Let’s talk contracts. I know thinking about legal stuff is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but without contracts, your business is not secure at all!
The importance of secure contracts for photographers really can’t be overstated. Contracts are legal documents that are signed by all parties involved in a business transaction (you and the wedding couple you’re photographing, usually), that outline responsibilities, costs, cancellation policies, and more.
I’ve put together this legal guide for photographers to help you wrap your head around what photography contracts are, why they matter, and how to use them correctly.
I can’t say this enough: understanding the importance of a photography contract should be the first step for anyone running a professional business. I know you’ve bought that new $2,000 lens for your camera, but have you invested in iron-clad contracts for your business?
In a COVID world, we KNOW how hectic life can be with cancellations and changes to travel plans, so protecting yourself against losses is more important than ever before.
Most photographers I mentor don’t have quality contracts – this means if they have a client cancel at the last minute, for example, they have no legal recourse for getting funds owed to them. Put simply, using the stock-standard template contract that comes with your CRM doesn’t protect you enough, leaving you vulnerable. No way am I going to let that happen to you!
You may have wondered how to write a photography contract of your own. Trust me, I’ve looked into this – but without a law degree, you’re not going to come up with something legally binding that will protect your business.
I use contracts from The Legal Paige and I recommend them to everyone I mentor. You really need to invest in solid contracts like these.
Before I found The Legal Paige, I had bought quite a few other contracts. Sure, I sent them off to clients, but I never fully understood what they meant, what I was signing, or what my clients were signing. That was… not good.
You should be able to explain every section of your contract to your clients. It’s simply good business practice. Also, your contracts protect your cash money, so it’s 110% in your best interests to understand how they work!
I’ve found that Paige’s contracts are very easy to understand and customizable to your specific needs – no legal degree needed to figure them out.
With The Legal Paige, you’ll find contracts specifically designed for photographers – score! Our businesses have unique needs, so this is a huge win.
I also love that Paige’s contracts are updated for you. You only need to buy them once, and she automatically sends you updates as the industry changes. Trust me, it feels flippin’ good to know that a lawyer has got your back!
As a wedding and elopement photographer, there are a few contracts I use. However, different photographers may have different needs, so be sure to have contracts that cover every type of shoot that you offer.
I know this can be a bit tricky, but let me explain!
If you’re only going to buy one contract, make it this one! The Wedding Contract covers most of the main issues that face traditional wedding photographers, from clients who don’t want to pay to anyone asking for a refund due to unforeseen circumstances.
With the Wedding Contract (and all of Paige’s contracts, in fact), remember that you can add your own details and personalize them for your business.
As someone who does a lot of destination elopements (hello, Bonneville Salt Flats!), I was so psyched to find the Adventure Elopement Contract. This is super unique and covers photographers who do elopements with factors such as safe working conditions, travel delays, and limitation of liability.
Sadly, a cancellation can happen at any time, especially in the wedding industry. So what does this mean for you, as a photographer?
It means you need to protect yourself with a solid cancellation contract, like this bad boy.
Do you ever work with a second photographer or videographer? If so, don’t leave home without the Second Shooter Contract. It covers key issues that often come up when working with a second shooter, including image usage, solicitation, and independent contractor status.
But Steph, how can I decide which contracts are best? I hear ya, which is why I recommend the Wedding & Elopement Photography Bundle, which includes everything you need.
I also highly suggest purchasing some clauses to add to your contracts. I know this may seem daunting, but it’s simpler than it sounds – a clause just spells out certain conditions and terms.
Clauses are great to add to a contract you already own. Here are the ones I always use.
Every business NEEDS COVID-19 policies, as it’s still such a wildcard. This uber-useful COVID-19 Clause will outline your COVID rescheduling and refund policies.
For photographers who make custom albums for clients, this clause will save you so many future headaches!
The Album Clause spells out to your clients how much time they have to select their photos and how their album will be designed, as well as explaining that the album cost is non-refundable.
As someone who often shoots in national parks, this clause is SO IMPORTANT to me! The Leave No Trace Clause explains your ethics about working in and protecting our natural environment and gives you the right to terminate any contract if clients act unethically in nature.
Now that you know why you need a photography contract, check out The Legal Paige! You will be SO HAPPY with your new contacts and I promise they’ll more than pay for themselves over time.
Have any questions about using contracts? If so, hit me up and let’s get you legal!