1. What Is a Commercial Photography Contract?
2. A Guide to Writing a Photography Contract
3. The 5 W's
4. What kind of product or service will you be offering?
5. Does the client have responsibilities?
6. How is the final product delivered?
7. When are the payments due and what payment forms are acceptable?
8. Where Can I Find an Attorney to Help me With the Contract?

What Is a Commercial Photography Contract?

Commercial photography contracts are important for protecting both the photographer and the client in the event of a mishap and form the foundation for establishing and managing expectations.

A Guide to Writing a Photography Contract

First, it is important to differentiate between consumer and commercial photography clients. You need to identify which client you are catering to, which will then help you determine the type of contract template you will use.

You can draft a photography contract by following the simple steps below. An attorney could help you with some of these steps.

The 5 W's

The 5 W's of what, who, where, why, and when are the basic starting points in forming a photography contract. You should list the particulars of the photo shoot and pay keen attention to the date, location, and time of the shoot. Remember to indicate the contact details of the person who will greet you at the shoot or your on-site contact.

What kind of product or service will you be offering?

Ask your clients how they will use the photos you will be taking. You can do this as you negotiate your prices and rates. The answer the client will give you will help you determine the forms that the shoot will take, the prices you will set, and licensing fees.

For example, if the client would like the images to appear on a huge billboard, then you will shoot at maximum resolution. Conversely, if the client only needs the photos for personal use or social media, then you can opt to shoot in a regular-sized JPG format.

In some cases, clients may prefer the raw files for their personal use. You may find this choice inconvenient, for you may not want your original files under scrutiny or it may be difficult to transfer such a large file. You should, therefore, specify in the contract if the raw files will be accessible to the client or not.

Does the client have responsibilities?

Photography is often seen as a two-way street in which the photographer needs the client to cooperate to take a perfect shot and perform their job effectively. Indicate in the contract all the client's expectations during the photo shoot. For instance, a corporate event photographer may require the client to identify the important people that need to be photographed during the event.

The client may also help organize groups of people for specific shots. You may require a list of all the capturing that is required to make certain that you cover the list by the end of the event.

You should also include a clause that relieves you of any responsibilities if the client does not perform per the expected standard or if they fail to deliver on their responsibilities. Though this may seem like a cop-out, it is important to protect yourself because in some cases, things do not go as planned.

How is the final product delivered?

Your client will inform you of the type of photos they require. Your responsibility is to include a section in the contract to specify how you will ensure that the final photos reach the client. You should also include extra costs incurred such as additional hardware costs or mailing or shipping fees.

You can send large files to your client by:

  • CD, DVD, or USB Drive
  • Dropbox
  • WeTransfer
  • Online Photo Gallery for Clients

When are the payments due and what payment forms are acceptable?

Since everyone clearly wants to get paid, it is prudent to include payment terms in the contract. Explicitly reveal what payment terms you deem acceptable and include fees that you may charge. Requesting a partial deposit before you begin your work is a good way of ensuring that you get paid for your services.

Remember to indicate the deposit amount, its due date, and when the remaining amount is due.

Where Can I Find an Attorney to Help me With the Contract?

If you need help with your commercial photography contract, you can post your legal need in UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google.