The huge elephant in the room – contracts. Some of us use photography contracts, some of us even use them consistently. Then there are those photographers who have never even looked at a contract. Chances are, if you haven’t already, you will run into a nightmare client at some point in your career. You know the saying – one person ruins it for everyone. So is the case for a good, solid contract.
Photography contracts are an important step in the process of your business. They will help lay out the expectations for your client and their session with you. Many of the frequently asked questions from your clients can be answered in your contracts. Contracts are great reference point for clients when they may have a question about when to expect their gallery to be finished or what they can and can’t do with their delivered images. Contracts also help protect you in case anything goes wrong or if you happen to get one of those nightmare clients.
Here are our top three items that should be included in your contract – regardless of whether it’s for a wedding, portrait, family, corporate, or any other client.
Payment Terms and Price
Nobody likes to talk about money; especially when it’s a large chunk of change. Make it easy on yourself by including not only the fees and total price, but also include any payment terms. For example, often times it’s smart to include a retainer for a percentage of the total cost. That should be clearly stated and outlined in your contract.
This includes rights for you and your client. Make it clear that as the photographer and artist, you own the copyright to the images. However, if you allow your clients to re-print the digital files – state that clearly in the contract. Protect yourself, but also leave no question about what your client can, and cannot do, with the images.
Time Period for Delivery
Although we recommend the time frames for delivery be communicated multiple times to your client, we recommend including a section in your contract. This gives your client a firm expectation of when they can expect the final product. Just make sure your time frame is one you can consistently meet; and it would also be smart to include a clause to protect yourself against any unforeseen circumstances that would require you to miss a deadline.
And one final point, make sure that you are sending AND receiving signed contracts. Make it easy on yourself, and your clients, by using an e-contract system like Iris Works. You can create as many contract templates as you need and store them all in your account to easily send to your clients and have them 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.