The Importance of Having a Contract as a Photographer

I don’t know about you, but the “legal side” of starting your own business can be a little daunting. As a full-time wedding photographer and educator, I’ve been there! If you’ve just began your photography business journey, you may think you don’t need a contract (*hint* you DO). And even if you’ve had your biz for awhile, you want to make sure your contract is solid. So, let’s dive into all the nitty gritty details of the importance of having a contract as a photographer. 

First and foremost, having a contract in place not only protects you as the photographer, but also your clients. Even if you are just starting to build up your portfolio and are taking photos for free; establish a contract. Or maybe you’re doing a shoot for $200; establish a contract. No matter the amount of money or circumstances of a photoshoot, establish a contract. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that point across… why?! 

Why You Need a Contract

Let’s paint a little picture here. You are doing Fall mini sessions this year and are charging $100 for 30 minutes. Every single family and couple you are photographing are personal friends of yours. You tell each client that you’ll send them a link via email once their photos are ready. You tell them they will have access to those photos for life from that online platform. But you don’t have anyone sign a contract because:

1. You know everyone very well.
2. It’s a ‘small’ amount of money.
3. You don’t foresee any risks or future issues.

Flash forward 3 years. You receive an email from your online gallery host telling you they are shutting down and all galleries in your account will be deleted. You reach out to all clients, including those from 3 years ago. Unfortunately, Susan is upset because she was told that she would have access to those photos for life. Even more unfortunately, there was never a contract put in place to remedy these sorts of issues.

Contract = Protecting You and Your Client

While this is an extreme example, it’s a fair one. Not only should your contract outline payment, it should outline how your clients will receive their photos, how long they will have access to the online gallery, any rights to printing, etc. Any little detail you can think of should go in the contract – even for those $100 mini sessions for your friends. As a photographer, you will be protected from disgruntled clients (and have a written, signed account of the agreement), but your clients will know exactly what they can expect from you.The importance of having a contract as a photographer isn’t negotiable. 

So now that you know why you need a contract in place, let me introduce you to my FAVORITE legal resource for all my contracts: Legal Paige. Paige is a lawyer turned entrepreneur serving numerous industries in the creative world. If the thought of writing up your own contract makes you feel ill, CLICK HERE to shop The Legal Paige’s Photographer Contracts. Thank me later 😉

Additional Resources:

Associates vs. Second Shooters
Finding Your Style as a Photographer
How I Backup My Images

*Affiliate Link Disclaimer: If you click the link I’ve provided for Legal Paige, it may be an affiliate link. This means that I will be paid a percentage of qualifying purchases (at no additional cost to you).

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