What Is a Photography Contract?
A photography contract is a legally binding written agreement between a photographer and an employer. It outlines everything from the job responsibilities, the payment terms and schedule, copyright ownership, cancellation policy, and much more.
Depending on your area of expertise and your photography business, you may need a specific contract to cover all your requirements. This could be a wedding photography contract, an event photography contract, a portrait photography contract, or even a photography contracts bundle should you offer more than one service to a client.
Note: Ready to get clicking? Sign up to Bonsai now and have your contract finished in minutes.
Why Is a Photography Contract Important?
A photography contract in general is going to keep your business relationship with a client formal and your agreements legally protected. We’ve all heard of clients taking advantage of a photographer, either by ghosting them or refusing to pay. A contract is your safeguard against this kind of behavior.
Below, we’ll cover the three main reasons why a photography contract is important and how it’s going to help you.
Clarifies roles and expectations
No one wants to take on a job not knowing exactly what is expected of you. For photographers, there are many different services you can provide a client, so by having a written agreement you’ll make sure your responsibilities are clear and avoid any miscommunication.
This section should be one of the first things you discuss with the client. If the services you offer don’t align with the client’s expectations, then you won’t have wasted too much time when you decline their proposal.
Protects both parties
One big advantage of a photography contract is that it’s going to protect the interests of both parties.
Whether it’s an unforeseen circumstance, a dispute over services provided, or issues with payment details, a contract is going to make sure everything you agreed to is in writing and understood by each party.
Sets out payment conditions and work hours
A photography contract is also going to set out your payment terms, including your rates and the dates you will be paid.
You should outline your working hours as well, stating your start and end date, when in the day you’ll begin, and when you’ll have your breaks. This is a good opportunity to agree to any overtime charges.
Who Is This Contract Template For?
A photography contract template is for any photographer who knows they’ll be getting more clients in the future and wants to steamroll through the negotiation stages (without the risk of missing out on something important).
Creating your own photography contract template can take a lot of time, effort, and legal advice (and fees) to make sure it’s a legally binding document. You can make this process a lot easier on yourself by using one of Bonsai’s free photography contract templates. They’re all vetted by legal experts and hundreds of freelancers like yourself, so you can have some peace of mind that your interests will be protected when you and your client come to an agreement.
What Should Photography Contracts Include?
Whether you're a wedding photographer, a portrait photographer, or a commercial photographer, all photography contracts will need to include certain essential elements.
While only you can know everything you specifically need for your own photography contract, below are some of the key elements to include (with further explanations):
- Contact details of both parties
- Deliverables and their costs
- Date and times of service
- Cancellation policy
- Force majeure and liability
- Travel and expenses
- Termination of the contract
- Other elements to consider
Contact details of both parties
Contact details of both parties should include your names (including company names if required), the job description, and the preferred method of contact. You may also want to include a physical address for shipment or invoicing reasons.
Deliverables and their costs
For every service you offer, you should have a certain cost assigned to it. This is so the client can pick and choose everything they want from you and know what the cost is going to be.
Date and times of service
Remember to include your start date, end date, and any breaks you’ll take throughout the session. Some photographers also offer touch-up and editing services post-session, which should be outlined here too.
Unforeseen circumstances can lead to an event being canceled or postponed. For this reason, you should have a cancelation policy and a non-refundable deposit in place.
Force majeure and liability
Meaning ‘Force Superior’ in French, this term is based on the fact that there are unavoidable events that can stop you from delivering the work. By including this in your photography contract, you can waive liability should anything like this occur which stops you from completing the job.
Include any copyright clauses that you need to, which can include the transfer of ownership and permissions given.
Travel and expenses
Offering photography services almost always means you’re traveling somewhere and even staying overnight in another town. It’s important to include any expenses that you are likely to accumulate and how the client will reimburse you.
Termination of contract
Every signed contract should include reasons for terminating the contract. This could be when you hand over the photos, the final payment, or for any reasons that both parties agree to.
Other elements to consider
You may want an agreement around being the only photographer at an event. You can also include details on any second shooter contracts.
Sometimes, faulty equipment can affect even the most experienced and professional photographers. It’s a good idea to outline who is liable in these situations.
Sometimes you’ll be requested to print pictures or to use a Polaroid camera during your session. Include who’s liable should any printing errors occur.
This can occur when there’s bad lighting or color which affects the quality of an image. Outline your responsibility should this happen.
A suitable replacement photographer
You can’t be everywhere at once! Photographers can overbook themselves, so include an agreement around hiring a replacement photographer.
Sample Commercial Photography Contract
Sign up to Bonsai now for free and start creating your photography contract. It includes all the basic requirements a photographer needs in their contract. You can also edit and customize it to your liking.
Photography Contract FAQs
In 2020, the average cost of a photographer throughout the U.S was almost $20 per hour or $41,280 annually. Of course, whatever you charge now will depend on what type of photography you offer, your experience, what state or city you’re based in, and even the individual you’re dealing with.
Do photographers need contracts?
Yes, of course! Photography is a well-known business and is very important for companies and private events. To have some peace of mind about security, and to show professionalism, a legally binding contract is always a good idea.
Can I write my own photography contract?
You can, but you’ll need to put a lot of time, effort, and resources into making it a professional and legally binding document—this means hiring a lawyer to write it for you.
At Bonsai, we make it a whole lot easier for you by offering a bundle of vetted and free contract templates. Whether you’re a wedding photographer, a commercial photographer, or just getting started—one of our free photography contract templates will work for you.