Professional photography contracts are created to lay out the terms that are acceptable to the photographer and the client. They also clarify the resolution steps to any issues that may arise, such as copyright claims, cancellation, or terms of payment.

Information Needed for a Professional Photography Contract

When creating a professional photography contract, be sure to cover the guidelines listed below:

  • Include your name or the name of your photography business; the business address, including the state and the county; the phone number; and the email address, if applicable. Also, include areas where you can print your name and add your signature.
  • You will need the same information for the client (e.g., name, address, contact information, and place for the printed name and signature).
  • Include a start and finish time. It's important to allow yourself a set and agreed upon exit time. For example, eight hours is usually enough time to capture an array of photographs at a wedding. 
  • Along with the contract stating a start and stop time, also include what the charge will be for any additional time you agree to that goes beyond the stop or finish time.
  • Include the overall cost of the photo shoot. How you determine the cost is up to you. You may choose to charge a flat fee or charge by the hour. There's also the option of charging a flat fee for part of the shoot, such as set up time; then charge an hourly fee for the remainder of the shoot.
  • Be clear and specific about the money portion of the contract. A signed and dated contract by both parties eliminates any disputes because everything is cleared outlined and agreed to, unlike a verbal agreement. 
  • Include every scenario involved with a photo shoot in the overall cost. Clearly define each of these areas in the contract, such as requesting additional photos or if the client asks you to deliver the photos.
  • Do not leave anything to chance or tell the client you will adjust for charges after the fact. The client has a copy of the contract he or she agreed to. Anything after the fact is verbal and can be disputed. This leads to a loss of time and money.
  • Outline the terms of payment clearly. Approach the issue of payments by requiring a deposit upfront. The deposit amount and the date the deposit is due is included in the contract. Once paid, provide the client with a receipt, and keep a copy for your records. 
  • Include the date(s) the remaining payment(s) are due in the contract.
  • Include that a late fee will be imposed if the payment is not received by the due date. State how much the charge will be for each day the payment is late. 
  • State what is provided to the client, such as a minimum number of photos, delivery time, a DVD with copies of the digital images, or whether you will only be supplying printed images.
  • Explain copyright and ownership of images in the contract.

Advantages of Professional Photography Contracts

Whether you're an established photographer or just starting out, it's important you don't overlook the business and legal aspects. 

A basic contract protects you and your business. A clearly defined contract helps eliminate any potential issues between:

  • You, the owner.
  • The photographer, if other than yourself.
  • The client. 

Having a contract makes it more efficient and easy to get paid for your services in a timely manner and for the full amount.

Photography contracts can be used for photographers who provide freelance or contract photography services to clients. Providing professional photography services to public and private clients can be involved.

Photography contracts also ensure a client's happiness and your business's well-being, especially if you experience situations such as camera equipment failures, illnesses, or even moody clients.

Contracts add a sense of formality, which can invoke positive or negative reactions. A family member or friend may be offended if you present a contract, whereas a new client will most likely appreciate the formal gesture of a contract and the protection it provides to everyone.

Common Photography Contracts

The following are examples of photography contracts you may need to use in your business:

  • Model release contract (adult)
  • Model release contract (minor)
  • Photo session agreement
  • License of Rights for Photography
  • Property release
  • Portrait photography agreement
  • Wedding photography
  • Gallery contract for sale of photography
  • Equipment rental agreement
  • General photography contract
  • Real estate photography contract
  • Second shooter contract.

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