The second anniversary of the Freelance Isn't Free law is coming up on May 15, and we're celebrating with your success stories. To help us provide a pathway for more freelancers to use the law, share your experience at

As a photographer in Los Angeles, I’ve worked with many clients on the East Coast and elsewhere to create sun-drenched images of Southern California to enhance their campaigns.So when an advertising agency in New York City contacted me last fall to create social imagery for a widely-recognized fashion label, I agreed. I was asked to photograph several billboards around Los Angeles in a creative, street-scene style to use on the label’s social media accounts.

The budget was set at $250 per billboard with no edits — a fairly standard rate for that kind of work.The agency paid me for the first two sets within days of delivery, and a little while later they hired me to photograph two additional sets. I delivered those with my invoice the next day, according to deadline.

Payment was slow the second time around, though. Not wanting to irritate anyone at the agency as I was hoping to establish an ongoing relationship with them, I waited and followed up the next week. They told me that they were in the process of moving their office and that things were hectic; their response felt like the late payment had simply been an oversight due to unusual chaos.

So, I waited. And followed up … again, and again. Finally, the client stopped responding altogether, and the woman who managed their accounting department seemed to be eternally “out of the office.” As a subscriber to the Freelancer’s Union newsletter, I was aware of the Freelance Isn’t Free law and knew what to do. When the payment was 30 days late, I filed a complaint and copied the client on the email.

It was an impressively easy, quick, and free process. A few days later the client suddenly paid the invoice. A short while after the payment was finally made, they reached out to ask if I could photograph another billboard on what was expected to be an unusually rainy day in Los Angeles — possibly to protect themselves from accusations of retaliation under Freelance Isn’t Free’s anti-retaliation provisions.

I asked if I could photograph it on a different day due to the weather, and never heard back. Regardless, I’m thankful to have had the option of filing a complaint, as I may have had no realistic recourse otherwise. The simple act of filing the complaint, coupled with the potential penalties associated with Freelance Isn’t Free violations, were enough to elicit a response when no amount of follow-ups had been.

Even with contracts in place, recovering a missed payment requires time and money that many freelancers simply don’t have. I firmly believe that laws like Freelance Isn't Free should be in place across the country. When a freelancer spends time creating work for a client, they should be paid for it. It really is as simple as that.

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