Seeking Your Advice…

I have a dilemma, awhile back I was approached by an ad exec who wanted to use some of my images of a resort for a 16 page brochure he was developing for an event for well-known company. I spoke with him on the phone, he was very nice and seemed very professional. We agreed on some terms and he sent me a contract. Throughout the development process, he kept in contact ~ even sending me some updates along the way.

As the date approached, I contacted him to see where it was at and he said there had been some last minute changes and he thought they might even be using a few more of my images. So I patiently waited for payment. The event has come and gone and I have tried contacting him several times and now nothing – no response. I started to question if it was even a real event, and since I have a relationship with the hotel in question, I contacted them and it was confirmed that it was a valid event.

I’m posting this because some of you may have come across a situation like this and can give me some advice. I am purposely not naming him in the case that this is some oversight, however, I would appreciate your input and suggestions.

In all honesty, I am hoping he sees this post and things get resolved as they should. If they don’t, do I do another post with his name to “warn” others? Let me know your thoughts.

The images posted are some of the images he used.


51 thoughts on “Seeking Your Advice…

    • Unfortunately, we not talking thousands of dollars so an attorney would probably cost more than the amount collected. I guess I was just more curious as to if this has happened to many people.

      • An attorney could be a friend of yours or a friend of a friend. Writing a simple letter for you is not a lawsuit and should cost little to nothing. My own inclination would be to break his kneecap, if I was done that way. But I seldom act on my inclinations, for good reason.

  1. the relationship you’ve got with the resort is your leverage… time to ask ad exec if you should contact the hotel directly about the delay in payment, or if you can expect it from him within 24 hours so a step like that won’t be necessary

    • Unfortunately, I don’t believe the resort was involved with the making of the brochure but I may ask them for some more information on the company so I can find a contact there.

  2. Hi. I license pictures for a living. I run into this sort of thing from time-to-time. Unless you have more contact info for him, you are sort of stuck. You have a couple of options. You can use an online search service like They charge minimal fees and they are not always current. But, before you do that, try If you get lucky enough to find him that way, send him an invoice via some service that you can track, like the USPS Registered Mail or FEDEX. That will do two things. It will confirm that he received the invoice and it will give you a delivery date. Wait 90 days and send a demand letter stating that he has infringed on your copyright and mark the invoice for treble costs. Then take him to small claims court. It’s not pleasant, but you have to protect yourself — and the rest of us for that matter. 🙂 If you like to talk to me directly —

    • Thanks so much for the advice. Sending an invoice is a great idea. He actually added me to his linkedin account and, in the beginning when i was doing a little research on him, a website did come up for him. I’m hoping this is all about a little procrastination or such. i will send the invoice though, that is a good idea. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for posting this and thanks to the readers who responded. I heard a story about a blogger whose family photo from her blog was used in Europe for an advertising billboard — all without her permission. As a blogging community, we have to support each other in making sure we get credit where credit is due.

  4. That is an annoying situation. I would be very persistent with them as that is no way to do business. Keep at it and get the hotel involved of you need to. I hate t when stuff like this happens . It just makes me mad.

  5. So the ad exec had to have been hired by the hotel, right? I would go straight to the hotel and let them know what he’s done, and see if they can take it up with him. If they do nothing, I would not only blog with both Mr. exec’s name, but I would post his name and hotel on Twitter using #travel to get it to very many travel business people.

    • The ad guy’s relationship was with the big company. I need to see if i can find a contact there. The ad guy added me to linkedin and twitter so he’s probably bound to see this post.

  6. I’d be fearful of a lawsuit if posting his name. Perhaps he could be in breach of contract? Sorry, probably not helping you… My instinct is to contact my own law firm for a consultation on the situation.

  7. Hi Susan! This is terrible news and I’m so sorry that you’re having to go through this. I’d imagine that the contract was completed right? I like the idea of contacting the hotel as you already have a relationship with them. Then follow through as Ray mentioned. Best of luck to you!

  8. If you know the name of the “well-known” company, I would contact them as well, letting them know that the agency they hired has not paid you. Did your contract indicate when you were to receive payment (that is, within x days of event)?

    • I have thought of this and, if for no other reason, i would like to contact them to see if I can get my hands on the final product. Nothing about when payment would be received but that’s why I waited until now to post anything because we’re heading towards 2 months after the events date. It could be he hasn’t been paid yet but by now he should have or very close to it. And I am going to send an invoice to see if that generates any action. I really hate this because he seemed like a nice guy.

      • Let me add one or two more things. Often times, advertising or design agency waits for your invoice. Then they pay on a 30-60-90 approach. usually, if they are good clients you give them 90 days because you work with on a regular basis and you are helping their cash flow. In return, they give you work. New, or one time clients, usually get 30 days. In any case, as my corporate attorney always says, negotiate, don’t litigate… even if attorney’s fees are worth it. As long as you have contact info and take the steps that I originally suggested you should be fine. Getting your hands on the final product might be hard. I’m represented by Getty Images on a lot of stock sales. Even they can’t get tearsheets.

  9. Good luck…that’s a sticky situation. I agree with “Ray”…and echo what others have said.
    I’m not in business…so reading this is interesting to me also. I would have thought the fact that you had a contract was Enough! My son and DIL are both pro photographers. If I get any advice from them that’s different from what’s already here….I’ll add it on.
    My thoughts are with you. Sending energy and good wishes!

  10. Ha, you would laugh if you knew how many responses I’ve typed and deleted! My inner Elisa wants to fight everyone’s battles….I need to stop doing that!! Ultimately I think you should stay professional, and keep this ad “exec’s” name off your blog. I’d probably notify the hotel that there was a “miscommunication” with this agency and that you’d prefer not to do business with them in the future. Meanwhile, I’d continue to bill them, and send copies of your copyright information. Is there any way you could get a copy of the brochure that they printed?

    I’m sorry this happened to you. Not only are you extremely talented, but you have a wonderful and positive outlook on life. Don’t let this knucklehead get you down.


    • Thank you so much Elisa. And you nailed it, I hate feeling this way and part of me feels like a schmuck even bringing it up…but i also hate being dupped! I am going to invoice him and I’m going to see if I can somehow get a copy of the final copy. Thanks for your support.

  11. Definitely do the invoice thing. But I would go one step further – but then I’m a real bitch when someone I trusted screws me over. Along with the invoice, I would inform him that if he does not pay you be x-date then you will be writing an article and posting on your website about him, his lack of payment as well as not returning you emails. Just keep it square on the truth. If you have email dates, include those. Anything that is solid proof of your attempt to reach him and be paid for your work. Again… that’s me. In fact, I have an antique dealer that ripped me off and I need to write about her soon. But it will be more of a “what do you think” type posting…. Anyway, definitely invoice and organize all your attempts at trying to reach him.

  12. Did you talk about a prize for the pictures before? Or did this never come up in the discussion? He might have thought you would do it for free :/

  13. Susan, the simple reality of this, if you have signed a release form for the photos and you have received no compensation, I would hope that you have a contract for the use of the photos and the compensation to be given for use of these shots. IF you have not signed a release, and have no paper regarding compensation, then it will be a matter of copyright infringement. If this agency uses your shots without any permission, than you can take them to small claims without having to spend the money for a legal representation. Often times this is the best coarse of action. In addition I would also contact the resort and inform them that if they allow this add to be circulated without compensation on your end they could also face legal action. This way the facility would be likely to contact the agency on your behalf. Good luck and please keep the world posted. I personaly would like to know the name of this agency. Have been in this spot, and understand the complications. I provided shots to a publisher some time ago and we did have a verbal agreement regarding, and although mentioned in this publication, I never received any compensation for the photos. It was a painful lesson, but learning it early in my career was the best thing to happen. The old saying if you learn from a mistake, it wasn’t really a mistake.

    • Thanks for the information. I did have a contract that stated how much for each photograph he used. He has responded to the invoice I sent, on the advice of everyone here. Supposedly, a check is on it’s way. We’ll see. I will keep his name private unless nothing comes of this.

  14. i hope you sorted it, there is lot of dodgey stuff that can happen, i think it best that once you received payment form the purchaser, then release the images, check your contract for selling your image as stock etc, yes threaten legal action if you have to.

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