7 Things You Should Include In Your Photo Contract
A Contract can seem so daunting and impersonal, especially when you’re just beginning to build relationships with your client, but all a contract really is is a written agreement made between you and your client.
A contract details what you expect from your clients and what your client expects from you. In a nutshell it protects you and your client and saves you from the headache of being taken advantage of and unmet expectations.
Let’s go over the essentials to be included in your contract for your clients.
Easy to Understand Language
The thought of using a bunch of “Legalese” can seem annoying and even a bit extra, so I don’t use it. I use plain, easy-to-understand English to communicate to my clients what is to be expected from them and what is expected of me.
My Clients appreciate me being straightforward with them and the use of “Legalese” can definitely develop a distrust between the client and you, as companies use that kind of language to take advantage of their customers.
So keep it as simple and as straightforward as possible.
Your client should be made well aware about your payment policies and preferences straight out the gate including exact amounts, exact dates and payment preferences.
It is best to be upfront with your clients about all of your fees and prices at the beginning of everything, than to wait and add on little fees during the process. This way, you won’t look like you’re nickeling and diming your clients and finding random things to charge them for.
You also want to get the money
Here are a few questions Clients may ask about Payment:
What are your Deposit Amounts, Due Dates and Policies?
Is the Deposit Refundable?
When is the final deposit due?
Do You Have Travel and Hotel Fees?
Do you prefer to get paid with cash, check or with a service (i.e. PayPal, Cash App, Venmo, etc.)
These are just a few questions I’ve gotten from my clients and had I prepared my contracts in advance, it would have saved me from the headache of going back and forth with my clients.
What You Expect from your Clients
You should include what you expect from your clients. From showing up on time, paying on time, choosing which photos that they want you to edit for them, or not having their friends take photos on their phones and cameras while you’re on assignment (Yes! It Happens!), all of your expectations and your “Dos and Don’ts” should be clearly outlined in your contract.
This way, the Client and you are both on the same page. They know what your rules and expectations are and you don’t have a headache at the end of your shoot.
What Your Client Should Expect From You
Much like you naturally have expectations of your clients, your clients will have some of their own. Even though they may not communicate it, they may want you to heavily photoshop their bodies and faces, and you don’t do that (or charge a fee for doing so).
So that your clients aren’t disappointed, and so you are held accountable to what you promise your clients, you should make plain what your clients should expect from you.
Examples of questions they may have:
How many edited photos are they getting from you?
How long will these edits take?
How will you deliver your photos to your client? (i.e. Google Drive, Prints, Books, etc.)
What does your session include? (i.e. Make-Up, Wardrome, Styling Sessions, Designed Backdrops, None Of Those Things)
Be sure to make it plain to your clients.
The Detailed Timeline of Your Assignment
From Booking to The Final Delivery of your photography clients, you should have a detailed outline of the dates and times the client should expect everything.
Here are some examples:
Date Deposit is due
Date and Time of Session
How Long The Session Should Be
Date Client Should Receive their Proofs
Date Client Should Choose Their Proofs (as agreed upon)
Date Client Should Expect to Receive their edited photos
Model Release and Copyright Information
If you plan on using photos from a shoot for promotional, portfolio, and any other purposes, you must include a model release. This gives you permission to use pictures of them for whatever purpose you may need them for.
You also want to include copyright information. Copyrights give you the rights to own the photographs that you take, It’s another way to make known that you own the photos and not the other way around.
You can also include a clause that it the client uses your photos wherever they land and end up, they have to credit you, the photographer.
Policy, Policy, Policy
You should definitely include clauses about your policies when it comes to things like cancellations, refunds and reschedules. If you don’t set those policies in place, your clients can run all over you.
For example, I had a client that was an hour and a half late for their photoshoot. They still wanted to have a full out shoot and I had a bus to catch to get out of town. Needless to say, I missed my bus and I got a ticket on my car because the meter ran over.
They didn’t think anything was wrong with what they had done and to make this all worse, there was nothing I could do to penalize them, because there was no policy on late clients. The least I could have gotten was a tip or an extra charge, but again, I didn’t have my contract to cover me.
Example of Policies You Should Think About Including
Inclement Weather Policy
No Show Policy
While you are putting together your contract, don’t just do what sounds good. Do what you can handle and tolerate. If you don’t want to photoshop bodies, make it clear that you do not do that. If you want require a deposit before you shoot (which you should) make that clear.
Don’t feel like you have to model your contract after anyone else’s. Don’t fear that you won’t get clients. Your perfect clients will find you once you start nailing down what you will and won’t do.
The beauty of a contract is that you get to make up the rules. Within reason, most clients will have no problem with following and meeting your rules.
So let no more assignments go by without a clearly defined contract. Get started on yours today!