Contract Between Photographer and Client

Contract Between Photographer and Client

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.

The Importance of a Legally Binding Photography Contract

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.

Common Issues Experienced By Photographers

Although not exhaustive, the below list summarizes some of the typical hurdles photographers may need to deal with from time to time:

  • Non-payment of fees when the photography services and prints or digital files have already been delivered
  • Failing to respond to demands for payment or refusing to engage with late payment requests
  • Unfair complaints about the quality of the service or claims that the services delivered are not as originally agreed
  • Reproducing or distributing photos belonging to the photographer without their permission, which breaches copyright rules

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.

Creating a Professional Contract for Photography Services

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.

What to Include in Your Photography Contract

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:

  • Names and contact details for both parties, whether a private individual or a commercial business
  • The dates, times, and locations of agreed shoots
  • A summary of the services you have offered to deliver and the exact value payable in return for those services
  • Cancellation policies, explaining whether any part of a deposit is refundable, and the deadlines for cancellations where relevant
  • Payment schedules setting out the due date for a deposit or retainer, staged payments, or the final balance, as well as what happens if the client does not pay, such as an interest penalty for payments over ten days late

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
Kevin Gallagher

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.

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