A commercial photography contract is likely to be the longest that photographers will see. You’re typically completing a project for a corporation, and your images are going to be used for anything from internal training materials to multi-million dollar ad campaigns.
With that much money on the line, you can be sure a commercial photography contract will be filled with clauses that protect both the photographer and the company.
Making sure you get your words right is important with a commercial client, and you can expect them to suggest a change or two to the contract to make sure they get what they want. A few clauses are especially complex when dealing with a commercial client.
Plainly put, the ‘scope of work’ simply refers to what work will be performed by the photographer. Stating, “The photographer will take images at the event” is very vague. Be sure and list what hours you will be working, what the client wants you to focus your lens on, how many images are to be provided to the client, and if post-production editing will be provided.
In many photography contracts, the photographer retains the copyrights to the photos, and the usage rights stipulate that the photos may not be sold or used to make money without the photographer’s express permission. With commercial shoots, however, you’ll typically retain the copyrights, while specifying how the client may use your photos for the process of making money.
Usage rights are a key reason why you need a photographer agreement contract template that is clear and understandable. It’s important that the contract states how and when the corporation may use your images and in what format. Saying “for advertising purposes” can mean your photo could be used for a one-time Instagram ad campaign or used in a Super Bowl ad, which is a world of difference.
Some corporations may request that they own the copyright to the photos. In this case, expect to charge the client much more. Think carefully when a client requests this, and consider the possible impacts on your reputation, as you will no longer have control of how those images are used.
Indemnity clauses are designed to protect one or both parties in case something unforeseen happens. This could be something simple, such as lost equipment, or something serious, like a client including copyrighted materials in the photos that the client had no permission to use.
You may find yourself in court defending yourself if you didn’t have an indemnity clause that states the client is responsible for any props used beyond the product that is the centerpiece of the shoot.
It’s imperative you learn how to protect yourself with your contracts, just as you have to learn how to protect yourself if your photography client cancels. Contracts are complicated but necessary. Remember, when working with corporations, their legal team will likely write the contract, so make sure you read the fine print!
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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