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Professional Practice Hack: Build Into Your Contracts The Right To Photograph Your Work



Sometimes clients start to exhibit gate-keeping tendencies as a project nears completion. It starts slowly and may be the symptom of construction fatigue, but can evolve to the point of seriously affecting your ability to grow your firm. They slowly morph into an ugly troll blocking you from crossing a bridge into your company’s future. At that moment, they literally have your future in their hands.

At the end of the day, people are weird. Remember that. As an Architect, you need to protect the interests of your Client but you also need to protect yourself by reducing the ability of a Client to hurt your architecture company. This can happen in various ways, but a Client preventing their Architect from photographing their work is the epitome of this.

Access that is assumed, could end up in serious disappointment with far-reaching negative consequences. At the end of the day, structure your contracts to guarantee this type of access. Otherwise, your work may be lost. All those late nights, creative musings, pots of coffee, client meetings, and just plain hard work, could prove to be fruitless if you don’t structure things to protect this access and representation. Unless an NDA has been signed, and “no access” was a standard of employment, you cannot afford to go years putting together a project and then not be allowed to photograph your work.

Contracts are enforced in court, and may introduce unnecessary costs and inconveniences. We’ve have started to take it one step further and require a “Media Deposit.” This is an amount of money that will sit in an escrow account and be returned once the client grants media capture. Money is a powerful controlling force for most people. Make sure the amount is commensurate with the effort. Don’t be afraid to say the “Media Deposit” is $30,000.00. If a seemingly “high end” client balks at this, then walk away from the job altogether and find somebody that values what you do. You cannot work your life away and have people decide they “just don’t feel like it” in the 11th hour.

This is part of our Stewardship Series where we give insight into our industry for aspiring professionals and business owners alike.

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