Things to Include in a Contract

Photography is one of the trickiest arts. If you are a sculptor, there is a physical product. People are aware of the physical effort that goes into scuplting. If you are a painter, they can see you paint. But as a photographer, they see you simply walk around with a camera. With the advent of digital cameras, camera phones and Instagram filters, everyone can seem to be a great photographers.

Photography has become an impulse, not a process of thought.

When you are involved in commercial photography, this perception can actually backfire. A very notable man who was once a client said “Let her go home. I have a very fancy camera in my office. We can get that and take equally get photographs.” This was in response to my statement that I was packing up since I had already shot 2 hours beyond deadline, and there was no extra pay (and they wanted me to shoot till 1.00 AM – 3 more hours!)

Moving on, the perception here was simply that a fancy camera could do the job of a photographer – and we face this quite often. Hence, the contract.

The contract needs to stipulate the exact work involved and the outcomes. This saves both parties quite a lot of heartache and headache.

This blog focuses primarily on wedding photography, but you can adapt it to most forms as required.

The Basics:

  1. The date and time of the shoot:
    Yes. Really basic. But start there. Specify it. You do not want someone (either you or the client) coming back and saying “I never said that date / time”
  2. Venue:
    We plan our shoots. This means venue is an important part of the shoot. So specify it, so there is no confusion
  3. Duration of the shoot:
    Do you charge per hour? Do you charge based on the number of photographs? In either case, specify the amount of time that you are to shoot. You might get your 50 photographs in the first hour but the client expects you to shoot for another two hours. Specify additional charges per hour, if any.
  4. The number of photographs:
    Even if you are charging per hour, specify an average number of photographs the client can expect. Humans work best when they have a goal, when they know what to look forward to. If you shot for 8 hours straight and give the client 200 absolutely stunning images, there will be a question – hate to ask but are there more?
  5. What your fee entails:
    Your photography fee, the editing charges, equipment, travel and so on. Springing up a surprise related to budgets on a wedding couple can be quite cruel.
  6. Delivery dates:
    When do you hope to give the photographs?
  7. Format of photographs:
    Oh the ever challenging question. Put in black and white. Are you going to give JPEGs? Are you going to give TIFF? Are they high res? Are you giving a low-res version? Will your watermark be on the images? Are you giving prints? Are you sharing them on a photo sharing platform?
  8. Public Sharing:
    Who owns the photographs? Can the client share your photos without mentioning your name? Can you use the photographs for your promotion? Can you use it in a magazine?
  9. Payment schedules and terms:
    When? How much? Where? Define it.
  10. Then there are other questions like:
  • How many prints?
  • Are you giving an album or a coffee table book?
  • Who chooses the photographs
  • Who designs the book
  • Are there extra charges
  • When do they get the book

Do you have more points to add in the contract? Mention it in the comments and I’ll add it to the post!

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