My photography nightmare

Discussion in 'Photography' started by crabshell, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. crabshell

    crabshell Guest

    I'm in the US by the way so laws outside the US would not apply.

    I hired a photographer to shoot several kids and create a digital
    illustration in Painter from the photos for use in a large wall mural for
    the kid's school. The contract is not "work for hire" and stipulates a
    specific use. I paid 50% down with 50% due upon delivery of finished
    art.

    With the project at 90% completion, the photographer had a metltdown and
    quit, demanding I sign a release for the digital artwork in progress and
    pay the balance due. I did not sign and have not paid the balance. He
    will not relinquish all digital files I need to complete the work. (I
    literally think he had a nervous breakdown -- no joke. Or it was the
    combo of neurological meds and whiskey.)

    Question
    In order to use the artwork for the agreed upon usage, I assume that if I
    pay him the balance due, Im' scott free. But the way he's trying to
    screw me by not giving me the photos I need to complete the work, I hate
    to give in.

    Legally speaking, my concern is not only for myself but my client, and
    associates in this project. I'm thinking I should just write a check and
    call it a bad day.

    Did I mention he's from L.A.?


    Caveats:

    1) The photographer allowed me to contribute to the artwork and even
    requested I work on the artwork to help him get it done on schedule. The
    work is maybe 50% my efforts at most.

    2) The photographer does not have a release from the children's
    parents/guardians. He expects to be able to resell the artwork beyond
    the usage agreement but I would think that impossible due to lack of
    release.

    Any advice?
     
    crabshell, Mar 18, 2005
    #1
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  2.  
    Dr. Wayne Simon, Mar 18, 2005
    #2
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  3. If, as you say, the contract wasn't "work for hire," the photographer owns
    the copyrights and you'll have to pay to get the pictures. However, he's on
    weak footing also. If he accepted the contract, with initial payment, he'll
    have to finish the contract or return the money.

    As for any legal action, do understand that I'm not a lawyer and therefore
    just speculating. Regardless, if he doesn't complete the contract, you may
    be able to recover any money paid under breach of contract, and perhaps any
    losses from the additional delay. However, if you refuse to pay and he is
    ready to deliver the pictures, he could perhaps just as easily go after you
    for breach of contract, seeking final payment.

    In the end, it's best to work out a solution and get it over with. If he
    has all the pictures you want, sign the release, get your pictures, and pay
    the money. A release is fairly standard, often added directly to the job
    contract. Just make sure it gives you the rights to the use intended and
    paid for.

    Stewart
     
    Dwight Stewart, Mar 18, 2005
    #3
  4. I think you better find out the name of the photographer's neurologist,
    then avoid the guy...
     
    Bruce Coryell, Mar 18, 2005
    #4
  5. crabshell

    Louie Powell Guest

    You are probably going end up negotiating an "out". It's too soon to
    tell what the form of that will be, but it's a good bet that you will not
    get any useful product from the photographer you are currently dealing
    with, and that you are going to have to hire another photographer to do
    the job. As a result, it is likely that the final project will be
    delayed significantly. I would not be at all surprised to see you having
    to pay out a lot more that you expected to pay before everything is done.
    In other words, you are in a mess.

    So in the short term, the best thing you can do is get a lawyer to help
    you sort through the options.
     
    Louie Powell, Mar 18, 2005
    #5
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