Photography Contracts: Everything You Need to Know

Before accepting any projects, all photographers need to know the ins and outs of photography contracts. However, many are not aware of all the specifics they need to include in a contract, especially if they are just getting started. 

Yet, a photography contract can cost you your clients. Knowing something like that propels photographers to learn more about this piece of paper that can make or break their business. That’s why we’ve prepared a short but intuitive guide that will tell you everything you need to know about these types of contracts.

Most Common Photography Contracts

Take a look at some of the most common contracts that will help you choose exactly what you need. You can find these free photography contract templates by HoneyBook on their site as well.

  • Photo session agreement
  • Model release statement
  • Property release statement
  • Wedding photography agreement
  • Rights to photographs
  • Long- and short-form statements

Naturally, there are many more photography contracts, but these six are the most common ones. Still, you might come across equipment rental statements, gallery sales, real estate agreements, second shooter agreements, and similar, as well.

Elements of Valid Contracts

To put it simply — a valid contract needs to contain three basic elements. Those are:

  • Offer
  • Acceptance
  • Consideration

What does that mean? The party providing the services — a photographer, in this case — needs to make an offer to the client that indicates the intent to enter a mutual contract.

Naturally, the next step is acceptance. The process of acceptance occurs when the client explicitly states they want to accept the offer.

Lastly, consideration confirms that one party has received something of value from the other party and vice versa. Simply put, this is the part where a photographer receives payment for their work.

Make sure to do everything by the book so as not to have an invalid contract on your hands.

Key Items to Include in the Photography Contract

A photography contract should include a few key things that will prevent any misunderstandings. Let’s go through them.

Cancellation Policy

The cancellation policy is probably one of the most important items in the contract. This policy is supposed to protect the photographer from unexpected money and time loss. The best thing is to be upfront with potential clients. Make sure the client understands that last-minute cancellations are not without consequences.

Late Policy

Similarly, you might want to include a late policy. This is not a must-have for events like weddings that last for the whole day. Instead, this policy is best utilised with photoshoots that only take a few hours, as they might impact your schedule and cause you to rearrange your whole day. It’s up to you whether your late policy will charge a fee or simply cut down the shooting time — just make sure that your clients understand the consequences of being late clearly.


When making a specific photography contract, don’t forget to outline the expectations of both parties. Such outlines will help both sides feel heard and understood, and they will help you avoid any possible misunderstandings. This is also a good place to include the time frame for delivery.

Copyright Policy

The copyright policy is probably something that most clients care about. The idea is that the client can use the photographer’s work and post photos online. This policy means your work doesn’t belong to you, the photographer, but to the client. This also means photographers cannot use those photos anymore, even for advertising. Many professionals make specific deals with clients where not all photos fall under the copyright policy.

Model Release

To follow up, photographers need to include a model release clause in the contract if they plan on using their work elsewhere. This is especially important if minors are involved, as parents or guardians need to sign the contract in order for the photos to be usable. This is an essential part if you plan on using your work for marketing or portfolio purposes.

Transactional Specifics

Lastly, don’t forget to include transactional specifics in every contract. That includes the basics, like the party and photographer names, promised product description, fees, deposit time, due payment date, and location. This is the bare minimum every contract should have.

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