Top 10 Reasons To Have A Photography Contract

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So you’ve set up a photography business but now what? Facebook page? Maybe. Twitter handle? Could happen. But most important, besides skill and dedication are the contracts that will safeguard your business.   Here are the top ten reasons to have a photography contract in place.

1. Outlines client expectations

Clients do not run out and get photographs taken every day. You must outline the expectations you have of them and what they can expect from you. Not only to cover yourself but to provide customer service.

2. Holds clients accountable

Again, clients do not know what is expected. Use the contract with your policies to educate and hold clients accountable to what is expected for a beneficial and successful photographer/client relationship.  Sometimes clients may want to have the rules bent for them, especially if a repeat client, friend or family. Having a formal contract is a great way to ease that awkward conversation.

3. Holds photographer accountable

Just the contract should outline what is expected of the client to hold them accountable the contract should outline what to expect from the photographer to hold them accountable as well. Same as #2 :)

4. Reminds parties of responsibilities

This is a good way to gently remind clients of policies that may seem abstract in the normal course of conversation.  For example, a photographer may not want to beat them over the head about potential late fees if the client misses their ordering time, but having the contract do it for the photographer frees the photog up to developing more rapport and a customer service experience.

5. Highlights ownership of artistic property

This is especially important if you sell digital files (See: Embrace the Digital Age or Not?). In the digital age it can be a common misconception that clients believe they own the photographs from hiring you.  A contract allows for the photographer to put them on notice about copyright ownership and citing the appropriate law.

6.Provides professional relationship to client

Clients who seek out custom portraiture also want a professional relationship. All professionals use contracts on a daily basis. Without one there is a risk of not being trusted or viewed as unprofessional.

7. Gives photographer a way to remedy client issues

Whenever there may be an issue or misunderstanding the photographer can simply refer the client to the provisions in the contract and any communications between photographer and client.

8. Protects the parties

Each party gets a sense of protection and the reality of protection by having all responsibilities, expectations and information outlined.  This document and communications serve as evidence of the professional relationship.

9. Get paid.

Photogs with policies and contracts are more likely to be respected and paid by their clients.

10. It is the professional thing to do

You’re a professional. Act like it!


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Rachel Brenke is an author, photographer, lawyer and business consultant for photographers. She is currently helping creative industry professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction. Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not legal advice, but general information on legal issues commonly encountered.
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