How long should a photography contract last?

Photographers should be using a photography services contract for all of their sessions – paid and nonpaid. If you aren’t using a contract and not sure what to include, check out last week’s blog for some key tips on what to include in your contracts.

The content that you put in your contracts is very important, but have you ever thought about what you should be doing with those contracts after they’re signed? One key question that photographers ask when creating contracts is how long a contract for photography services should last.

In this blog, we’ll talk about best practices for contracts including how long a contract should last, how long to give your clients to sign a contract, and storing your clients’ contracts.

How long should I keep a signed photography service contract?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule of how long to keep a photography contract.  Our great friend Rachel Benke from The LawTog made a good point once when comparing contracts to keeping tax documents. Most would recommend keeping tax documents for 7 years – so some would say keeping your photography contracts for the same length of time is a good rule of thumb. However, the longer you can keep a contract on file – the better! You never know when an issue might arise and need that contract for reference and legal purposes.

How long should I give a client to sign their photography service contract?

If you have been in the business for some time and are sending contracts, you have likely expierenced this situation. You get an inquiry, the client is ready to move forward and you send their contract. Days pass, weeks pass, and no signed contract. What should you do?

It is important to set deadlines for your clients to complete required steps for booking. Giving your client a deadline to sign their contract before it expires and you release their date to other clients might be the push they need to finalize booking with you. Let your clients know how long they have to sign the contract before it is no longer valid and you release the date to someone else. The time frame you give is up to you and your personal preferences for how long you would like to tentatively hold that date for the client. You can choose to give them a few days to complete or up to one week, depending on the session type you are shooting. 

To make things easier and guarantee your client signs the contract promptly, with Iris you can choose to include a contract on your online booking calendar. When your client is booking, they’ll be required to review and sign their contract in order to book their session with you. 

photography service contract online booking
photography services contract
Digital Contracts

Sending and storing contracts is much easier these days with options for digital contracts. No more need to track down your client with a paper contract to have them sign and then storing in a file cabinet. With Iris – you can send contracts to your client’s email, collect their signature electronically, and their contracts will be stored in their client profile.

Always Back Up

Just as you would back up your image files from your sessions, it is best practice to back up your important documents for your clients. Technology can break or you might accidentally delete your client’s profile (it happens!), so having your most important client documents backed up in a secondary location is always a good idea. Here are some options to consider for keeping. a back up of your contracts:

– external hard drive




Iris Works makes it easy to send and receive signed photography service contracts! Make life easier for your business, and your clients, by using an e-contract system like Iris Works.  In Iris Works, you can create as many photography service contract templates as needed and save them in your account.  The contracts for photography services templates can be easily sent to your clients for them to  electronically sign.

We now offer a free photography contract for all Iris users. Edit and redesign this general template to fit your business and specific needs.



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