So you have your contract, you know that it is important and what it does for you. But what about all those myths you’ve been hearing? Myths being thrown around on the internet and in group forums. What exactly IS right? Here are some photography contract myths dispelled. Go ahead, share this post next time you hear a myth being quoted as truth – it’ll help us all!
1. Template Contracts Stink!
This is so not true. While they may need some improvement and advisement for a specific jurisdiction, a properly drafted template contract can put you worlds ahead of the contract you snagged out of a forum or from Aunt Sally (unless Aunt Sally is a lawyer of course!). While the best plan of action is to have an attorney draft your contract not everyone can afford right away so while investing having template contracts with boilerplate language are a good leg up. (As always seek the advisement of an attorney).
2. If you didn’t have them sign something you have no contract
This is so not true. While some contracts MUST be in writing, some don’t necessarily have to be an oral contracts may be enforceable. They are harder to prove and hold someone to but the conduct of the parties may help lend evidence to the information that would typically be written out. Sure, a written contract is way better than oral but don’t count yourself at a loss just because you made a mistake on snagging a written contract.
3. Contracts cannot be amended
Not true! You have sole discretion as the photographer to adjust a contract as you see fit prior to signing the contract in order to offer customer service to a client. For example, a client declines model release provision and you are amenable to this. Now, it is important to note that once the contract is signed it cannot be changed unless the original contract has a provision that says amendments may be made in writing..then obviously you need to put the amendment in writing and have client sign off on it.
4. Every person photographed must sign the contract
Actually, in contract law there is legal theory called privity of contract, meaning that only the parties who agree to the terms of the contract are bound by them, have the right to enforce the terms of the contract, and claim damages against the other party under the contract. Basically, only the person responsible for the contract must sign it. A classic example is between a photographer and senior client. The senior, if under age, is unable to sign a contract for themselves and must have their parent do so. In that case, the privity would be between the client (parent/guardian) and the photographer..but NOT the senior.
Keep in mind every state is different and contract provisions may vary. There are more myths to be examined but that shall be another day!Keep in mind every state is different and contract provisions may vary. There are more myths to be examined but that shall be another day!To get your own contracts either seek out an attorney in your jurisdiction or check out these Photographer/Attorney drafted forms.
Need more legal info? Check out these resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Photography Contracts - a one-stop article for all of The Law Tog’s informational contract resources.
- Snag your own photography contracts - lawyer/photog drafted specifically for photographers
- Download The Law Tog’s free ebook:
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Rachel Brenke, The Law Tog
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