Who Should Pay for the Reshoot?

At some point, we all mess up a photoshoot. It is part of being a photographer. However, when money comes into play, it can really complicate things. This is how I feel we should deal with the cost of reshoots in various situations.

Photoshoots can go wrong for a myriad of reasons, including bad styling, the subject not being on form, acts of God, technical issues, poor briefing, incorrect briefing, through to us as photographers simply not producing the goods on the day. And the latter will happen to all of us at some point. The important thing is to make sure that you handle the situation correctly for your reputation, client, and your own business finances. A photoshoot can be incredibly expensive to recreate once you take everyone's fees into consideration, so it is important to know what the right thing to do is. 

In this video, I cover a few scenarios as to what can go wrong on a shoot and with whom the financial responsibility should be. Although contracts cover a lot of this, there is more to business than following the paperwork to the letter. It's a small industry, and often, if you upset one major agency, the word can get out. Although, good agencies are also aware of this and do not want to get a bad reputation from photographers, as it may harm them being able to book good talent for future jobs. 

How would you handle the situations covered in this video, and what is the worst shoot you have ever been a part of?

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Lee Christiansen's picture

I was told by a client once that my rate was too high because they needed to keep something in reserve for a reshoot. Should have seen their faces when I asked what a reshoot was because I'd never done one.

Well in 25 years that's not true now, because I did do one reshoot - and the client paid in full.

If it is my fault, then I'll reshoot for no cost. But I won't cover costs of models assistants etc. (For reasons below).

If it is anything else then the client pays.

In the good old days, clients would be wise enough to take out production insurance. They tend not to now because they've worked out it is more cost effective to carry the cost when it is needed.

Clients don't give proper briefs, they change their minds, they bring in talent that isn't "talent." There are a million and one things that can go wrong. I'm not being paid enough to carry the responsibility for all that extra guff. If I am paid enough then I'll carry the can - but part of my rate will go towards production insurance.

Many photographers provide an all encompassing service, which includes booking the location and all crew. I'm happy to recommend crew and locations. I'm happy to help arrange things. But when money (and responsibility) are exchanged then I choose not to carry more than just me.

Of course with the licensing model, if a photographer brings in all the services under his umbrella, then it can be lucrative when calculating that % for use against production costs. And I guess that would cover the risks... let's just hope it doesn't go south in the early shoots of a career.

I guess the worst shoot that went wrong was when we had a full TV crew flying from the UK to France on a chartered plane, which waited on the tarmac for our return a few hours later. When we arrived at the French location, all raring to go, our interviewee decided he didn't want to talk to the camera - and no amount of prodding would change his mind. That was an expensive day out. Glad I wasn't carrying that one. :)

Contracts are important for professional work. But possibly more important is who is actually paying who - because that often defines where responsibility lies. (My contract even suggests quite strongly that production insurance should be taken - useful for demonstrating that the client has been advised before everything goes south.)

chrisrdi's picture

Some good wisdom here. Thanks for sharing.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Oh I've just remembered on crazy job which didn't have a reshoot but did have some rather severe cropping...

I was shooting for an ad campaign and had been given a set of images as a style brief. Simple enough - lifestyle images, (Landscape orientation), space to the side to allow graphics... usual stuff.

Their art director attended the shoot personally. I shoot tethered so the director can see exactly what I'm shooting. It was going well and very single shot was approved on the spot - great stuff.

But then I get a call a few days later. "They're all the wrong shape" came the complaint.

Bemused, I asked why and was told they needed to be "tall" for a magazine page. (So portrait orientation and not the landscape orientation I'd had in all the style sheets and for all the shots on the day with a very specific art director).

I mentioned this, and also remarked that the art director had seen and approved every frame I'd taken - which were all in landscape.

"Oh yes" they said. "He did see and approve the images as you shot them, but he though they'd be different when we got them..."

Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up. :)

Cool Cat's picture

I'm a little confused. My bad? In your second paragraph you mentioned "portrait orientation, space to the side to allow graphics". So why shoot in landscape? Did I miss something? Anyhow, was there a reshoot and who paid for it?

Lee Christiansen's picture

Oops... my bad. Sorry about that.
I meant "Landscape" in the second paragraph. I'll edit to correct. :)

There wasn't a reshoot. Instead some creative cropping from landscape to portrait and a redesign for the graphics to fit. (Thank goodness for lots of pixels). They paid in full as they quickly realised it was their error. (Junior team put in charge of major projects, with few knowing much about anything).

I worked with them often and I usually managed to catch problems in advance - like the one which had a schedule of 24 1/2 hr shoots in a 7 hr day... solved apparently by having me in multiple locations simultaneously several times in the day. (A feat they managed a second time for the next project with the same client).