Photography contracts are legally binding agreements made between a photographer and a client, customer, model, or other party regarding the professional services of the photographer. 

Ins and Outs of Photography Contracts

In order to be sure that clients are happy with their photos, photography contracts are essential to any photo shoot session. 

Customers who hire photographers can benefit from using the photography contract to detail exactly what they want from the photographer, from where and how photos are taken to the amount of prints desired and when they will be completed. 

Photography contracts can include terms of payment and any contingencies to allow for additional prints or redo sessions in the case of poor weather or sickness. 

Those hiring photographers should use photography contracts to ensure they get what they want. Photographers should use photography contracts to protect their time and work as independent contractors or business owners. 

Contracts of any kind are meant to outline the expectations, rights, and responsibilities of the involved parties in order to help avoid and resolve any conflicts.

Contracts that are clearly laid out and agreed upon also help to avoid miscommunication between contractors, in this case, photographers and their clients. 

Weddings regularly involve photography contracts, but the planner of any major event should have a contract in place with their photographer. 

Photography contracts work best when they are completely straightforward, simple, and clear about the expectations of both sides. 

Clients and professional photographers are both well-protected under a good photography contract if an unexpected problem occurs.

Most professional photographers use templates for their contracts, but they should still know the basics of contract writing in order to most understand their business, and what they promise to their clients. 

Common Photography Contracts

There are many different types of photography contracts:

  • Model release contracts
  • Photo session agreements 
  • Rights to photos
  • Property release
  • Wedding photography
  • Gallery sales
  • Equipment rental
  • Long-form and short-form
  • Real estate 
  • Photo license
  • Second shooter

Model release contracts differ depending on the age of the model. If they are an adult, they can sign the contract to give rights to the photographer for their image. If the model is a minor, the parent or guardian of the child will need to sign in place of the model. 

If a photographer is hired by a record label to shoot a recording artist, they will need a photo session agreement contract in order for the photos to be printed in a publication.

Once photos are taken for a client, the photographer will need to give license of rights for the photos if they want the client to be able to print the photos themselves legally.

If a photographer uses any props or conducts a photo shoot on someone's land, they will need a property release contract in order to legally be allowed to use someone's property in their photos.

Portrait agreements are created for any portrait photo shoots to show agreement between the client and photographer for the session. 

Weddings can be one of the most difficult types of jobs for a professional photographer, so a wedding photography contract should be used in order to keep everyone happy and protected from liability.

If a photographer wants to sell their work in an art gallery, they'll need a gallery contract for sale of their photography in which the artist agrees to the terms of the gallery in exchange for the gallery displaying their work and hopefully selling it.

Many photographers rent their equipment, especially for major events, so equipment rental contracts are vital to protecting the photographer and the gear they borrow.

Long-form photography contracts are perfect for photo shoots for newborns, senior pictures, engagement photos, and other regular photo sessions. These contracts will be very detailed to make sure everything is covered. 

Short-form contracts are less detailed than long-form and can be used if a photographer doesn't feel the need for a big contract for a smaller shoot.

Anytime a photographer does real estate photography, they'll need a specific real estate contract because of the specificity of the work. 

If a photographer sells a photo to any business to be used on the internet, the photographer will need a photo licensing agreement to be sure that their work is used only in the ways that they want it to be used.

Sometimes photographers will use assistants for bigger gigs, like weddings, so they'll want a second shooter contract to clearly lay out ownership and usage of all photos from the event. 

If you need help with photography contracts, you can post your job on 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.