Boudoir photography is a beautifully provoking and empowering niche, for photographer and client alike. Due to the sensitive nature, there can be overwhelming fear or confusion regarding the legalities of how to set up a boudoir photography business and avoid legal issues in the process.
The goal of this article is to give you a quick checklist to use in your business however, consider that this isn't a one-and-done process. As your business grows and offerings change, you should always refer to this list to make sure your legal protection is intact.
Simply explained - our legal roadmap for boudoir photographers is broken into legal photography business setup, photography contracts and copyright.
Before we get into the specific steps, let's highlight some of the important aspects of boudoir photography you want to look out for.
The definition of boudoir - While TheLawTog's boudoir services contract defines boudoir as the industry-standard specific definition, not all contracts do. Start with what you intend your definition to be. Nudity or implied, individual or couples, simulated penetration or real, etc. It is important for you to do research for your individual state regarding pornography laws as your specific definition of boudoir may fall under a legal statute requiring additional licensing, etc.
Client privacy - Since boudoir can be a sensitive and vulnerable experience for clients, many request for privacy of their photographs. At TheLawTog, we do not believe in charging our clients for privacy (if you want photos for marketing, go do a model call and use a contract!), so we do have options listed more in-depth below but you can consider documents such as limited model releases and privacy of photographs.
#1 Legal Biz Set-up
- Proper Entity Creation - Create the proper legal entity for limited liability (such as LLC or corporation), obtain required jurisdictional licenses and permits as needed.
- Taxes - Apply for sales tax permits (if applicable) and remit proper income taxes such as federal and state.
- Marketing Legalities - Grow your boudoir studio with giveaways, local business partnerships and social media postings - but be sure they are in line with state and federal laws.
- Retirement + Insurance- Select proper insurance for protections and retirement to yourself up for deductions NOW and savings in the future.
- Intellectual Property - Understand intellectual property ownership (copyright and trademarks) so you can protect + defect your photographs and business brand.
Note: This list is not all inclusive but is a good starting point for you!
#2 Photography ContractsThere are 4 main levels of photography contracts that protect your business. Each level has a different intention and with a different actor in your photography business but all are for legal protection and expectation setting.
This list includes triggers that cause legal issues in running a photography business are:
DIY or non-lawyer drafted contracts- these are incomplete and can work against the photographer
Not using a contract - contracts do more than legally protect, they also set expectations and missed expectations are the #1 reason photographers have client issues.
LEVEL 1 - Essentials - These 3 core photography contracts create the legal relationship with the client and set expectations.
Services contract - creates the legal relationship between photographer and client while setting expectations for payment, services, scheduling, etc.
Model release - client provides photographer permission for use of their likeness in photographer's marketing
Print release - photographer provides client permission for reproduction rights of photographs
LEVEL 2- SALES - after the session comes the sales process - whether in-person ordering, virtual meetings or digital downloads.
- Payment plan contract - Needed if your client wishes to payment plan additional products beyond the initial services contract
- Final sale document - To avoid any changes of order so that you can confidently submit orders to the print lab without fear of cancellation.
- Product Delivery Acknowledgement - Have your clients inspect and sign off receipt of products - especially high-dollar canvases, prints and albums.
Level 3 - Marketing - From portfolio building, to collaborations to online marketing - make sure you're doing it legit!
Note: Some state and federal laws, such as Federal Trade Commission marketing and other marketing statutes require written permissions for your use of a client, model or other entity/individual in your marketing.
- Referral fee agreements
- Testimonial permission forms
- Collaboration agreements
Level 4 - Outsourcing - deciding to outsource business tasks such as editing, assistant work, and even a hair/makeup artist needs legally outlined!
- Virtual assistant
- Hair/Makeup artist
- Editor/album designer
Privacy of photographs agreement - some clients may want an extra level of protection for the privacy of their photographs. This document helps to provide this security.
Limited model release - limit the photographs shared by content or specific photograph at client discretion.
#3 Protect Your Copyright
Understanding and protecting your copyright ownership of photographs is incredibly important. Not only do all businesses have intellectual property to protect, but as photographers you are SELLING intellectual property. It is imperative to know ownership, licensing, registration and infringement pursuit. View our Ultimate Copyright Kit here
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