A client generally does not make full payment due to 2 reasons. One may be due to the work provided by the wedding photographer (i.e.) the client is not satisfied with the quality of the work and in that case the photographer can try to enhance his work by editing it as per the client’s needs. And the other main reason can be that the client does not have enough money to pay the wedding photographer.
In India, the money spent on marriages is generally very high. Families save money for this occasion for many years. On the actual wedding day, the caterer, hall decorator, hall owner will ask for payment as their work is going to end on that day. Hence the client will clear such payments so that the marriage function continues swiftly. But that is not the case when it comes to wedding photographer as the client will expect him to take photos, record videos and will pay when the work is delivered. Sometimes, clients tend to postpone the payment and few may also feel later on that since they have pictures in their mobile devices, they would not require hard copies as such and would not bother to pay the money to the wedding photographer.
Having discussed the practical scenario, let’s dive into the solution now:
As a wedding photographer, you must have a legal agreement signed by your client and yourself, stating the terms of work and the conditions of payment. By agreeing on such terms in written, if the client refuses to pay even after the work is done, you can take the matter to the court in order to receive payment. But there are high chances that the case may not be solved any sooner in India as there are already many pending cases in the court and also your advocate would charge you accordingly which might in turn involve huge expenditure than what payment you will receive once the legal case is solved. However, having a prior legal agreement between you and your client will help build trust and will be a professional way to handle the contracts.
A point to be noted here is that if your client is a businessman he is most likely to not pay heed to your notices as he would not bother much if you file a case against him unless the dispute is very big that will affect his business in general. Whereas if your client is an employee, he would surely not prefer a legal case against him as it would affect his chances of employment in the future as companies ask for police verification and prior legal cases if any before offering a job. The way in which your client would react to a legal dispute is also based on his own professional limitations.
Terms of Payment:
Make sure that you break down the full payment in clear terms. For instance,
Advance payment – 30%
Payment on the wedding day – 30%
Delivery of the work – Remaining 40%
Because, if you tend to receive token of say ₹5,000 and the client verbally commits that he will pay the rest later. And when the payment is due, client may keep on postponing or also back out from paying the rest of the amount. In this case you incur loss, as you have to pay salary to your employees for the work they have done despite of not receiving any payment from your client. Having a prior clear statement of payment terms in the legal agreement would prevent you from incurring a loss.
As a precautionary step, set the terms of Advance and payment on the wedding day in accordance with the expenses you would have incurred by then like the travelling expense of you and your employees, marketing expense etc. In simple terms, try to receive the payment for your expenses in the due course before delivering your work and target to earn profits from the payment you receive when you handover your work to the client. If you do so, even if in adverse cases, a client does not pay you after the wedding day, you would not be at loss as you would have recovered your expenses and employees salary by then. For instance,
Actual Full Payment to be received – ₹30,000
Profit margin – ₹10,000
Expenses incurred – ₹20,000
In the above case you must recover ₹20,000 till the wedding day so that your business would not suffer much loss and would be in a state where only the profits are to be recovered.
Remember, always have fair payment terms, that is do not ask for around 90% as advance of the payment before even doing the work as you would not be able to gain full trust from your client in this case.
Delivery of work:
Another crucial mistake almost every wedding photographer commits in the initial phase is handing over the raw data to the client when only 50% of the payment is recovered. When you hand over the raw photos to the client, you have unknowingly forgone the leverage to demand full payment from the client as there are chances that your client may edit the raw photos from somewhere else at cheaper cost and would not bother to pay you the rest of the payment for your work. Hence, deliver your work or raw photos only after receiving the full payment. If your client says that he will make the payment later, opt to submit your work on that day when you receive the full payment.
Set a definite deadline:
The photos and videos of one wedding will roughly need 500 GB of space and if in a year you take 20 wedding photography orders, 8000 GB space would be required, (i.e.) you may require about 20 to 30 hard disks to store your one year of work which is not a very feasible option. Hence you must set a clear deadline in the agreement stating the period for which you will store the data of the wedding, say 3 months or 6 months as you would require space for your other wedding works too. This will also imply to the client that he must make the full payment within such deadline in order to receive the photos and videos of the wedding and if the client does not make the payment within the deadline you would not be responsible for hard disk crash or corrupted photos which may occur due to overload of data for long period.
Fixation of Price as per Inflation:
Inflation in the economy is increasing every year by 7% to 8% and so does expenses. So while quoting price in the legal agreement you must consider these factors and fix it accordingly. You should also remember that there are high chances that your client would not or might not be able to pay the last 10% of the full payment and hence fix the price in such a manner where your profit margin would not get affected even if you do not receive the rest 10% of the payment from your client. If you indeed receive full payment, it would be an added profit to your business.
These were the few tips which you can follow and improve your possibilities of receiving full payment for your work as a wedding photographer from your client and will also help you to grow your business by earning profits.