Photography Contract

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Upd. 16, Jan, 2023
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A photography contract is a legally binding document between the photographer and a client that stipulates the scope of work, terms of payment, and dates for service and delivery of the final products. Modify this contract template on Lawrina to make all necessary arrangements that meet your and the other parties’ expectations. Ensure that the other party receives an original copy of the agreement.

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Template Description

man taking photo of skater

Using an excellent photography contract template is vital for drafting an agreement to deliver photography services. While you may use templates as is, they often help brainstorm the unique needs of a photography client. 

A robust photography contract template provides all the legal considerations to protect both parties to the contract while still capable of customization by creating and filling out the blanks for each customer and occasion. It is wise for a client to download an excellent, yet simple, template to customize to their specific needs.

What Is a Photography Contract?

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.  

Insight

In short, a contract for photographers helps to establish clear communication and expectations between the parties beforehand and explains precisely what the client may purchase from the photographer. 

By expressly setting forth the terms for each phase of the upcoming photography service, a photographer and a client can ensure that they build their business relationship on trust and mutual understanding. 

Parties of the Photography Contract

The parties to a photography contract are the people who agree to provide a service, product, or benefit in exchange for a consideration. In most instances, a photographer agrees to photograph a person or persons either in a portrait setting or during an event in exchange for money. A photography contract usually has two parties:

  • The Photographer –– The party who will contract to provide specific services on a certain date and time for a client in exchange for remuneration (usually a monetary sum). 
  • The Client –– The party who contracts with the photographer and agrees to pay a specific consideration in exchange for the photographer providing their services on a certain date and time.

Key Terms

While a photography contract may include unique terms and considerations, most photography agreements include the following key terms:

  • Name of photographer or photography company –– The contract should include the name of the specific photographer who will provide the services. If the photographer has the option of using an associate or contracting the services of another photographer, put it clearly in the contract.
  • Name of the client –– Define the client in the contract so that the photographer is clear to whom they owe their duty. 
  • Contact information –– This applies to both parties. It is crucial that the parties to the contract have more than one means of contacting the other party.
  • Description of the services to be provided –– Clearly describe the services, so there is no misunderstanding. It should also include any additional items for sale, such as copies of the images, framing, etc.  
  • The date and location of the photography services –– The contract should state exactly what date and time both the photographer and client will arrive at the location for the session. 
  • Agree on a payment schedule –– The contract should expressly detail any deposit/payments required and the deadline for making all payments. This section of the contract should identify what types of payment are acceptable and how to make payments – check, electronic transfers, cash, etc.
  • Include a signature and date line –– Each party must agree to the contract.  
  • Cancellation provision –– You should include a provision that covers how the photographer or client can cancel the contract. Usually, you will want to provide a deadline for the cancellation of the services. The photographer may want to include a provision in the event they are ill, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to perform and in what situations another photographer may be substituted. A client will also want to know the last date to make changes or cancel the contract.
  • Image rights –– The contract should clarify who owns the images and at what point to transfer the rights to an image. Images offered for viewing prior to purchase are usually samples and have watermarks with the photographer’s name to prevent use without purchase.
  • Other considerations –– The parties should itemize and describe any additional or special terms and considerations.

Who Should Use a Photography Agreement Form?

A photographer should offer and prepare a printable photography agreement form for all 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. Some specialize in portraits or weddings; others work only with businesses and marketing. Some are generalists.

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.

What To Include in the Photographer Contract Form?

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.

Summary of What Each Side Will Deliver

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.  

Descriptive Details
  • Format and resolution (high or low) for submitted deliverables;
  • Certificate of authenticity or reproduction license;  
  • Sizing and presentation of prints;
  • Book of images;  
  • Original images taken during the photography session.  
Client's Deliverables
  • 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;
  • Any other agreed deliverable from the client. 

Full Contact Information

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.  

Start Date of Contract and Shoot Date

woman posing at photoshoot

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 about when the service begins. This is one of the first steps to take to have the written document become legally binding and enforceable for both parties. 

Payment Schedule

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 the client may incur and how to handle these fees.  

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.

Cancellation Policy

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.  

Warning

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.

Copyright Ownership and Transfer of Use Rights

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.

Property or Model Releases

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.

Post-Production and Editing

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; 

  • Removing unwanted elements to emphasize an aspect of the image or enhance its visual appeal, depending on the image purposes. 

Extra Fees

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.

Liability Limitations

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.

Warning

Please note that these are examples of standard clauses that are typically contained in a photography contract and are guidelines rather than mandatory provisions. The key element, however, is that both parties must sign and date the contract for it to be valid.   

How To Write a Photography Contract?

The parties to a contract should carefully consider their expectations and needs and include all relevant terms and conditions. However, the following steps may be helpful when creating a general photography contact:

  1. Identify the name, address, and contact information of the photographer and client;

  2. Write down the date and time for the photography session or event;

  3. Provide the exact address for the photography session or event;

  4. State exactly how long the event or session will be photographed;

  5. Describe exactly who and what will be photographed;

  6. Indicate the monetary amount the photographer will charge in exchange for the photographs;

  7. Specify exactly when, where, and how the client will pay all deposits and installments;

  8. Expressly state any cancellation terms, including the deadline to cancel the contract, whether the photographer will forfeit or return any deposits and what will happen if either party breaches the contract;

  9. Expressly and clearly itemize any special or unique requirements;

  10. Clearly set forth the terms for the rights to the images.

How To Use a Photography Contract

Whether you are a photographer or a client, a legally binding contract is a tremendous asset. Each party should ensure that the contract provides clear and explicit details of their expectations, obligations, and rights. 

Both parties of the photography contract should understand what each term means and how it will impact them. It is vital that the parties not make any assumptions about the services to be provided and that they thoroughly and candidly discuss their expectations to ensure a productive and successful working relationship.

Common Use Cases

Photography contracts are used for a wide variety of situations. Some of the most common use cases include:

  • Wedding and reception photography;
  • Bridal portraits;
  • Senior pictures;
  • Christmas card photography;
  • Family portraits;
  • Newborn portraits;
  • Prenatal/pregnancy portraits;
  • Birthday celebration photography; 
  • Party photography.

When Not To Use the Photography Contract

women discussing photos

If you do not plan to charge for your photography services, you probably do not need to have a photography contract. However, if you have a client relationship with someone, then you need to consider having a contract. If another party is relying upon you to provide a service or to deliver a product, then you need to protect yourself and create a contract. Likewise, if you are relying upon a photographer to show up and provide their services, you should put your expectations into a written contract and have the photographer commit in a written contract to provide their services in exchange for the agreed-upon consideration. 

In almost all situations, you should use a photography contract whether you are the photographer or the client. Anytime there are expectations between parties, it is best to reduce those expectations to writing so that each party understands and willingly enters into an agreement.

State Law

Each state has contract law statutes that govern all contracts, including photography agreements. Federal laws also inform state law regarding various types of contract law. Federal copyright laws specifically control and influence each state’s photography law. 

Insight

Under the 1976 Federal Copyright Act, federal copyright laws cover a photographer’s work from the moment they create the image. In other words, as soon as the camera shutter clicks, the image created has federal law protection in favor of the photographer or owner of the photography equipment or employer of the photographer. Until they sell the image to the client or other purchaser,  the photographer or their employer owns the image. 

Even though the image is of another person, that person has no right to the image until he or she receives ownership via a sale or gift. The photography contract template should expressly state these facts so there is no surprise to the client. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I submit a photography contract to a client?

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. 

Do you know what situations require a photography subject to sign a photo release?

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. 

Do you need a wedding photography contract?

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.