In this guide, I show you how to choose who to pitch, how to find the right contact information, and how to craft a winning pitch.
I am a food + product photographer & educator specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable brands. When I am not working with clients, I empower creatives to start their journey by sharing my knowledge on the business of food + product photography.
You may not like muddling the fun and creative work that you do with legal documents or rigid client agreements. But sometimes a contract for photography is necessary in order to maintain professionalism between you and your customers.
Even if you already have a standard service provider contract at hand, it may be time to consult with a lawyer. Discuss the specific type of work you do as a photographer to come up with a contract that is more suited to you (and protects your business).
You should use a contract for photography every single time that there is an exchange of money between you and a client for your services. Even if you are working for products, bartering services with a friend, or helping out a family member, it’s never a bad idea to consider utilizing a contract (just in case!).
Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea! The truth is that a contract for photography serves as a written trace of what has been agreed to and eliminates all possible misunderstandings.
Instead of a full-fledged contract, in some instances, having the scope of work and usage rights stated in a signed estimate, invoice, or proposal can be sufficient. As long as the important terms are written down somewhere, you are good to go.
You can start with a free “contract for photography” template from the internet—just make sure that you get it from a reputable source! Some Photographers associations, like APA or PPA (research your local photographers’ associations, too!) will give you access to basic contracts as part of their monthly memberships.
I am currently working with a lawyer to draft a contract template specially tailored for commercial photographers, and it should be ready in a couple of weeks—sign up here if you want to be the first one informed when it goes live!
While a contract template does not replace the advice of a professional lawyer, it can help give you a good starting point.
Still not a fan of the idea? Take a deep dive into the reasons why having a contract for photography is a great plan. To grow your reputation as a photographer, you need to look professional…and a contract is so important to do that.
Wear your contract for photography like a suit of armor: it will protect you from conflict, confusion, and even lawsuits.
You can account for so many details in a simple contract:
It would take a superhero to keep all of that information memorized without a contract for photography. And chances are, if you’ve been hired to document big moments or important images, emotions are running high amongst your clients. You want to have everything spelled out for them to remove any unnecessary stress.
Your goal is to keep things as easy and stress-free for your clients as possible. A contract for photography services will make you look more professional and trustworthy in the long run.
It’s a common misconception among new photographers that asking your clients to read through service agreements is an inconvenience. But that’s just not the case!
In fact, putting your agreement in writing settles everyone’s stomachs and makes the bulk of your interactions together far more relaxed. You’re sure to build better relationships with your clients just by using a contract for photography.
With service agreements available at a glance, there is little room for manipulation or forgetfulness. Let’s face it, even the most responsible clients can glaze over the details of your business transactions. A contract for photography fights against any loss of memory or sense of entitlement in regard to your services.
For example, let’s say that you find some of your images being reproduced in a magazine after telling your client that your pictures were only for online use. On the other hand, maybe you forget to edit some of your images (as promised in your contract) before delivering them to your client.
A contract for photography holds everyone accountable for what they’ve agreed upon.
Once you commit to using a contract for photography, there are a couple of ways to consider sharing it with your clients. Technology makes this easy and stress-free!
If you are already using a customer relationship management system (CRM) like Honeybook or Dubsado, you can use the built-in contract capabilities of those platforms. Just create a new template and paste the text that you want to use directly in the text box. Be sure to save it for future use!
You should create several types of templates for the different types of work you do, such as food photography, recipe creation, or restaurant photography. This way, you won’t have to change the terms of your agreement every time you encounter a similar job.
For photographers who are not currently using a CRM, an online contract tool works well for photography contracts. I recommend using DocuSign. But other options include HelloSign, PandaDoc, or Eversign, to name a few.
Keeping your contract for photography online will considerably simplify your workflow and make it really easy for your clients.
Online contract apps allow you to:
Also, if you are already a Pixieset user, tap into their Studio Manager to create a contract for photography with them! They also help you create invoices and questionnaires, just to keep things interesting.
Wondering when you should send your photography client their contract? Right away!
Be sure to draw up a contract for photography before you do any work. You can get your client on the phone to gather all the relevant information for the job, then send a proposal with your quote and basic terms immediately after.
Once the client has agreed to your terms, you can send a detailed contract that will go over the scope of work, responsibilities, assets, and more. The whole process doesn’t take long and will make the rest of your interactions with the client a breeze.
As a photographer, of course, your focus is creating impeccable work. But taking the time to create a contract for photography services will help simplify your job in the long run. Incorporating photography contracts will make your clients feel more relaxed, sending your business potential through the roof!