April 17th, 2016
My husband just started his real estate photography business. A Realtor hired him to take photos of a listing, which he did. This Realtor requested he send the photos right away and was very anxious to post them on the listing because they had scheduled an open house for that weekend. The Realtor has posted the photos on the listing but has not yet paid. After “I’ll send a check”,” I’ll send you a PayPal”:…,no payment. There was no licensing agreement because he was in such a rush…. Who do these photos belong to and can the photographer (my husband) request they be taken offline due to non payment of the temporary rights?
This is a classic real estate photography problem! Simplify your life and take payment at the shoot. The best way to do this is with Squareup.com which allows you to take credit cards on site. This is the easiest approach for everyone involved.
As an alternative, Squareup.com or PayPal or other services allow you to send invoices and get paid BEFORE you deliver the photos.
Yes, you legally own the photos even if there’s no licensing agreement but getting the Realtor to take down the photos would probably be more difficult than getting them to pay. They may just be sloppy with their business practices. You should keep after them (nicely) to pay. After a month or so you could escalate the issue by contacting the Realtor’s managing broker of their office. Real estate office managers want their agents to be good business people. So this frequently fixes the problem but not always. As this experience will teach you, life is simpler if you get payment before delivery.