Ashley Morrison's Blog

May 19, 2016

What happens if things go wrong ?

Sometimes other photographers would ask me – when I tell them that I only ask my clients beforehand, to pay me for the Rights to use my work, rather than for my time & expenses to do the work for them – what happens if after you spend a lot of time and money producing a set of images, the client then turns around and says that they do not want to use ​them or pay for the use of them?

Or what if are now not prepared to pay as much?
Or what if they want a lot more done to the images first, etc, etc?

Well thankfully that doesn’t happen very often, mainly because I would usually try to put everything down in writing beforehand – as well as ask lots of questions about things like:

Who is your target market?
What do​ the images need to say to your target market?
Which media are you planning on using the images in?
How long are you needing to use them in those media?
Plus where in the World are you going to be advertising in those media?

In other words, it’s a bit like the 5Ws.

Because their answers to those type of questions would then help me understand what it is I need to do to meet their needs.

So it is therefore important that they tell me what they need upfront, and if there is anything specific that they require – be it a look or a style or some retouching done, etc, etc – then that would also need to be put in writing beforehand too.

Because the price that I would be quoting them beforehand…
Recce picture taken in the Atlantic View bedroom at the Galway Bay Hotel on the promenade at Salthill.
.. would be for the Rights to use the images that I had created afterwards, so naturally, ​it would be based on that information.

But still, I hear you say: “What happens if it all goes wrong” – for whatever reason – and they end up not wanting to pay or they don’t want to pay as much, etc, etc?​

Well first off, I’d probably want to find out why that was – for example, was it something that I did wrong or didn’t get right or misunderstood?
Or are they now just trying to pull a fast one ?

As a rule of thumb, if someone has invested a lot of their own time and money in a shoot – then it’s highly unlikely that they wouldn’t then want to use the images afterwards.

So, therefore, ​I would say, that 99% of the time if the client did say afterward​s that they did not want to pay for the use the images, the fault would lie at my end.
Which I would then naturally want to learn from – as ‘The Goal’ beforehand would have been, to try and produce some images that they (and possibly others too) would actually want to use – and hopefully want to use a lot too – rather than just see if I could take some pictures… which I know I could probably do with my iPhone icon_wink

Anyway, if I was to say it has never happened or was to say that I have never failed to produce the type of images that a client would want to pay for the use of, that would be a lie – because it has happened and it did actually happen very recently too.

So the question I have to ask myself, is obviously “Why did it happen ?” – because that was not ‘The Goal’ beforehand.

Not always an easy one to answer, because there may, in fact, be a number of reasons as to why it happened – but the bottom-line is: There are no winners when it does happen.
Because they don’t get what they want and I naturally don’t get what I want neither icon_cry

And when that happens, then below you can see some examples of what that this lose-lose type of deal ends up looking like:

This is what this page currently looks like on their website…
What the Atlantic View bedroom at the Galway Bay Hotel on the promenade at Salthill does look like on their website.
.. of the Ocean View Double Room – versus what it could have looked like…
The Atlantic View bedroom at the Galway Bay Hotel on the promenade at Salthill.
.. if I had been prepared to remove the building outside the window, for the same price as I had quoted them before they asked for that.

Which obviously I wasn’t prepared to do, because to do that well – so as one could not tell that it had been retouched, even when viewed at billboard size or in any media at any size – that would probably double​ the amount of time that I would need to spend on creating the image.

And it was the same here…
Galway Bay Suite at the Galway Bay Hotel on the promenade at Salthill.
.. as a result, this is how that same Atlantic View Suite currently looks on their website…
Screenshot of the Atlantic View Suite Bedroom picture on the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill's website.
.. and this is how their Family room looks…
What the Family bedroom suite at the Galway Bay Hotel on the promenade at Salthill does look like on their website.
.. which once again, could have looked like this instead…
Family Bedroom at the Galway Bay Hotel on the promenade at Salthill.
.. had I been prepared to replace the view outside the window.

“Forest for the trees” springs to mind – but there you have it – there are no winners is the answer icon_cry

Still, we did all really enjoy our stay in their hotel for a few days – which I talk about here: A lot more to it – and I did end-up with some lovely images for my own portfolio icon_wink

Plus it has given me something to blog about here for the​ second time – so all is not lost, because I at least have been able to put my work to good use cool



  1. Hi Ashley, I read many of your posts on the PFRE forum, and that is how I found your blog. The information you provide is helping me understand licensing and other things. This article addresses a question that I have had, that I have not found an answer to yet. Which is, how do you secure the property release form for the images, so that you can use them in this case? Please forgive that basic question, but I can not figure it out, and you are the person who understands these things more than the others it appears. Thank you very much for your time and for these blogs.

    Comment by Christian Graham — March 10, 2017 @ 2:51 am | Reply

    • You really only need a Property Release signed by the person who owns the property, if you are going to be selling the Rights to use your images onto others, for them to use in away that has got nothing to do with the person who owns the property.

      So in this case, since I’m not planning on doing that, then I didn’t bother – as I honestly don’t think anyone else would ever want to use these images.
      But if someone did one day – then before I would sell them the Rights to use my images here, I would first need to obtain permission from the people who own this Hotel, i.e. get their approval first.

      And it would be the same with the Homes we shoot: if the use of the images has got something to do with the homeowner, e.g. an Editorial feature about them and what they did to their home – then no problems with that, as they obviously agreed to that (otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to take the pictures of them in their home to start with).
      But if a Kitchen company, after seeing our images in a magazine for example, wanted to use them – then we or the Kitchen company would first need to get the homeowner’s approval (and possibly pay the homeowner something to sign a document to confirm this), before we would agree to sell them the Rights to use our images.
      Which obviously could then greatly effect the price, especially if they wanted me to provide them with this document and/or handle this part in their behalf – as I wouldn’t ask someone to sign one of these documents, unless I was in a position to pay them something to sign it first.

      So it’s really all down to how your images are being used, as to whether you actually need to have the owner sign one of these or not – which is all part of the reason as to why you really do need to protect the Rights to how your images are used by others – because you could end up getting sued, if your images are used in away that the owner of the property that you photographed, did not approve of or agree to.

      Please note: I’m not a Lawyer – so this is just my take on how it works – as it seems logical to me, that you do need to ask others first, before you just assume that you don’t – especially if your images are going to be used in a totally different way or by someone totally different, to what was originally discussed with the owner of the property.

      In other words, if in doubt, ask them first – because Assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups 🙂

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — March 10, 2017 @ 7:19 am | Reply

      • Thank you very much for taking the time to provide such a thorough answer! I understand it now. As a beginner, I did not anticipate such things, and having you provide this insight is very helpful, to avoid potential problems down the road. Thank you for explaining it!

        Comment by Christian Graham — March 10, 2017 @ 7:33 am

  2. So they’ve got a mix of nice images and not-so-nice images, nothing like keeping a sense of style/continuity!
    What a shame for you though, all that work….as you say some lovely images for your portfolio.

    Comment by Kellie — May 21, 2016 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

    • Yes, these being some of my favourite images on their website from the last time that we were there…
      Screen grab of a page on the Galway Bay Hotel's website.

      Screen grab of a page on the Galway Bay Hotel's website.

      Screen grab of a page on the Galway Bay Hotel's website.
      .. which I talk about shooting here: Many hands make light work.

      So yes it would have been nice to have been able to help them keep a sense of style & continuity throughout all of their advertising & marketing material here – over the next 5 or 6 years, which is roughly how long a client would normally want to use a ‘very good’ image or an image that says what they need it to say to their target market – however, that now doesn’t look like it’s going to happen – which is a shame really, but there you have it, that’s what happens when things go wrong.

      They don’t get what they said that they really needed, and I don’t get what I would have liked wink

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — May 22, 2016 @ 5:42 am | Reply

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