The Whole 9 Yards: When is a booking a Booking?

by Heather on March 31, 2010

From W9Y Captain Kendra V:

This next frustration seems to have come up a bit lately and so, when an assistant emailed me about it I thought it was a great idea for the next posting.

Now, during my short time in our industry I have realized that if a photographer books a shoot with a client and the client cancels, the photographer (as long as it has been stated on their estimate) is entitled up to 50% of the total estimate depending on the timeframe before the shoot is cancelled. That said, should the stylists, producers, make-up artists, assistants and the rest of the suppliers also receive the same 50% of their fee? Or, are photographers lucky enough to receive the full cancellation fee just because they hold the purse strings? What if the shoot is a creative? Does this make a difference to the suppliers?

When is a booking a booking and a hold a hold?

Let’s hear from the assistant:

When is a booking a booking and a hold a hold? I lost $600 last year because I was “booked” on a creative with a very successful shooter. Not only did I turn down another gig with a regular photographer who I adore but I was let go the night before the shoot! I mentioned my loss to the producer and we AGREED I would charge three half days and that would be the end of it. After four months of getting the complete run around from the studio I finally got a hold of the photographer and he couldn’t have been a bigger dick. He acted bewildered and how dare I charge him for a creative that never got shot! I tried to explain what happened and as an assistant $600 clams is a lot money. I never got paid.

I still think the dudes work is amazing but man oh man what a douchebag.

I can only imagine living job to job, how frustrating it is for a job to be cancelled last minute and you get diddly-squat; especially if you turned down another job to take it. I think in this sense, I have to agree with the supplier. If the photographer is receiving the money and could pay the suppliers, they should share the love instead of pocketing it for themselves.

Heather has asked me to include images (from photographers unassociated with the postings!) in The Whole 9 Yards from now on, so.. on the topic of frustration I have chosen an image from Sandy Nicholson that to me emulates what it feels like to want to scream or bury your hands in your head! To see more of Sandy’s fabulous work please visit his website here or through his representation, Klaxonnez.

© Sandy Nicholson

And don’t forget, send your W9Y contributions to I know we’ve been slacking off here for a couple of weeks but we’re back in action.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

David April 1, 2010 at 7:57 am

That’s why the photographer’s paperwork should stipulate not just that he/she is owed 50% of the fee, but also any expenses incurred up to the point of cancellation. That includes assistants and anyone else who bills the photographer a fee for canceled shoots.

Matt April 1, 2010 at 11:43 am

Echoing what David said, I always stipulate ” x-y-z % of fees, plus all incurred expenses”. My photo team is valuable to me and I understand their situation wholeheartedly; cancellation affects us all equally.

bill April 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm

if you turned down work then you should be getting paid for at least the amount you lost. When I get called about another gig when i am already booked I call who I am booked with to double check the job is still a go and let them know that I had another job offer. this is basically a notice that if the job cancels I am owed my pay.

MT April 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Ideally, each assistant would give me some kind of T&C, in writing, on how they want to work. I can’t get involved in subjectivity of “only paying them a cancel fee if they turned down work” or not. It’s got to be more clear, and more above board than that. I don’t have a firm rule, but in general, if I cancel and assistant about 48-72 hours in advance, I’d like not be billed for it, (whether they turned down a job or not). I know that’s loose, but loose is as tight as it gets, due to the fact that no assistant has taken it upon themselves to inform me of their policies. The only exception to this is cancellation for weather; maybe a fast approaching rainstorm that killed a day. I’d like not to be billed for rain, ie beyond my control. In short, it is the responsibilit of the makeup artist, or stylist, or assistant, to outline THEIR terms, but in advance of the job; not leaving it subjectivity and drama, after the fact.

Daniel Bergeron April 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

As a photo assistant, I am pretty upfront about my T&C, and also include it on my invoices. I’ve never had an issue with kill fees, but I also don’t always enforce it. I’ve found it an easy way to show flexibility, and create some good will. FWIW- My terms are: Cancel<48hrs = %50, Cancel < 24hrs= %100.

Speaking of T&C, I've noticed a lot of photographers seem to play by the rules, at their own convenience. Especially over the past year. It is frustrating, for sure.

MT April 2, 2010 at 10:35 pm

@ Daniel: Seems very reasonable to me. And great that you post it on your Invoices.

The key thing here: To remove it entirely from “work you turned down”, and simply make it “this is my policy”.

To attach it to “work turned down” would be like me, as a photographer, booking a job with Client 1, and then after that job is booked and solid, then Client #2 calls me with a job that pays a higher Creative Fee. So what would i do: add on the difference in what I “lost” to the fee for Client 1? No way.

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