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What Forms Should a Photographer Have?

What Forms Should a Photographer Have?

Contracts for photographers are an essential aspect of running a business, providing legal protection against liability, disputes, or late payments. You may need several forms if you're setting up a new photography firm, including contracts, release forms, and other separate terms and conditions, depending on the services you intend to offer.

Why do photographers have contracts? A binding agreement ensures a client knows what the service includes, what it will cost, and their rights, without any potential for confusion about whether a deposit payment is refundable and the additional fees they may incur if they ask for extra services.

Essential Forms for a Professional Photographer

A comprehensive contract is the most important documentation you should have. What are the four requirements for a valid photography contract? Contractual forms should state what the service is, who the parties to the agreement are, their respective entitlements, and the payment terms (such as the proportion payable as an upfront deposit and when the balance falls due).

Contracts are the norm in service-based businesses and act as an easy way to manage expectations and communicate the terms of the photography service. If you offer varied photography services, you will likely need a different contract for each, such as a customizable template for wedding photography, a standard terms and conditions contract for commercial headshots or business shoots, and another for individual portraits, new baby, or family photo sessions.

Other Paperwork Required for Photography Businesses

Alongside a detailed contract, photographers may also require additional forms, depending on the types of photography they offer:

  • Model release forms: This is a contractual document for professional models, giving the photographer the right to use their image for the intended purpose.
  • Licensing agreements: Photographers may offer contractual licenses which permit clients the right to use photos for a certain period or for publication online or within their marketing materials.
  • Usage rights documents: Similar to licensing, usage rights agreements outline the ability of the client to retain, reprint, and copy the photographer’s work, although this is normally incorporated into the main contract.
  • Invoices and receipts: Branded financial documents such as receipts, invoices, and billing statements provide a professional communications basis and ensure clients are comfortable making payments to the business.

Some photographers may also require insurance documentation or formal approval to shoot in restricted access locations or on private land, or may need commercial clients to commit to agreements around insurance coverage during their time at the shoot location.

Variables in Photography Forms and Contracts

Photography paperwork requirements can depend on whether the business is an incorporated company or the photographer works as a freelance professional. It is important to verify whether sales taxes apply in your area, in which case these should be shown on invoices and included in your contract's fees section.

For example, you could state a fee per shoot, day, or hour and should clarify whether this includes applicable taxes or is subject to an extra cost, with the tax itemized on your invoices.

In some cases, a client may also request a separate confidentiality agreement. This normally applies where the subject of the photo shoot is commercially sensitive or because a private client wishes to guarantee anonymity and that their images will not be used in a publicly accessible photography portfolio.

Whichever forms, agreements, and contracts you use should always be tailored to the client, specifying their name, the date and nature of the services they have booked, and the details of fees, payment dates, and inclusions. Contracts should clearly explain how clients can cancel or change the photography services they have ordered, the copyright rules, and the payment terms, normally split into an initial deposit and final payment or sometimes as a staggered payment plan for ongoing services.

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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