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Old March 31st, 2008, 12:24 AM   #1
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Photographer working under my company name

I have started up a wedding and event videography and I have this photographer and friend (close friend's boyfriend) that is interested in working under my company name. Basically I do all the business work, getting clients, paying the bills, and he gets to shoot and edit the photos. Eventually maybe handle all the photography side of the business. So far he has been working for free building his photo portfolio and I am using his photos for my website.

I was wondering what you guys think is a reasonable cut I should receive from the profit made from his photography. Would it be a percentage or a set amount of what is made from the client? For example, he said he wants eventually about no less than $1000 from a gig. If say $2-3000 profit is from the client how much is reasonable to deduct for me and the company? Keep in mind he'll be using my company name, not paying for a tax license, insurance, advertising, etc, basically being my employee but he'll be using his own equipment. Any help or ideas will be appreciated. I am interested what others come up with or what others are doing. Thanks.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 01:54 AM   #2
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I'd say be very careful here - it would be better to set this up as a "subcontractor" rather than an employee. Do some research, you'll understand why.

Unfortunately, perceptions of what is "reasonable" vary greatly, and are best put into writing so there are no surprises.

You're in some very sketchy areas here, and should consult an accountant at the least, and probably an attorney or paralegal to set things up to protect everyone properly. Set it up wrong, you could lose everything...
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Old March 31st, 2008, 08:56 AM   #3
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I'd say 50%. I'm considering a similar arrangement with a videographer for weddings, and that's the number I'm looking at.

Also don't assume your insurance will cover him. He's a subcontractor, and your liability insurance probably won't cover him.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 09:19 AM   #4
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I would advise you to take 200 dollars and sit down with a good business attorney and get their advice. You also may need to ask a tax attorney for your question.

I've been approached with a 'partnership' idea as well. I would only do it after consulting an attorney.

As for your original question for how much for the cut, I would think it might have something to do with who is bringing in the client. This is just one issue you need to have detailed on paper.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 03:14 PM   #5
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I agree with the contractor status.

I am also leary of of these type of arrangements.

It might work for a while, but after the dollar amounts go up, human nature kicks in and all of the sudden clients are being stolen and somebody is a "victim" and is not paid what they deserve ect...

That may be over-reacting, but maybe not. Just be careful and ask yourself how well do I know this person and do I want to risk my business to partner up with them.

If you pass this point, then take the necessary steps to protect yourself by writing it all down and have signatures.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 03:50 PM   #6
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Everyone is making very good points and I'm rethinking this arrangement. I think it would be best if I hire him as an employee (so that he's covered for liability) and have him only take pictures, I can edit them or he can. That's all he does from there, I own the pictures and do what the clients want with them. Also, I'll have one or two other photographers lined up (people I know) and tell him this is how much this gig will pay if he accepts good if not then I'll ask another photographer if they want the job.

I think this way there is less risk for me and less control for the photographer and I won't be depending solely on one photographer.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 04:06 PM   #7
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The IRS has a set of tests about how to tell an employee from a consultant or contractor and it is not a clear area (for one discussion see: http://www.techprose.com/contracts_1099_criteria.html ). Hiring employees is a big step because of the record keeping (tax withholding, worker's comp etc.) requirements.

You need to see an accountant and an attorney etc. Time spent getting it right now will solve major headaches down the road.

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Old March 31st, 2008, 04:55 PM   #8
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Photography is difficult when it comes to ownership of the photos.

I think technically, the one who snaps the shutter owns the copyright to the image.

Some research might be warranted to find out the exact situation for this as I could see this would be a major problem if things went off the track...

Also, contractor or employee is very important to distinguish between as well.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 05:47 PM   #9
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If this makes any difference the guy is a hobbyist and not a professional photographer.

Tim, you're right when the dollar amounts goes up, who knows what will happen then. Money makes people act funny.
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Old March 31st, 2008, 10:53 PM   #10
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I'm really torn in this situation. After research I think a subcontractor would now work best.
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Old April 1st, 2008, 01:24 AM   #11
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You can have multiple subs, "employees" can create a lot of headaches unless you LIKE bookeeping or know someone who does...

You can designate that the subs release all copyright to you, but again, you need legal and accounting reasearch if you're seriously into DIY, or pay someone before you make any decisions and get it written up so everyone understands the terms...
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Old April 1st, 2008, 06:20 AM   #12
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There is another potential negative in that other photographers may think of you as a threat rather than as a professional in a parallel service. This would remove them as a source of leads/referrals and they would tend to be less cooperative when you work beside them.

I would also be concerned about the potential liability exposure.
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Old April 1st, 2008, 06:20 PM   #13
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When I meant photographers I meant those capable of taking excellent pictures but don't have their own business, but your point may still hold true. Very good point, I did not take it into account.

For the liability exposure, do you mean the fact that they won't be covered under my liability insurance?
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Old April 1st, 2008, 07:24 PM   #14
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Yes. It would be a good idea to review the coverage with your insurance agent.
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Old April 10th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #15
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Copyright

Usually copyright is with the photographer. BUT . . .

If you are commissioned to take photographs, then the copyright is usually with the person who commissioned them unless you have something else agreed (preferably in writing). And you would be expected to hand over all photographs or film of the event etc.

So if you are paying another photographer to take the photos, you own the photos. Or your client does if that is what you agreed with the client. The other photographer would be either an employee, or a subcontractor.

I am told this applies in the US as well as the UK
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