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    What to Do When Your Clients Don't Want Their Space Photographed

    Put photography in your contract from the start.

    The best way to work around a no-photography situation is to avoid it completely. Lawyer Alex Ross, a partner at Ross & Katz, PLLC, who works closely with designers, highly recommends including a clause about photographing a space—both before and after the project—in your standard contract. “This way we’re able to manage expectations from the beginning, so the client knows that photography is important,” he says. Work closely with an attorney to hammer out the details—you want to be sure you’re getting the rights you need.

    Negotiate. Suggest stricter terms, such as ensuring anonymity, or offer a first right of refusal.

    Even if you have a clause about photography in your contract, the client may strike it out before signing. That’s the time for negotiation. If your original wording didn’t mention anonymity, it’s a great place to start. Offer your client complete privacy, ensuring that no identifying details about the home or its owners will be shared with publications, on your website, or on social channels. Work on finding a middle ground with your client that still allows you to add photographs of your project to your portfolio.

    It sounds obvious, but sometimes long discussions can change your client’s mind. Again, having a lawyer in this situation would be advantageous, as he or she could help negotiate specific rights.

    Ask to photograph details only.

    Say that your client is standing his or her ground during negotiations. The next tactic to try is to give in, just a tiny bit. “Aside from slowly convincing the client over the course of the project, the best solution I’ve found is to focus on the details,” says Grimes. “All of my work is super-detailed and hyper-custom, so detail photos go a long way. These cropped photos may not make a publication, but they can at least be used in my portfolio.”

    Go to court.

    Or at least threaten to. “I haven’t any seen any designers who actually go to court about this issue, but we’ve certainly threatened it,” says Ross. Going to court is probably more expensive than it’s worth (and will also cost you a client relationship), so it’s not always advisable to do so, but the option is there.

    Work with brokers if the property goes up for sale.

    If you’ve lost out on negotiations and the client simply won’t budge—and you decide not to take the matter to court—it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. If the client decides to sell the home, there’s a chance the space will be photographed to woo prospective buyers. In some instances, you can negotiate a deal with the broker to retroactively add those images to your portfolio.

     

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