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Disrespectful Potential Clients

Michael Ovitz

For my very first weblog entry, I will discuss what happened to me this past week. First a little background. I have a corporate client whom I have been shooting for since June, 2004. Professional portraiture. Over 450 since we began working together. Good money. Good work. Good business. They have been great to work with and for, always pay promptly and are straight forward to deal with. In short they are the Mary Poppins of clients, “practically perfect in every way.”

So what’s my problem with this client? Nothing at all. A former employee however is the problem. I received a call from this former employee, wanting me to provide her with a copy of her portrait so she could provide it to her new employer, a realty company. She was expecting it for free because “after all I was already paid for the picture.” Can you see where this is going? I told her my license fee was $200.00.

She was surprised and said she just as easily could ask her former employer (my client) for the file. At this point I informed her that contractually they couldn’t do that as I held the copyright and all third party rights. She said all she really needed it for was a one time email campaign. I informed her the fee for that was fifty dollars. (The $200 I previously quoted was for a onetime brochure use. I assumed this, my bad.)

I offered to fix a part of her hair she didn’t like and after she sent the money I would send the file to her and the person handling her email campaign. We agreed but she said she needed the file the next day. I wouldn’t do that until after I had the check so she better send it that day. I’m thinking “poor planning on your part is not an emergency on my part.”

She called and said she wanted unrestricted usage. I emailed back and offered a two year unrestricted license for $300.00 with a renewal for two additional years at $150.00. I would still hold the copyright and all third party rights. She said fine but still needed the file sent the next morning. I again emailed and urged her to send the check in the evening mail.

Next am she emails and says she would prefer a four year deal with a renewal for four years and felt this was fair because I already was paid for the shoot. Also her fellow agents had no limits to what they could do with their photos. Can you see a pattern here?

I mentioned that commercial photographers earn income by relicensing their photos and the $300.00 reflected a reduction off the original shooting fee. She then tells me she held a law degree and knew what I was talking about. She also said at a previous job she worked in the photo department and dealt with this issue.

Say what? You know this and you’re still trying to put one over on me?

After chilling for a bit I wrote back and asked her how she’d feel if a client asked her to lower her commission percentage because after all she already made good money on a previous sale. I mean that’s fair right? I also said that if other shooters want to give their work away they were free to do so but I held my work in higher esteem. Did she hold the quality of her work above others or lower? At this point I’m ready to book.

A day later no communication from her. I decide to write and tell her the scam she tried to pull backfired but I wasn’t the least bit upset. She provided me with a ready made lesson for my students at Brooks Institute. I would be sure to thank her by name.

A day later the check arrived. Three days after we spoke and initially agreed to terms. For someone who was in a hurry to get the photo, she took her time sending the monray. One can surmise she was trying to do a version of check-kiting: promise to pay, I send the photo ahead of payment and then she stops payment on the the check or delays sending it so I’m not sure what the real deal is.

I’ve been around too long to put up with this sort of ham-handed game playing.

Thanks for reading.

Michael

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One Comment

  1. duckwalksintoabar June 23, 2008 at 10:32 pm #

    Yo Mike. Maybe she wasn’t trying to screw you – maybe she was just trying to get a deal.

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