These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your photography business safe and successful for years to come!
Photography contracts are a literal must-have
While most photographers will never be sued, all photographers do eventually experience difficulty with a client. Will your conflicts get resolved with little fanfare, or will they escalate to court-worthy proportions? That depends almost entirely on what you agreed to in writing.
Not using contracts? Here’s what can happen:
“Early in my business, a really sweet lady booked my four-hour package for her daughter’s backyard wedding.
This package was really only meant for small weddings, but I guess I didn’t communicate that very well—and of course I didn’t use a contract. Turns out their house was more like a mansion, and their back yard was huge. There must have been 300 guests there!
I spent four hours running myself ragged trying to capture everything, but the couple still complained that I didn’t take all the photos they wanted. And I’d only been paid $800. Worst mistake ever!”
You need a contract created by an attorney
Known industry-wide as TheLawTog, photographer-turned-attorney Rachel Brenke knows the dangers of working without photography contracts all too well.
Rachel regularly hears stories from photographers who have been devastated by a legal settlement that was not in their favor—all because they didn’t have a legally binding, lawyer-approved photography contract.
In the ShootProof Marketplace, you’ll find a wide variety of TheLawTog’s photography contracts. They’re crafted just for photographers and offered to ShootProof pros at a discounted rate!
Here’s what you’ll find:
- Wedding Photography Contract
- Portrait Photography Contract
- Boudoir Photography Contract
- Newborn Portrait Photography Contract
- Senior Portrait Photography Agreement
- Pet Photography Contract
- Commercial Photography License
- Second Shooter Agreement
- Third Party Payer Agreement
- Model Releases
- Hair & Makeup Artist Agreement
- Date Amendment and Force Majeure Bundle [FREE!]
“But do I always need a contract?”
Rachel Brenke says YES. Photography contracts protect both you and your client by making clear who is responsible for what. In fact, contracts can actually protect you from having to go to court! Sometimes a quick review of the signed contract is all that’s needed to straighten out a misunderstanding.
Why do I need the Commercial Photography License?
Be honest: have you ever used a wedding or portrait contract for a commercial client? A few light edits, and ta-da! You’re ready to shoot the next Nike campaign! Or are you…?
“The Commercial Photography License includes language targeted directly at the needs of a commercial photographer and their client,” explains Rachel. “They help clarify your client’s rights as well as your own.”
Copyright infringement is one of the biggest areas of concern for commercial shooters. Enforcing your copyright can be tough when you’re faced with a big-budget client, but the right documentation can help you make your case.
Why do I need the Second Shooter Agreement?
Unfortunately, disputes can arise between photographers and their associate shooters because there’s no clear agreement in place. Remember: photography contracts should be used for every action related to your client services.
“I hired a friend to second-shoot a big corporate event with me. It didn’t even occur to me to have a contract with my friend!
After I sent the photos to my client, they emailed me and complained that they didn’t get all the pictures. Turns out, my second shooter had posted some of their own photos from the event and tagged my client. This wouldn’t have been the worst, except that some of them were pictures I didn’t include in my client’s gallery because they weren’t as good as the ones I had taken.
My client didn’t see it that way, though. They just thought I was just holding out on them. It really sucked.”
Rachel offers her Second Shooter Agreement through the ShootProof Marketplace so you can enjoy the second shooter experience—not dread it.
“It’s best to even put even casual conversations in writing,” shares Rachel. “If a court case ever arises regarding a customer’s expectations about your work, and you can show an email proving that you had a conversation about it, you will be well ahead of the game.”
Have two clients? Get two signatures.
ShootProof Contracts were originally crafted to allow a single client signature. But for many of you, that just wasn’t enough! Those who want two clients to sign a single contract may choose to use the Second Signer feature.
How would you use this? Here are a couple of examples:
- Require a signature from both partners on their wedding photography contract.
- Get signatures from both your 18-year-old senior client and his mom.
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Before you send a contract to new clients, collect their basic contact information. Input these Contact details in ShootProof, and they will auto-populate your clients’ contracts, invoices, and galleries.
Why would I need a Third Party Payer Agreement?
Sometimes Mom pays for the photographs. Or Uncle Jake, or Grandma Betty, or the best friend from college who loves to splurge on the folks she loves.
The Third Party Payer Agreement clarifies who’s responsible for paying—even if they aren’t your actual client.
Be smart. Invest in your own legal protection.
You may feel good about saving a few bucks now, but imagine what it could cost you if you get sued. We’re talking major money. Attorneys fees, court costs, possibly a settlement… You can typically avoid all of this simply by keeping everything legal and in writing from the start.
Rachel reminds us, “A bit of money up front may help you to avoid a major legal headache (and expense) later.”
“I’m a lawyer; but I’m not your lawyer.” —TheLawTog
Always confer with a local attorney before utilizing any contract, and verify that the contract’s language is suited to your business location.