How to write a photography contract

Mar 4, 2021

Topic: Contracts
Time Investment: 10 Minutes
Suggested Product: Contract Templates


Having written agreements with your clients creates legal protection for both parties, outlines expectations and provides customer service.

You should never go into any photography session without some written documentation to help guide the relationship.

I am happy to have convinced you that you need a contract.  At a minimum, you need a services contract, model release and print release.

I'm going to walk you through a checklist process of how to sketch out what a main services contract should include for your business BUT YOU ARE NOT TO USE IT WITHOUT LAWYER REVIEW. You could end up drafting it against yourself, polarizing clients or simply believing it was legit and when times just is not.

After working with thousands of photographers, I understand what industry standards exist and the general methods of business.  That is why I am able to provide done-for-you contract template forms and the checklists below.

However, each one of you probably has a desire for how your business is to be run. I want you to start first with these few questions:

How do I want to run my business?

  • Do I want payment all up front? If not, how much and when?
  • What products do I want to include?
  • How much do I want to charge for clients to book me? Is that initial fee going to be refundable?
  • Am I willing to waive a model release? If I do, will I charge them a fee?
  • Do I want to require remaining balances to be paid before session or after?
  • How long after session/event will I have the gallery ready?
  • Do I want to offer in-persons sales, live online sales, or passive galleries?
  • Do I want to sell copyright? If I don't, will I pursue copyright infringers? Will I take the steps to register copyright?
  • Do I want to allow reschedules?
  • What do I want to happen if client shows up late?
  • Do I have a reliable substitute photographer?
  • Is there anything I've learned in social media groups that I want to adapt?
  • Is there anything I've seen in social media groups that I want to avoid


What legal information do I need?

The framework of the written contract should include these areas:

  • Name of the client(s)
  • Address of the client(s)
  • Legal name of your photography business and entity
  • Address of your photography business
  • Description of the services and/or products to be provided
  • The amount and method of compensation in exchange for services and/or products
  • Location(s) details - date, time and venue(s)
  • Signatures of client(s)
  • Signature of photography business representative


Legal miscellany should include:

  • Failure to perform
  • Dispute resolution method
  • Attorneys fees for contract enforcement
  • Dispute resolution geographical location
  • Governing law
  • Force majuere
  • Waivers
  • Substitute photographer (if applicable)


Photography contract specifics should include:

  • non-refundable initial payment
  • services to be rendered
  • products included(if any)
  • rescheduling and cancellations
  • artistic discretionary rights
  • completion schedule
  • delivery method of products
  • standard price list
  • copyright ownership
  • gallery proofing
  • cooperation of parties
  • late arrivals


Payment specifics should include:

  • amount to be paid when
  • when and amount of late fees
  • payment method


Want to skip all the overwhelm and save money? 

Snag our all-in-one photography contract bundles are that are lawyer-drafted, instant-download, fill-in-the-blank here.


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