A photography contract, also called an agreement or engagement, is a legally binding agreement between yourself and your potential customer as the model or subject of a photography session.
The phrase “model” can generally refer to anyone or any entity that you have established a professional relationship with in that capacity.
However, for purposes of clarity, the term can also refer to you, the model or subject of the photography session. In short, the contract helps to ensure that both you and your potential client understand the parameters of the photography session, what is covered by the contract, and what is not covered.
What to include in a photography contract varies depending on the model or subject of the photography.
For example, if you are photographing a pregnant woman, then your photography contract might have sections entitled “risings,” “expenses,” and “wages.”
These sections should outline the amount of money that will be paid to you, when the money will be paid, and the manner in which you will be paid.
What to include in a photography contract also depends on the type of image rights that you are offering. In most states, you are required to have a release form signed by the model or subject of the photograph.
The release protects you and the person or entity that you are photographing from being held liable for any damage or loss that is suffered by the person or entity during the course of the photo shoot. (This section of the contract is almost always referred to as a “liability release.”)
Other sections of what to include in a photography contract vary depending on what image rights you are seeking.
For example, if you are offering exclusive image rights to a new client, you will need to include that information in the contract.
The term “exclusive” means that the client will have exclusive rights to use the image in any way that he or she sees fit. This section will also explain what happens if the client doesn’t use the image correctly.
For example, if you are photographing a model with too much skin or hair, you might not want to publish the image. (Even though it would be legal to do so under your contracts with the models, it could result in a lawsuit.)
What to include in a photography contract about refunds is often referred to as a “return policy.” Most contracts will state that you have up to three days after the date of the photograph to request a refund.
The contract might also include a section that says you are required to provide proof that the person(s) whose image was used has given express permission to be photographed.
(You should consult a lawyer if you need advice about what to include in a photography contract about refunds.) If the person or studio that sold you the image isn’t willing to offer you a refund, you should consider not using the picture.
What to include in a photography contract about compensation is often left up to the discretion of the contract. You can expect the photographer to be paid per image, per completion, or a combination of all three.
Some contracts might even allow for set up costs only, meaning that you only pay if and when the job is completed. If you are just beginning to make freelance photography a career, you may be able to get by with the lower compensation provided by your first contract.
What to include in a photography contract about stock images is pretty standard and should be included by every contract. Most photographers will agree to a set amount per image and won’t charge extra for images that aren’t considered “stock.”
What to include in a contract about stock images varies greatly depending on the industry you work in, so be aware before you begin in writing.
For instance, if you are an action photographer, most companies won’t require you to submit pre-composed work before they’ll consider you for an assignment.
If you are interested in commercial work, you’ll want to include detailed descriptions of the types of subjects you have shot, preferably with pictures. If you have a portfolio of your work, you’ll want to mention it also.
The last item on what to include in a photography contract that usually causes confusion is the section about intellectual property.
A contract will generally define what you are allowed to do with the images you have hired. It’s always a good idea to include a section about this; it ensures that the photographer won’t be able to use your images in a way that would be unfair.
You can find out what to include in a contract by reading it online, but don’t rely on what it says as your final decree. Contact a professional lawyer if you have any questions.