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No contract, now client wants originals

Your contract is the way to do it. However, the OP had no contract. If he's looking to get references, maybe for the other 25 people who were at the party, he ought to be helpful and accommodating since the buyer has an argument that he was expecting the digital files (of the complete pictures at least). This is a business judgment the OP has to make. To stand on ceremony, to me, seems foolish at this point. What's the OP going to gain?
Not having pictures with his name on them circulating that aren't up to standard.

Not setting the precedent that he gives out raw files or unedited/unfinished photos.

This is indeed a business jusgement the OP has to make and my recommendation would be not to give out unedited pictures or anything not up to standard.
Anyone present that might hire him later will expect the same treatment and it will tough to explain later why he made an exception for one person and.not another.

OP asked for advice and mine is to stick to best business practices even though he screwed up npt.having a contract.
 
Not having pictures with his name on them circulating that aren't up to standard.

Not setting the precedent that he gives out raw files or unedited/unfinished photos.

This is indeed a business jusgement the OP has to make and my recommendation would be not to give out unedited pictures or anything not up to standard.
Anyone present that might hire him later will expect the same treatment and it will tough to explain later why he made an exception for one person and.not another.

OP asked for advice and mine is to stick to best business practices even though he screwed up npt.having a contract.
If Woody had only gone to the police, this would never have happened.


Yes, of course the best way to have done this would be to have had a contract. To *really* do it the right way, I would have legal representation, pay an attorney to draft a contract specifically for me, covering every possiible event scenario (prints, watermarks, licensing, timeframes, delivery method, number of follow-up edits, max number of attendees, points of contact, etc) and have both parties appear before a notary public. I would also have a subscription to the Photographer's Association (who are a very nice group of people).

Perhaps I'm being a bit hyperbolic, but I've come to this forum for advice on what to do next, given it's entirely a hobby for me and the admission there is no contract. I have to consider the additional expenses of legal contract development and maintenance, service fees, etc. For a guy that does this primarily for my family, and maybe five other times during the year? Fsck that.

This was for an engagement party for the son of a very wealthy and high-profile state politician here in NJ. It came from a recommendation from a mutual friend. I did not add my watermark to the pictures - I don't really care what they do with them. I have no interest in further referrals from anyone at this event. Of course the most prudent thing to do would have been to have had a contract, but we're past that now.

And it's not as if any of this would have prevented them from suing me if they really wanted to.

The groom-to-be said he wanted the "raw files" before receiving any pictures. As it turns out, I don't think the he really had any clue what he was talking about with the "raw files." After I sent him all the processed pictures as JPGs, his ONLY comment to me was, "Are you sure this is all of them?" That's all he said. I responded, and just said, "Yes, that's all 131." I followed up a day later, just to make sure he received my text and to see if he had any other questions, and he simply didn't even bother to reply.

I don't even think he is aware images need to be processed in the first place, and probably was just talking about uploading every picture from the camera, including the "outtakes" kind of thing. I don't think he had any intention of ever editing anything himself - he just expected that pictures directly out of the camera were perfectly exposed and framed and needed no color correction, etc, and that the only differences were that some may not be interesting or were duplicate shots of the same people.

That's okay - I got $550 cash tax free for two hours of work plus an additional maybe two hours of processing the pictures.
 
Ahhh, the plot thickens. “Son of prominent politician”, seems worried about some pics he doesn’t want to come out later to bit them in the behind. People that are still thinking about film negatives. I’d call this one done.
 
Perhaps I'm being a bit hyperbolic, but I've come to this forum for advice on what to do next, given it's entirely a hobby for me and the admission there is no contract. I have to consider the additional expenses of legal contract development and maintenance, service fees, etc. For a guy that does this primarily for my family, and maybe five other times during the year? Fsck that.

Then why did you ask for advice? From what I read most gave you sound advice from a business standpoint. Nothing in your OP indicated this was just a hobby.
 
Ahhh, the plot thickens. “Son of prominent politician”, seems worried about some pics he doesn’t want to come out later to bit them in the behind. People that are still thinking about film negatives. I’d call this one done.
Ah, that's probably the best explanation I've seen. Thank you.

At the same time, wouldn't HE also have then wanted some type of NDA or legal document?
 
Then why did you ask for advice? From what I read most gave you sound advice from a business standpoint. Nothing in your OP indicated this was just a hobby.
Well, I'm sorry if that was misleading. Certainly not my intent. I did mention I was an amateur - that generally means unpaid. It certainly means I'm not a professional.

My intent was to convey that I realized I should have done something sooner, but now wanted to tread carefully before doing something else stupid.

It's all about the level of risk - certainly if there was some boilerplate document I could use, but probably not. It then becomes a rabbit hole of legal nonsense, and it's just not worth it, or even really necessary, for those who don't make a business of it. Legal fees, subscriptions, liability insurance, etc.

And none of that would still prevent the "client" from suing.
 
Well, I'm sorry if that was misleading. Certainly not my intent. I did mention I was an amateur - that generally means unpaid. It certainly means I'm not a professional.

My intent was to convey that I realized I should have done something sooner, but now wanted to tread carefully before doing something else stupid.

It's all about the level of risk - certainly if there was some boilerplate document I could use, but probably not. It then becomes a rabbit hole of legal nonsense, and it's just not worth it, or even really necessary, for those who don't make a business of it. Legal fees, subscriptions, liability insurance, etc.

And none of that would still prevent the "client" from suing.

There's a legal axiom "ignorance is not a defence". When you accept money you automatically go from hobby to business and are accepting all the legal risks associated. In my previous (non-photography) business I probably read 20 plus new spot contracts daily. All contracts regardless of the business have certain boilerplate elements and certain critical elements specific to the business. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to write one or read it. During my 25 yrs at it, I never had my contacts challenged in court, and was used as their contract model by several attorneys over the years.

As to being sued, anytime there is a dispute between two parties (commercial or personal) you can end up in court. I always find it ammusing when someone says "I'll accept the risk", because they just dont know, what they don't know. The likelihood of prevailing in court is far greater with a written document spelling out the details than a verbal contract.

Then there's the insurance question ----what if during an engagement party your flash blinded Grandma causing her to trip and fall breaking bones. Who do you think will pay? What if you damage their property or cause other injury. The opportunity for claims is huge and "it was an accident" isnt a defense . That's why a professional probably would've charged 3-4 times what you did, they have expenses to cover.
 

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