When My Client Didn’t Pay Me…

Note – This was an email sent to our subscribers (buyers of our online courses) on Monday, 10th June 2024.


Today I want to tell you about a funny story from one of the food photography shoots I did for a restaurant in Pune a couple of years back.

Whenever I do a professional shoot, I charge 50% upfront and the remaining half I get before I hand over the shots to the client.

Usually this works well for me and for the client as well since both parties are assured of the benefits.

But this time something unfortunate happened.

This one-day shoot was worth Rs.25,000 and after I finished this long shoot at their location, the client still owed me Rs.12.5k.

What was different this time was that I casually transferred the photos on the clients USB drive, thinking that there is no way such a big restaurant would have any issues when it comes to the payment.

I was wrong!

The owner made a sad face and informed me that their restaurant was new and their revenue in the past few months wasn’t as expected.

My heart sank! Not for the restaurant, but because I knew I wasn’t going to get paid.

I had traveled almost 40 km carrying all the camera gear, lights and backdrops, so this was a bummer!

I wasn’t going to accept this.

Now I am the type of guy I avoid any kind of confrontation unless absolutely necessary. So I decided to do something else.

An idea popped up in my head where I could use my photography knowledge to find a jugaadAdobe Lightroom was going to come to my rescue.

I ended up doing something absolutely crazy.

I told him – That’s fine. No issues. But at least let me show you my editing style so you know what you can expect when you receive the final photos.

He said ok.

I opened up my laptop and started Lightroom. I plugged in his USB drive and then imported the photos into Lightroom and started showing some basic edits. And then I did the CRAZY thing.

In Lightroom, I went to the folders section and deleted the entire folder. What a lot of people don’t know is that when you delete the imported folder in Lightroom, it deletes the folder from the main storage location also, i.e, the USB drive in this case. This is why in my Lightroom Workflow and Organization course, I tell people to never work with folders in Lightroom and instead use Collections.

Because I deleted the folder in Lightroom and not from the original location, the client could not understand this even though he was looking at the laptop right when I did this.

I then gave him back the USB drive and left their location.

A few hours after I was home, I got the expected call – Is main toh koi photos nahi hai? (There are no photos here)

I couldn’t help but smile. The plan had worked. Then I explained him what I did and of course he got a bid mad. But ultimately he decided to pay the remaining amount and then I sent him the photos. I knew he would pay because if there’s one thing I know from my experience, it is that NO ONE wants to give up their photos.

In India (and many other countries), people still take photographers for granted. So you’ve got to be ruthless when it comes to collecting payments. The lesson here was to never be in that situation in the first place. Never part with the photos till you’ve got paid. Or simply take the entire amount upfront.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts.


Kush Sharma

Creative Pad Media

About the Author

portrait photographer for portfolio shoot in pune

Hi there, I'm Kush Sharma, the founder of Creative Pad Media, an organization dedicated to simplifying photography and videography education.

We have over 40 online courses that cover various genres in photography & videography, catering to both beginners as well as professionals. These courses are available via Udemy.com. Our courses have been downloaded in over 170 countries.

I hope to see you inside a course very soon!

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