How long should my photography contract be? (Video)

Feb 12, 2015

Topic: Contracts
Time Investment: 5 Minutes
Suggested Product: All-in-One Contract Bundles


“Your contract is too long. I’m not signing this. Why do I even need to sign a contract?”

These are some of the common objections that we hear from clients, but we need to protect our business.

So let’s look into some information about contracts, of how long they should be, why even to have one, and what to include.

Having a contract in your photograph business is really super important to protect yourself and your client. It sets an expectation between both of the parties in order to ensure that you both feel good about the situation, you’re both legally covered, and you also know what’s going to happen in the course of the relationship.


A really common question that I always here is, “How long should my contract be?” Well, I hate to break it to you, there’s no formula of how long a contract should be. In fact, it really is all about the content and the provisions that are included in the contract.


Sometimes we’re going to get client pushback on having a contract or the length, but I want you to consider this: Is it more important to listen to your clients when they’re upset or given a little pushback on a legal tool or do you want to listen to them on other aspects? Do they demand your business policies and procedures? Maybe. I mean, we want to take into account some of the things that clients say to us, right? We’re always going to ask for feedback, we’re always going to be listening and reevaluating, but we shouldn’t let our clients rule the roost, so to speak, and push us into cutting contract length simply because it’s too long, or by not having a contract tool at all. This is not their business to protect; this is your business to protect. We need to be able to stand firm and understand the things that are in our contract and make sure that what is in there is quality.


What I really strongly recommend, if you do have a feeling that your contract may be too long and it may be scaring clients off, first, education them and let them know this is here to protect both of us. This is here to outline all the expectations, the responsibilities, so that we know what’s going to happen. That’s merely what this is for; it’s an educational and informative tool on top of a legal tool protection for us to have between each other.


Second, you, as the business owner, need to sit down and think, “Are there enough policies to cover myself in this contract? Are the provisions succinct enough? Are they covering what I want or I do have extraneous extra ones that don’t even apply to my business situation?” If they don’t even apply to your business and you’re not adhering to them anyways, why have them in there. Unless they’re actually giving you a benefit, there’s no sense in having those extraneous provisions. That could help cut down on length a little bit, but again, length isn’t the indicator; it’s the quality over the quantity that we need to be mindful of.


If I explain to clients in figuring out which provisions we need to have and understanding the provisions that are in our contract, we can be confident in the provisions and the protections that we have in the contract between ourselves and our clients. But we could also know right off the bat that we are protected and that we’re going to be able to enact our business in the way that we want to, while listening to our clients’ feedback, but ensuring that we’re protected on all levels.


Another way to also be able to work our way around of this client pushback on contracts is to make them digital. If you hand a big ol’ piece of paper to a client, they’re going to be a little bit more apprehensive, especially if it’s just for a general portrait session, and not necessarily, a wedding or a big commercial event, they’re not going to expect a big contract. They’re not going to expect to have a contract maybe at all, but having it digitally, it makes it efficient and easier for you to be able to enact the business with them, and they also don’t see the content quantity that is being thrown at them.


Now, the last thing is if you have a client who decides they don’t want to book you because of your contract, maybe that’s the red flag that you need. If they’re not willing to enact in professional policies and adhere up front to what you’re providing as a professional business, perhaps they’re not someone that you even want to get into business with at all. You don’t want to bang them over the head with a contract and use it as this legal protection tool; like I said, it’s an expectation and communication tool as well. So if they don’t even want to adhere to listening to what your policies are in one streamline format, who’s to say they’re going to adhere and listen to them later?


So there’s just a little tidbit for you on how to use your contract and why to even have one in the first place.


Remember, quality over quantity is what’s most important. Make sure that your contract is tailored to your exact business policies, and always make sure that you understand what’s in the contract so you can explain it to your clients or potential clients as well.


Here at TheLawTog, we have photography contract templates that are available. These are lawyer-photographer drafted templates that provide a variety of provisions for you to choose based on your business policies. They’re pretty robust, to give you bang for your buck, because you never know if you’re going to need to the provisions later on. But they’re always intended to be tailored for you, for your business, for you to go through and select between the provisions, eliminate ones that you don’t necessarily need, but you’ll have them later if you do ever have a situation arise that you would like to include it and/or change your business policies.



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