If you’re stepping into the world of paid photography, having a photography contact in place is an absolute must here in 2023.
Even if there’s no exchange of money for your photography, it’s still a good idea to have some form of contract in place, just to ensure your rights are properly covered.
Not everyone can afford a lawyer to create a customised photography contract template, which is why I’ve included a few here for you to download for free.
As soon as you’re in a position to invest in a lawyer’s time, I’d highly recommend you have them look over your contract, and make 100% sure it’s legally binding and relevant to your country/state’s laws.
Disclaimer: The contract templates below are intended to be used as a guideline for you to customise, and eventually have verified by a lawyer. Shotkit will not be held responsible for any damages, lawsuits, or disputes that may arise from the use of these templates.
Table of Contents
What is a Photography Contract?
A photography contract is a written agreement that specifies all the tasks to be carried out by a photographer.
Depending on the nature of the photography work to be undertaken, the photography contract will include the type of services, the length of the agreement and the amount of compensation.
Once signed, the photography contract binds both parties to the agreement until the job is complete or the contract is terminated.
What Should Photography Contracts Include in 2023?
If you’re going to be creating your own contract from scratch, there are several items that are absolutely essential, and a few that might only be relevant based on the nature of the work.
As a starting guideline, here are 11 things you should think about when writing a generic photography contract.
- Contact Information for photographer and client – name, address, email, phone
- Start/End time and date
- Payment Terms – pricing, payment schedule, deposits, retainers…
- Extra Fees – travel, second photographers, permits, late payments…
- Deliverables – what photographer and client will deliver, and when
- Cancellation Policy – What photographer is responsible for, refund of the deposit…
- Image Rights – photo copyright ownership, transfer of usage rights, time period…
- Model Release – one for each person shown
- Image Copyright – Who owns the copyright to the images, is the client able to edit images…
- Liability Limitations – inability to perform the job, loss of files, acts of God…
- Signature Blocks – one for each page of the contract
Remember this isn’t an exhaustive list of items to include when drafting your photography contract – it’s merely meant as a guide, from which you can base your own version, should you decide to make one. This is a bare-bones basic photography contract, after all.
Haven’t got time to make a photography agreement yourself? Here’s how you can download a bundle of 4 of the most common photography contract templates…
Photography Contract Template Bundle | Photography Contract Examples
I paid a law graduate (LLB) with experience in legal drafting to create 4 photography contract templates for me, then bundled them together for you to download for free.
You’ll need to customise each of the contracts for photographers to suit your own needs – remember to edit the highlighted sections, making sure to include the provisions and terms relevant to you.
You can also look for photography contract samples online so you get a better idea of how one is written for specific cases.
As mentioned above, these contract templates are meant purely as guidelines. When you are ready to invest properly into your work, enlist the help of a qualified lawyer to look over the contract and make it legally binding.
Here’s what’s included in the free bundle:
1. Free Photography Contract
This is a generic photography template that can be adjusted to almost any work you undertake, whether free photography or paid – just remember to tailor it to the particular shoot, so as not to confuse your client. Because it is broad in scope, a photographer contract template must be modified for every project. The good thing about free photographer contract templates is that there are tons of them online. Feel free to pick one that closely suits your needs.
2. Wedding Photography Contract
If you’re a wedding photographer who’s shooting your first wedding, make doubly sure you’re properly covered! Get a lawyer to look over this wedding contract after you’ve customised it to your needs. You’ll also have to ensure you have photography business insurance and limited liability cover – mine is for $10 million (!!), but different venues require different levels of coverage.
Reminder: This wedding photography contract (or any of the contracts provided here) isn’t a legal document until approved by a lawyer.
3. Model Release
If you’re taking a photo of a person, you’ll need them to sign a model release if you intend to publish their photo. No release is required for publication of a photo taken of an identifiable person when the person is in a public place – however, it’s always best to double-check your rights.
4. Portrait Photography Contract
This simple photography contract can be easily amended for engagement shoots, one-on-one portrait sessions, family photography, and everything in between. If you intend to use the subject(s) photos commercially, it’s best to get them to sign a model release too. If they’re underage, make sure you get their parent or guardian to sign it.
How to Download the Photography Contract Template (Free)
In order to download the 4 free photography contract templates, just enter your email address, so I can send you a link to download the sample photography contract bundle.
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I promise to never spam you, but you’re free to unsubscribe at any time – sound like a fair deal? :-)
How to get your Photographer Contract Signed
Most client management software (CMS) includes the ability to create contracts and request signatures. I use one called Studio Ninja, which allows the client to make their photography booking in an online portal, and then read and sign the contract using their computer or mobile device.
It’s rare nowadays for photography clients to sign using pen and paper, but if your photography business allows for in-person meetings, asking them to sign on the dotted line when you’re present is always an option.
An online signature system is of course much more efficient, and most likely the preferable option for both parties – software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro offers a neat e-signature solution that you can easily integrate into your booking process.
You can also use Acrobat Pro to create and edit PDFs, such as pricing lists or brochures for your clients. It’s a great option if you’re ready to invest in a streamlined way to handle online bookings.
FAQs About Photography Contracts
- How do I write a photography contract?
A photography contract must contain essential details about the intended work and conditions. It needs to include critical elements such as client name and address, photographer details, and agreed dates and times. Among other details, it must include payment terms, cancellation policy, image rights, and liability limitations.
- Can you write your own photography contract?
You can write your own photography contract from scratch but you run the risk of missing important details or omitting essential legal terms. The more professional and accurate your photography contract is, the more legally binding it will be. You could engage a lawyer to assist you in creating a photography contract or begin with a suitable template.
- Do I need a photography contract?
Every photographer doing paid work should have a photography contract. It is a legally binding document that protects you and the clients should things not go according to plan. A detailed photography contract specific to each photography shoot is essential.
- Can you sue a photographer without a contract?
You can sue a photographer with or without a contract. If a photographer provides a contract, you can sue them for breach of contract if they have not upheld the terms. You can’t sue a photographer for breach of contract if there never was a contract – always best to request one before the job.
- Are photography contracts legally binding?
Photography contracts are legally binding provided the client and photographer have a copy of the contract signed by both parties. Much like an employment contract, a photography contract is a legal agreement to the terms of work to be undertaken.
- What is the best software for photography contracts?
The best software for photography contracts needs to be a digital solution that allows for e-signing. It prevents the need for you and your client to meet each time you need to sign the contract. Photography contract software needs to create tailored contracts to suit your business, types of shoots, and terms.
Final Words on Contracts for Photographers
It seems like every week we hear horror stories of disgruntled brides who are trying to sue their wedding photographers. Regardless of who’s in the right, it highlights the importance of covering your a** with a legally binding contract!
Even if you don’t shoot weddings, if you earn money taking photos, make sure you invest some of it back into your business. The first things you should be investing in are insurance and a legally bound contract for photography services that ensures your liability is limited.
Even if you’re just shooting models on a ‘time for print’ basis (where no money is exchanged), it’s still a wise move to get your subject to sign a model release, just to cover yourself in the future.
Every country and state will have its own laws, so to make sure you’re properly covered, get your contract checked by a good lawyer – I can’t emphasize this enough!
I hope at least that these free contract templates will help save you some time when the lawyer’s expensive hourly rate starts ticking over ;-)