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The photography agreement form is a legally binding document between a photographer and a client stipulating the scope of work, payment terms, and dates for the service and delivery of final products, all of which are the main elements of a photographer-client collaboration. The contract reduces the risk of misunderstandings between the parties by outlining their rights and obligations accordingly.
In short, a contract for photographers helps to establish clear communication and expectations between the parties beforehand. By expressly setting forth the terms for each phase of the upcoming photography service, a photographer and a client can ensure that their business relationship is built on trust and mutual understanding.
A photographer should offer and prepare a photography agreement form for all of his or her prospective clients. By doing so, creative professionals can protect themselves and their businesses from any possible legal issues.
Photographers can provide professional services to individuals and business entities. These parties will usually be referred to in the contract as “client” or “clients.”
Examples of the services that photographers can undertake with a photography contract template include:
- Photo shoots with newborn children, older children, teenagers, or models;
- Event photos for sports, concerts, weddings, funerals, and birthdays;
- Family and individual portraits, including pet photography;
- Brand or business photography;
- Commissioned photography for nature, wildlife, or landscape;
- Boudoir photography, interior photography, macro photography, or digital photography.
While drafting your contract for photography services, be sure to incorporate provisions that protect your interests as well as your client’s. Discussed below are the standard clauses a photographer contract form should contain.
Specify what each party agreed to during the initial engagement and negotiation. List all the deliverables the client expects and provide the following descriptive details:
- Format and resolution for submitted deliverables;
- Certificate of authenticity or reproduction license;
- Sizing and presentation of prints;
- Book of images;
- Original images taken during the photography session.
The client’s deliverables may include the following elements:
- Photography shot list, so that the photographer will know what shots to capture;
- The timeframe for feedback on proofs and selection of final photos for editing and finalizing;
- Equipment, tools, or props that the client is expected to provide;
- Costs apart from the professional fees, if any; and
- Any other agreed deliverable from the client.
Write out the complete contact information for both parties. This should include the legal name of the photography business or the photographer’s full name, street address, and email address. Specify the client’s legal name, address, and phone number, and indicate whether the client is an individual or a business.
State the exact date, time, and location for the photography services. It is essential to have a start date delineated on the photography agreement template so that there is no ambiguity as to when the service begins. This is one of the first steps to take to have the written document become legally binding and enforceable as to both parties.
The payment schedule is another essential part of a contract for photographers. This section should detail the total cost of the services and list any required deposits or retainer fees. The parties should also set forth the terms for any extra fees that the client may incur, and how these fees will be handled.
Each payment should have a clear due date and there should be express provisions explaining the possible consequences if the client fails to pay on time.
What will happen if a client cancels a booking on short notice? Will you refund the deposit, or will the client forfeit the deposit? What are the circumstances for refunding a deposit? These are questions to keep in mind when drafting your cancellation policy.
Additionally, as a photographer, you may face a client's rejection of your work product, leading to the client’s refusal to pay for your finished job. For these situations, you should set a rejection fee and ensure that the client is aware of this provision upfront and agrees to it. In return, the client may be allowed leeway to control the photo shoot and immediately notify you if anything goes wrong or is not meeting the client’s expectations.
In other cases, your client does not have a right to refuse the images you made.
Most photographers maintain ownership of the work and only give clients the right to use it, depending on the nature of the work and the compensation. This section should denote that you, as the photographer, will permanently own the copyright to the work. This section should also have language conveying that you are granting the client the right to use the images for a limited timeframe or limited capacity, especially for photos the client will use for profit.
For portraits and other non-commercial forms of photography, you may wish to permanently assign ownership of the work to the client.
You must include a release clause if the project entails taking photos of a model or someone’s property. This clause guarantees that the other party has released the photographer from liability or lawsuit based on invasion of privacy, or defamation of character, for using his or her likeness or the likeness of the property.
Discuss the nature of any post-production or editing services you will provide for the client. Some examples of these services include:
- Cropping and leveling to manipulate the size and the character of the photograph;
- Applying shadow, highlights, contrast, brightness, and color adjustment to enhance aspects of the image, depending on its purposes; and
- Removing unwanted elements to emphasize an aspect of the image or enhance its visual appeal, depending on the image purposes.
Extra costs, such as travel expenses, required permit fees, and costs associated with significant editing requests, are usually subject to additional fees. This clause should state that the client is responsible for covering these additional charges.
The liability limitation clause should cover what will happen in the case of a party sustaining damages or if the photographer cannot deliver the services due to unforeseen circumstances.
Please note that the photography contract template described above may not be entirely applicable to your circumstances or the specific services procured by your client. These are examples of standard clauses that are typically contained in a photography contract and should be considered as guidance rather than mandatory provisions. The key element, however, is that the contract must be signed and dated by both parties in order for it to be valid.
*Please consider that this is a non-exhaustive list of the important provisions that this type of agreement should have.*
Creating a simple yet legally binding photography contract can only happen after having a candid conversation with the client on the essential points of the agreement. Be sure to agree on the nature of the photos needed, the cost of service, and the location and time for performing the service. Once you have reached an initial understanding with the client, you can proceed with writing the contract as described below.
Before performing any work, you should contact the client and provide a copy of your photography contract template. This allows the client to review and confirm whether all the clauses that were discussed are in the contract, including essential fees, relevant dates, force majeure provisions, and other terms unique to your client-contractor relationship. You can agree on a specific amount of time for the client to review the contract and share any feedback.
Negotiations are critical before both parties officially enter a contract. Some legal issues may occur during the client-photographer relationship, so both parties should discuss the following situations:
- Conditions for refunding a deposit;
- Confidentiality terms that both parties should fulfill;
- An option for the photographer to recommend an alternative if circumstances render him or her unable to fulfill contractual obligations;
- Approvals that are required before incurring and/or billing extra fees; and
- Image rights and ownership.
Encourage the client to point out any ambiguous aspect of the contract to avoid future misunderstandings after signing.
Once you have settled the above issues, draft the variable information in your template, including:
- Legal names and relevant contact information of the parties;
- Official start date of the contract;
- Date and location for delivering the service;
- List of deliverables;
- Total cost of the service;
- Payment deadlines;
- Force majeure events and the expected consequences afterward.
Lawrina Match provides a helpful questionnaire with all the essential questions to keep in mind when putting together a photography agreement form. While answering the questions, you will instantly see all the relevant information inserted into the required fields. This will save you considerable time and effort from having to manually draft the document.
In the end, you will have a complete photography contract form that you can use anywhere in the United States. Experienced Lawrina lawyers have created and revised all Lawrina Match templates to ensure that they are up-to-date with current state law regulations and to fit various professional needs.
You can download the photography agreement template, print it out, and put it to use with your clients to reach an agreement efficiently, smoothly, and successfully for your photography services.
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You may submit the contract via email in a version that prevents the client from editing the document. In your submission message, encourage the client to reply to the email with questions or schedule a meeting to build consensus. Give the client sufficient time to review the document.
If you are photographing people, models, property, or pets, you will need a photo release. A photo release permits you to publish photographs without the risk of privacy invasion or defamation lawsuits. Depending on the circumstances, you can have a stand-alone talent release agreement or a release clause in the photography agreement.
The short answer is yes, it is best to have a wedding photography contract in writing. For wedding photography services, always prepare a contract that specifies the event date and venue and secures a down payment from the client. The agreement protects the photographer’s interests and minimizes the risk of misunderstanding since the couple’s expectations are documented. The contract gives clients the peace of mind that they have secured a photographer who will show up because they are bound to a legal agreement.