Getting into business as a professional photographer can be overwhelming - but, I promise, it does not have to be.
The three major legal areas you need to get your head around are: legal business set-up, copyright and contracts.
Below you will find a contracts checklist and your roadmap to getting yourself legally protected with photography contracts.
Keep in mind, the term photography contract is an overarching term.
Typically, when other photographers ask for a "contract," they are referring to the services contract - which we will discuss below. However, photography contracts means a variety of contracts you'd need for different aspects of your business. Think of it this way - the term "candy" is an umbrella term and then you have the different types - gummies, mints, gum, etc. You will see four major levels of contracts in priority order. It is encouraged to save this post and use this as a checklist to ensure you are fully legally protected.
Before we get into the types, it is a good time to discuss what a contract actually is. The generally understood idea is a legal document, which is accurate.
However, photography contracts do more than provide legal protection.
They provide a central point of information for both photographers and clients, help to set expectations, and build buyer's confidence.
Don't just use a contract because TheLawTog tells you to, do it because you want to be professional, protected and legit.
#1 Essential Contracts
- Services contract - This is the main photography contract that creates the legal relationship between photographer and client. This document outlines the core photography services and products to be delivered to client.
- Print release - This document outlines client's permissions for reproduction of digital files.
- Model release - The client signs this document to give photographer permission for use of their publicity rights (i.e. recognizable body and face) in photographer's marketing activities.
#2 Sales Contracts
- Credit Card Authorization Form - This form creates an authorization by Clients to allow Photographers to automatically draft from any credit card. Outlines responsibilities and penalties as well.
- Payment Plan Contract - This agreement outlines all of the responsibilities, deadlines and consequences of a payment plan for products added onto collection or purchase not outlined in original services agreement.
- Product Delivery Agreement - This agreement is utilized at the final delivery of products to ensure clients acceptance of products and remind that all sales are final and no refunds will be given
- Invoice Form - This form acts as a fill-in-the-blank invoice (can be done digitally or printed and filled in) for easy ordering.
- Final Sale - The Sales Contract is for use at the sales session to protect the sale. This can be used to prevent any issues with clients amending or attempting to cancel order after it has been placed.
- Permission to Sell Photographs - This agreement allows the client to provide the photographer permission to sell photographs from their photography event to private third-parties. It also acts to define uses, restrictions on purchasers and specific images that are sold to third-parties (For example: parents of the bride/groom, wedding party participants).
- Copyright Card - Are you using the appropriate language to inform, educate and remind your client of the copyright information already outlined in your contract? This document provides a gentle reminder to clients to help protect your art.
- Album Design - This agreement outlines the procedures, ordering dates, design approvals, design modifications and applicable fees and/or costs that may be associated with changes beyond what is included in the collection /album sold.
#3 Marketing Contracts
Model Call Contract- This contract is intended for photographers actively portfolio building with model calls, or have models for a variety of reasons (workshop/mentoring modeling, continued portfolio building, etc.).
Model Release - (explained above).
Print Release - (explained above).
Photography Barter Contract - Outlines the exchange between photographer giving services and/or products in exchange for bartered goods or services.
Styled Shoot Collaboration Agreement: Agreement between the styled shoot host and each vendor who will contribute or participate in the styled shoot. Covers relationship of parties, use of equipment and props, venue fee allocation, compensation, confidentiality and non-disclosure of proprietary information, cancellation, publication of images and material from collaboration (including where, how, when, and if they can be submitted to external sites such as blog features), cooperative attitude of vendors, waivers, indemnification, and legal miscellany.
Image Use License: Provided by the photographer to each vendor or host for use after the styled shoot. Reinforces copyright ownership with the photographer and defines the uses, including permissions regarding image alterations.
Styled Shoot-specific Model Release: For models to sign and provide to each person using the images. Allows client to easily and legally give permission for use of their images for commercial purposes (magazine, ad etc.). It also releases any claims the client may have to future compensation for use of images. This release includes language covering adults and minors.
Business Affiliate Agreement: This business affiliation contract will help you set expectations and legally protect the affiliate relationship. The document is intended for referral fees for referred and booked clients, along with the inclusion of photographer marketing materials and photograph displays in the Business Vendor's workplace.
Website Terms: Creates the legal relationship between you and website visitors, as well as setting expectations for use of website.
Legal Website Audit Checklist: A legal and security audit review.
Testimonial Release Form: Use client's feedback and/or testimonials in marketing without violating their privacy!
#4 Outsourcing Contracts
A must for second shooters, associate shooters, hair/makeup, virtual assistants and more!
Services Contract: Outlines what services the employee/contractor are being hired for.
Non-Compete agreement: Restricts competition from an employee of your business during and/or after termination of the employment.
Non-Disclosure Agreement/Confidentiality: Guards sensitive and confidential information your employee or contractor may have access to.
Non-Solicitation Agreement: Prevents employee/contractors from soliciting business from your clients.
Intellectual Property Acknowledgement: Employee/contract acknowledges all intellectual property they create will be owned by photographer's business.