Whether you’re shooting a wedding, fund-raising event, family reunion, or celebrity dinner, specifying what you’ll do on paper is crucial. This is where a photography contract comes in handy–it summarizes the terms and conditions of your photography gig.
An event photographer contract is a legal agreement that defines the services you’re going to provide to the client. It mentions the scope of work, price, date and time, the parties entering the transaction, and copyright particulars.
For instance, if you enter a contract with a client looking to photograph their child’s third birthday party, your contract may mention that you must provide several A2 prints and retouched digital files.
An event photography contract protects you from misunderstandings, such as a client claiming they’re entitled to more prints than agreed upon or them insisting on extra retouching.
It also creates a record of the terms of your photography gig and protects your copyrights. In many cases, if the dispute ends up going to court, you can recover your attorney fees (which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars) if it’s proven the client infringed on the copyright associated with the image.
You may also be entitled to statutory damages, which is a penalty that’s given to photographers whose work has been used without their permission. If the infringement was inadvertent, damages can range from $750 to $30,000 per asset. In the case of willful infringement, the fines can go up to $150,000 for each.
While this may be obvious, you need to include the complete contact information of both parties. This will make it easier for you to reach your client if you run into an issue.
Mentioning the starting date of your contract is also crucial. You want to mention the location and timeline of the project, too.
The description of work is the most crucial part of an event photography agreement. It mentions what you’ll deliver to the client, such as retouched photos, digital files, and art prints. Be specific in this section to make sure client expectations are realistic and aligned with what you plan to deliver.
Break down your payment schedule in this section. This includes the retainer and payment installment dates if you’re doing a large job. Also, be sure to mention the process for payment delays and any fees the client will accrue, such as interest on the outstanding balance.
Your cancellation policy will spell out the terms by which the client can cancel the contract, how much they’ll have to pay if they do, and what you’ll be responsible for returning (such as the deposit).
Try to cover various scenarios, such as medical emergencies, wedding cancellations, and dates being rescheduled, to create a comprehensive cancellation policy.
The copyright ownership section is another crucial part of the contract. Without it, you may not have permission to display your work on your profile, website, and portfolio.
Make sure you retain the copyrights to your work but grant your client use rights. This means you’ll own the photos you’ve shot for them, but they’ll be able to use them in promotional campaigns, real estate websites, wedding-specific social media pages and magazines, or in any other way that is outlined in the contract.
You can also transfer the copyright to your client if you want to and they pay you for those rights. Just make sure to use a copyright license agreement for photographic work and transfer template–and charge accordingly.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal doctrine that mandates that marriage-related and real estate agreements must be in writing and signed. This means you must sign a written contract if you’re taking pictures of a wedding or a home; any verbal agreement will have no legal value.
You must also sign a written contract if you’re selling goods or services worth $500 or more. This means that if you agree to provide $3,500 worth of photography services and have to deliver several sets of prints and a selection of files, you need to get the contract in writing beforehand.
Any job that can’t be performed within one year must be in writing. For instance, if you’re asked to photograph a wedding in December of the following year, you must have a written contract because the task is to be completed one year (or more) in the future.
Contract templates from The Contract Shop® have been pre-written by lawyers to cover all types of photography scenarios, such as outlining terms for family portraits with a family photographer contract, and you can easily modify them to fit your purposes.
You can draft an event photography contract on your own, but it might not hold up in court if there is a dispute. This is why it’s best to use photography contract templates from The Contract Shop®!
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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