Hiring a lawyer to make a customized contract is expensive. Finding a ready-made and free contract template is complicated and risky. Customizing a contract can cost $800 or more, when you add in special considerations and clauses.
In doing my own research of 262 professional photographers, admittedly not scientific, I came to the conclusion that most photographers — even those who make their living entirely with photography — are not willing to spend this amount. Most prefer to take their chances, either working without a contract or writing one themselves without the benefit of legal advise.
Here is the result of the survey in graphic form, according to the type of photographers, in response to the question: As a photographer, do you use a contract with your customers?
Several photographers who earn all or most of their income through photography, are playing with fire. 25% of them reported not having a contract. A verbal agreement seems to be sufficient, despite the high risk that involves. 13% have paid a lawyer, 17% use a template they bought or found, and 29% have tried to make one themselves.
Among those who want to earn a living with photography or earn part of their income from photography, only 1% paid a lawyer. Others turned mainly to ready-made templates or made one themselves.
Not surprisingly, no amateur photographer has spent a large amount of money to use the services of a lawyer. For the few contracts they had, more than half acted solely on the good faith of both parties. Others did a bit of research to find a model (11%) or else made one themselves (31%).
Obviously, it makes me sad that many photographers are working without a contract or with a document that they made themselves. However, because it is so expensive to use the services of a professional, I can understand.
How often I have seen, in different groups or forums for photographers, a question like « Such a thing happened to me with a client. I didn’t have a contract, what are my options? » Without a contract, the photographer’s only option is to chalk that one up to experience and move on…
Even amateur photographers organizing shooting sessions with friends or amateur models volunteering their time often have problems. Sometimes by ignorance, sometimes by bad faith, the photo is found to be used commercially and the photographer is unable to do anything about it, when a very simple contract would protect the photographer.
Spend $ 800 to have a contract reviewed and approved by a lawyer? What if I offered you a contract you could use starting from $ 25?
With the help of my lawyer, we have made 7 contract templates covering 7 specific situations. Essentially, we have up to 7 contracts which have been read, edited, and approved by a lawyer specializing in business law for your use. The basic edition containing two contract templates is available for $ 25, while the complete edition of 7 is available for $ 85.
What does that include?
Contract template: basic edition ($ 25 – a value of $ 800 +)
Two templates of low-price contracts: one for TFP-TFCD photos (without exchange of money between the model and the photographer) and one for family photos
01 – TFP PHOTOGRAPHY CONTRACT
This contract template was developed with the TFP/TFCD (Time for Print/Time for CD) sessions in mind. The contract clauses are reduced to a minimum, to make for a simple and clear document explaining the photographer’s and the model’s rights when a photo session is organized without any payment being required from either one of the parties. The photographer gives his or her time and talent as a photographer. The model gives his or her time, “look”, and image. Each party may then use the photographs for his or her self-promotion, but never in a commercial context.
02 – FAMILY PORTRAIT CONTRACTS
A contract drafted in more “mainstream” terms, for family, individual, children and baby portraits.
• A ready to use PDF version of each contract
• A fully customizable Word version of each contract. Which can be integrated into your submission or billing systems.
• An explanation of the reason for the presence of certain clauses in plain English
• Customizable clauses according to your needs or preferences.
Contract templates – complete edition ($ 85 – a value of $ 1500 +)
All that is in the basic edition, as well as:
03 – CORPORATE PORTRAIT CONTRACTS
For individual or group portraits that will be used for a commercial purpose. It can be a simple “headshot” against a white background, or a more elaborate portrait on the business’s premises, such as portraits for real estate agents, or portraits for the “About Us” pages of a company website. If the use is more important and forms part of an advertising campaign, the template “Commercial Contracts” might be more appropriate.
04 – WEDDING CONTRACTS
A civil or religious wedding.
05 – EVENT CONTRACTS
The event contract template must be used when covering a convention, a corporate event, etc. Typically, it is a contract where you are being paid by the hour, but not necessarily.
06 – COMMERCIAL CONTRACTS
Use this template if your client is a company, an organization or an institution, and you are taking photographs for commercial or advertising purposes.
07 – PHOTO LICENCE
This template must be used when a client wishes to purchase a licence to use a photograph from your archives. Particular attention is given to the authorizations from models and properties (model releases) that you have (or do not have), and the consequences thereof are detailed for the client’s benefit.