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    Guidelines for creating your photography contract

    The postal guidelines for making your photography contract first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Darina Kopcok.

    Guidelines for creating your photography contract

    If you have a level of a photographer who works with clients, you must have a contract.

    When photo jobs go wrong, this is often due to a lack of communication.

    A contract not only protects you but also your customer in the event of unfulfilled expectations.

    Here are some inclusions that you may want to consider.

    Who is the agreement about?

    First of all, you must clearly state who the contract is between and identify each party. You can identify yourself as "Company", and your customer as "the client." The photo shoot itself can be referred to as "the event."

    Please note that the agreement replaces all prior agreements between the parties and that the only way to add to the agreement must be in writing and that this change must be signed by both parties.

    In short, if something changes between the signing of the agreement and the day of the shoot, you need a different contract.

    What are the reservations?

    You must have a section about your contract about the reservations.

    This means that you note the date the photo session was scheduled and your rescheduling, postponing and cancellation policy.

    Make sure that the customer is very clear about the consequences of one of these changes.

    For example, many photographers request a 50% non-refundable deposit in the event of cancellation, so that they would not miss out on the potential work they could have booked that day.

    Photography contract - Darina Kopcok-DPS


    I recommend having a section stating that as a photographer / company you have the right to terminate coverage and leave the location if you experience inappropriate, threatening, hostile or offensive behavior of a person at the event that your safety is under discussion states. This can be a rare occurrence, but it is worth starting your contract so that you can assert your rights if you are a victim in an unsafe situation.

    This may be relevant for a female wedding photographer who is harassed by drunk guests.

    Recording time and additions

    Note that the recording time starts at the scheduled start time and ends at the scheduled time regardless of when the client is displayed. If a customer is very late, the shoot goes to the agreed time and not later.

    I also highly recommend that if you are a commercial photographer, that is you clearly state that the customer or a representative of their company must attend the shoot to provide creative direction and to approve the final images.

    You are not responsible for the final aesthetic if they are not there to provide feedback and approval.

    In addition, you reserve the right to cancel the withdrawal and retain the deposit if the customer or his representative is not present.

    Serious. This happens.

    Photography contract -Darina Kopcok-DPS

    Expenses made

    This is where you may notice that additional costs may have been incurred that may not be part of the original quote, such as parking, props for a fashion or product shoot, or groceries at a food shoot.

    This type of expenditure is usually NIBD (to be determined) and is not part of the initial estimate. This must be made clear in advance so that you ultimately do not receive a discount on your income to cover these matters.


    You are responsible for a lot on a shoot, but certain things are unforeseen and beyond your control. Matters such as pushy staff, late arrivals from the client and staff, weather, planning complications, incorrect addresses provided by the client or limitations of the chosen location.

    Location and location limits

    Unless you are photographing in your studio or in a rental studio, the client is usually responsible for providing a suitable place for the photographic work.

    If it appears that the location is limited in space or otherwise impedes you from performing your work in a safe manner (or one that does not allow you to produce the desired result), you reserve the right to relocate go to another location or cancel the shoot without penalty.


    Who is responsible for securing permits?

    The moment you put a tripod in a public place, you can most likely be asked to go along with a police officer or other type of city official. This can be disastrous in a commercial photo shoot where the location is scouted and essential to the storyboard or the story of the final images.

    Permits can take some time to secure, so keep this in mind if this task comes on you.

    Photography contract -Darina Kopcok-DPS

    Film & copyright

    The photography that you produce for a client still belongs to you, as the creator of those images. Many customers think that the images belong to it them because they pay you money to produce them. They must be taught about copyright.

    In the commercial world, clients recommend that you produce photos that match their brand. They then pay you a separate fee to license those images for a specific use and a specific timeframe.

    You should have a separate one User agreement in addition to your contract with usage parameters.

    Limitation of liability

    In the unlikely event that you are unable to perform according to the guidelines in the contract due to injury, illness, an "act of God" or any other event beyond your control, you may not be held responsible.

    However, you must make every effort to reschedule the shoot. If this is not possible, usually all payment received for the event must be returned.

    If digital files are lost, stolen or destroyed outside of your sphere of influence, including but not limited to the hard disk or equipment failure, your liability is to return all payments.

    The limit obligation for a partial loss of originals must be a pro rata amount of lost amounts based on the percentage of the total number of originals.

    Capture and delivery

    You are not liable for the delivery of any photo that is taken during an event or recording.

    The number of final files to be delivered is at the discretion of the photographer or is based on an agreement between the photographer and the client before the contract is signed.

    In this section you can note when you want to deliver the files and how they are delivered, such as JPG or TIFF files.

    Photography contract -Darina Kopcok-DPS

    Postproduction and processing

    The final post-production and editing styles, effects, and overall aesthetics of the image are at its discretion unless you are working on a specific type of work where the editing is done in-house, for example, by a magazine or advertising agency.

    Nothing is worse than working hard on editing and then customers have crazy Instagram filters on your images. Prohibit any changes to your photos unless there is an agreement with the customer as to what those changes will be, such as placing text on a photo.

    Payment schedule

    If you ask for a down payment (and I hope you are), you must include it in your contract.

    How you manage the payment for the rest is up to you. Many photographers allow thirty days prior to receipt, however, any late payment thereafter is subject to interest – usually 15-18%.

    Also note a policy regarding any NSF costs and whether there are consequences that the customer must be aware of in terms of late payment.

    For example, you can state in your contract that default after three months is subject to legal action.


    At the end of the agreement I propose that you submit the agreed price.

    If you do not have a separate user agreement, you can include the user conditions here.

    For my commercial work, I usually do not give my customers a user agreement until the images have been fully paid and the use of my images is prohibited until then.

    I think this works well for me. Customers may not use your images publicly unless they have paid for them, or it is a copyright infringement.

    I even mention this term on my invoices and draw attention to this in my e-mail communication after sending.

    Some customers need a lot of time to pay you unless you draw specific limits around the payment and the use of your images.

    Photography contract -Darina Kopcok-DPS

    Signature field

    There must be an area where both you and the client can sign and date the contract.

    It is best to use electronic signature software such as Hello Sign, so that customers do not have to physically spend their time downloading and scanning a signed contract. Everyone is busy right?

    If you use a CRM software, it may already offer such a function. For example, I use Dubsado, a CRM system for creatives. I can send customer emails and contracts directly from the user interface.

    I have all the other functions of a customer management system for about the same price that I would only have to pay for signature software.


    Hopefully this has given you an idea of ​​what you can do in your contract.

    Make sure your contracts are dated and signed before you consider a vacancy booked.

    View them with the customer and ensure that the general terms and conditions are understood. Many people don't bother reading things before they sign it and you don't want to be surprised.

    Keep in mind that this post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, since I am not a lawyer and cannot advise in that capacity.

    To ensure that your contract or written agreements are legally binding and cover you in the event of a discrepancy, contact a lawyer.

    The postal guidelines for making your photography contract first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Darina Kopcok.

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