuss their arts-related legal issues.


by [former member] | 27 Nov 2005 11:11 (ed. Nov 27 2005) | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Let to insert and the five cents into the discussion. Two years ago I made work in Moscow for one advertising
Information publication photosession (USA). Photosession assumed rent of professional light, the visagiste 
and the friend whichto me helped (we have agreed on a part of payment to him). Before shooting there were
long negotiations (even workers of this firm addressed for the help to people which speak on russian, as my
English very bad). I have understood tasks and showed requirements. Photographing has been lead and sent
in New York, then I  has received the unique letter with confirmation of that that they it have received also it them
arranges. And all.. In three weeks I have written the letter on which have not received the answer, such has taken
place both in four week and through five. I began to worry and in principle was available by the worse end of this 
cooperation. I began to search familiar in Europe and America, alas at all it is a lot of those.
I have friend which lives in France and has a lot of familiar in  France. He has advised to not worry and try to me to
help me. He has told that usual practice to detain payments for the term of about three months!! But the most interesting
was another – he has written me the list official documents which we should sign in common before will begin
photographing which guarantee "relative safety" our cooperation. I was in a shock!!! For that what all this to coordinate
it would be required not less floor of year!!!!
I am free lance the photographer and each received order to me is necessary to be at war on a huge field of a competition 
and if I have sent similar documents on the coordination, my confidence – I of this work would not see that.. Alas the decision
of a problem not payments for the executed work lays in a plane of decency and honesty of the customer. The market free
lance photographers very big, and where that  we friends and where competitors which try to offer that to the customer more
favourable conditions.
Money have transferred me later three months, after lines of letters, switching and the president
of this agency. 
Sorry my bad english..

by Alexey Aistov | 27 Nov 2005 13:11 (ed. Nov 27 2005) | Moscow, Russia | | Report spam→
Also see PDN’s  "Guide to Delivery Memos"

by [former member] | 27 Nov 2005 13:11 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Update: I did FINALLY get paid, so next time I’m in NYC, drinks are on me.
After their final pathetic excuse that their accountant was in the hospital (please!) I sent a very official letter saying it would be out of my hands and all further transactions would be handled through my lawyer, they ponyed up with the cash. Bad experience, but a good reminder about some basic rules of freelancing – the wierd thing is this is a corporate client that I have worked for before with no problems, so I went into it nothing but goodwill. SO TRUST NO ONE. I had signed a very specific contract about usage, but next time I am in this situation I will also add something about the timeframe within I will be paid and a daily fee for every day the client is past due. It’s tough to be a hard-ass, but in a life with virtually no financial stability, the least clients can do is pay you on time and not act as if they are doing you a tremendous favor.
Thanks again for all the feedback

by [former member] | 28 Nov 2005 02:11 | Delhi, India | | Report spam→
In the UK a similar letter is called a LTA…‘Letter Before Action’…and can be obtained at low cost from most solicitors.

It’s basically a warning letter saying you’ll set the dogs on ‘em unless they pay. Try to handle these things via the organisations accounts dep’t as on quite a few occasions (though not all) the photo editor is ignorant of the pay being withheld, and is simply responsible for commissioning – so not much point falling out with them over something which they don’t control.

So go to the source…and issue a set of standard Terms and Conditions which you can legally enforce IF it ever gets that far. The standard payment time in most T&C’s is 30 days. After that (in the UK) you can charge interest and an additional fee (I think £40) under the Payment of Commercial Debts Act.

by [former member] | 28 Nov 2005 03:11 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Hello folks. Why no post here in some place a list of “hard to pay” big clients? Is better to have an advice of the possible deadbeats.

by Hernan Zenteno | 28 Nov 2005 07:11 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
Over the past four years this has become a giant problem for me, getting paid. All of my clients have either delayed payment, re-written contracts, or not payed at all and in doing so have taken the joy out of photography. If it’s a new client, I need up front money, no two ways about it, if it’s an old client, I need at least one third up front. I don’t like this new me, it’s a hard stance and places any photo editor in a bad position – but I need to get paid. I have taken the advice of other photographers and started writing for grants, I have received seven over the past three years, at times the money is small and large, I never had to call for it. In todays marketplace, I think you have to be both creative and flexible, though the latter is not my strongest point. Christie, I’m glad your money came through, have a large cool drink!
John Patrick Naughton

by John Patrick Naughton | 28 Nov 2005 09:11 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Ditto to John above. I feel the same way though I still haven’t toughened up enough to request, rather demand, 50% up front. I need to though. I have kids to feed.

by Paul Treacy | 28 Nov 2005 14:11 (ed. Nov 28 2005) | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
Hey All,
If you wish to alert others to those that don’t pay or are difficult to get money from.
Add got to: www.PhotoBlacklist.Com and add a new listing. Yes the add new listing feature does still work.
Currently the search listing is off line, “BUT
If you do a Google search for: {Photographers name} blacklist
you will get the search results.
this whay you can find out who the dead beats are before taking the job.

by JamesNYC | 25 Jun 2006 17:06 | NYC., United States | | Report spam→

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