Setting up a new business as a photographer can be equally challenging and exciting, but ensuring you have everything in place, from professional insurance to advertising, will improve your chances of success.
One of the most important pieces of paperwork you will need is a photography contract, setting out the services you are providing, the associated fees, and protecting your rights around image reproductions and copyright ownership.
Contracts are a standard requirement in thousands of professions and are as necessary for photography as any other. While in the ideal world, every client would be trustworthy, communicative, and pay on time, unfortunately, that isn't always the case.
Photographers can be exposed to myriad risks that can impact their finances, the liquidity of their business, and their reputation–all of which can be solved with a high-quality, customized contract.
Although not exhaustive, the below list summarizes some of the typical hurdles photographers may need to deal with from time to time:
Do photographers get paid before or after a shoot? Contracts usually state a non-refundable session fee or deposit payable in advance, followed by the balance on delivery.
This simple solution means that your time and income are protected, even if the client cancels and you cannot fill the slot originally allocated to their booking.
Your contract is a formal, legally valid document. If your client does not pay or a conflict arises, you can use your contract as evidence of the services agreed upon and the amount owing; you can even pursue this through the courts in the most extreme scenarios.
The easiest option is to use one of our specialized, adaptable contract templates, drafted in collaboration with accredited legal advisers, to ensure the format, language, and inclusions are comprehensive.
Isn't a booking form or an email correspondence enough? Sadly, it isn't, because informal dialogues or booking forms don't have the depth of content to provide legal protection or liability coverage.
For example, you could have agreed to deliver a shoot, producing one hundred images, on a set day and for a mutually agreed price. However, if the client cancels at the last minute or refuses to pay, your booking form doesn't hold the same status as a formal, signed contract between the parties.
While you can run through each section within our templates to tailor the documentation to your photography business, it may be useful to have an overview of the essential areas any contract should cover:
Finally, you should include the copyright ownership conditions and the terms under which you will transfer usage rights to your client. Most photographers own all the images they produce but transfer permission to their clients to use the photos, although this should be clearly explained to avoid confusion.
Kevin Gallagher is the CEO of The Contract Shop®, a contract template store for creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, coaches, and more. His background is in helping online businesses grow, having previously worked at Allbirds managing part of their operations. He is proud to report that his digital artist wife Mandy is a happy customer of The Contract Shop®, and his main motivation is to help as many people like her as possible with the tools that they need to confidently manage their businesses.
Comments will be approved before showing up.