Photography Contracts: Here’s to Not Getting Sued!

7 min read

These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your company 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.

These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your company safe and successful for years to come!

Katy Shay Photo

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!”

Anonymous

These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your company safe and successful for years to come!

Katy Shay Photo

You need a contract created by an attorney

Known industry-wide as TheLawTog, photographer-turned-attorney Rachel Brenke knows all-too-well the dangers of working without photography contracts.

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 your 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
  • Portraiture Contract
  • Boudoir Photography Contract
  • Newborn Photography Contract
  • Senior Portrait Contract
  • 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!]
These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your company safe and successful for years to come!

Katy Shay Photo

“But do I always need a contract?”

Rachel Brenke says YES. 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.

Here’s why you 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.

These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your company safe and successful for years to come!

Katy Shay Photo

Here’s why you need the Second Shooter Agreement

Unfortunately, disputes can arise between photographers and their associate shooters because there was 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.”

Anonymous

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 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.”

These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your company safe and successful for years to come!

Katy Shay Photo

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.

Here’s why you need the 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.

These lawyer-drafted photography contracts and expert business tips will help keep your company safe and successful for years to come!

Katy Shay Photo

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.


Written by ANNE SIMONE | Featuring THELAWTOG | Photographs by KATY SHAY PHOTO via Two Bright Lights | Cover photo by ANDREW T. NEEL | Special thanks to KEENAN JEWELRY, BOHME, & THE MONTANA DISTILLERY

 

Budgeting & Finance
Apr 2021

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