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I recently worked with a dance studio taking individual & group dance portraits for their students and also shooting photo & video for their recital. We agreed to sell photo products to the parents and "split" the profit, but when I gave them my fee for shooting the actual recital, they were confused because they thought the photo products were paying for both my services for their picture days and the recital stage pictures. I thought that these two things were two separate services and I should be compensated for both. They said I was cutting into their profit by doing that. This is my first time doing a partnership like this so I just want to make sure I’m doing business the right way. Also the recital pictures I take are used for their website. How can I best handle this?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems more like a legal question than a photography one -- but welcome to Photography Stack Exchange! Please be sure to read over the FAQ and take our tour. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 5, 2023 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ "We agreed to…" Always get your agreements in writing, using recognised pro-forma solutions, to avoid vague interpretations after the fact. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 5, 2023 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ What did the contract both parties signed say? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 6, 2023 at 2:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Were you paid a shooting fee for the portrait session? Or only a percentage of the sales? How much time passed between the portrait sessions and the recital? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 6, 2023 at 2:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the third question you have asked on the subject of a dance studio session, but either deleted the other two or used another account. We expect questions to remain to be a source for the future. -1 \$\endgroup\$ Jan 7, 2023 at 4:35

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How can I best handle this?

Get a signed contract in advance. That way it's in writing what both parties agreed to do.

Then both you and the client know what to expect. In your case they expected you to shoot the whole thing on "spec" AND give them use of the images (and possibly video?), even if no one bought anything. That's a pretty good way to let them take advantage of you. They might even give copies of the images and video of the recital to their students' parents and then you're probably not going to sell much of anything.

As for this situation, you can choose one of several options, such as:

  • Give them what they expect and chalk it up to a "lesson learned". Get everything in writing in the future with all of your clients.
  • Provide a limited number of web-sized (low resolution) images of the recital with your business name in one corner so you at least get your name out there. Make everything available as product individuals can purchase. If you sell enough then consider giving the dance studio the rest after a certain time period has passed.
  • Provide only heavily watermarked proofs and tell the studio that when you've sold an "x-amount" of prints or digital downloads then you'll provide them with images and video for their web site. Don't expect any repeat business or glowing referrals from them.
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