Free Photography Contract Written by a Lawyer

If you’re in the middle of wading through the legal aspects of setting up a photography business, you know there are a million things to figure out.  I’d like to take one off the table for you by giving you the photography contracts that I use in my own photography business.

The cool part?  I’ll give you the most popular photography contract absolutely free!

If you like it and decide you want to get all seven of the most commonly used photography contracts from me, it’s only $15 to get the entire package.  Yep, $15 total.  Click here to buy them.

Get the free general photography contract right here in PDF form (the editable .doc form is only provided in the paid download).  This is a contract that is suitable for many casual photography shoots.  It’s not as comprehensive as the long form of the contract, but it’s legally binding and will be very valuable for many different types of photography.

contract

Photography Contracts Available in the Download

  • Long-form general photography contract – this is suitable for baby, senior portrait, engagement, and family shoots.  It covers all your bases in explicit detail.
  • Short form general photography contract – Let’s face it.  No client likes to get a super long contract that makes them sign away every human right they’ve ever had.  And you don’t want to have to fill out a million boxes just to book a simple shoot.  This contract is the shortened version of the general contract for simple photography shoots where a huge contract isn’t necessary.
  • Model release – I can’t stand most model releases.  They are SOOO long and make the model fill out SOOO much information that it takes forever and frankly isn’t necessary.  You can cover yourself and get a legally binding model release much simpler with this contract.  However, I would recommend using one of those very long and annoying model releases if you are shooting a celebrity or another very high risk shoot (celebrities are magnets for law suits).
  • Real estate photography contract – Real estate photography is quite different than most portrait photography, so it has its own contract.
  • Wedding photography contract – Since weddings are usually a higher-dollar shoot and involve many more complicated parts, my wedding photography contract is much better suited to a wedding than the general contract.
  • Photo licensing agreement – This is the contract that few photographers bother with, but is CRITICAL to have!  When you sell a photo to a company for use on a website, or you allow a photo to be used commercially, you NEED a good photo license agreement that spells out exactly how you’re allowing the company or individual to use your photo.
  • Second shooter contract – If you ever have a photo assistant, you absolutely MUST be clear as to what photos they own, and how they can use the photos from the shoot.  You also need to be clear about how much you pay them, what they can and can’t do, and how they should deliver the photos to you.  This is another one that photographers often skip over because they don’t have a contract written yet, but it’s a critical contract to fill out.

Are the contracts legally binding?

There are a lot of shoddy contracts available on the internet, usually written by bloggers who have absolutely no idea the type of meticulous language that needs to go into a contract.  That can spell DISASTER for a photographer.  Worse yet is a contract written by a lawyer who doesn’t understand the common issues that photographers face.  Since I’m both a full-time photographer and a licensed attorney, I think I’m in a unique position to provide you with the ULTIMATE contract package for photographers.

The key to any good contract is simply to explain in ABSOLUTELY CLEAR fashion what each party to the contract is expected to do.  Therefore, it would be foolish to take these contracts exactly as they are written and implement them directly into your business.  I have carefully written these contracts to work in many situations, but you need to go in and customize them to fit what you do.  For example, I always ask for a 50% deposit when booking a shoot.  If you do things differently, you’ll have to go into the contract and change that to be the amount you ask for as a deposit.

What format are the contracts written in?

I include the contracts in both PDF and doc format.  If you want to simply print the contracts and fill them out on paper, the PDF is the best option because it’s already nicely formatted.  If you’d like to fill out the contracts yourself, I include the doc version as well.  Very few lawyers allow their contracts to be downloaded in a DOC format because they don’t want you to alter and steal them.  I’m not worried about that.  I want you to be able to customize the contracts to meet your needs.

Why can’t I write my own contracts?

You certainly can, but you could also make some massive mistakes by doing so.  For example, many photography contracts say that a client needs to pay a DEPOSIT and then a final payment.  Then the contract states that if the client cancels the shoot, the photographer doesn’t have to give the money back.  WRONG!  In almost every state, the photographer would have to give the money back.

However, a simple change of wording can make it so the photographer keeps the deposit if the client cancels.  All you need to say is that the payment is an INITIAL PAYMENT and state that the purpose is to reserve the photographer’s time.  Otherwise, it’s treated as an unearned retainer.

Is it hard to fill these out?

Definitely not!  I intentionally made these contracts dead simple to use.  I’m a photographer too.  I know how people look at you cross-wise when they see a 3 page model release and may not want to sign it.  I intentionally wrote it in as short and simple a way as possible while still covering the bases.

Why are you selling these for $15!??!?!?!?

When I set out to create Improve Photography years ago, I determined that one of my missions was to keep training and other products for photographers at a reasonable price.  Money doesn’t grow on trees at my house either.  I want good, solid contracts to be within the grasp of ANY photographer.

As a lawyer, if a client wanted a contract I would charge $250–per contract!  So you’re getting an unbelievable steal of a deal.  You can buy the $15 contracts by clicking here.

Important Legal Information

These contracts are being made available without any guarantee that they cover all legal questions your business may face.  These contracts are not guaranteed in any way.  By downloading these contracts, you agree that you will never host these contracts online, distribute them to any third party, transmit them to any third party, or sell these contracts.  By downloading these contracts, you are granted a license to use these contracts for you personally, or for a photography business that you own.  You are not authorized to sell these contracts or to publish or transmit these contracts to any third party except as provided in Fair Use.  Basically, I want you to be able to use these contracts for your business, but understand that I still own the copyright to these contracts.  These contracts are written and published and owned and distributed by Improve Photography LLC.


About the Author

Improve Photography

This post is a guest post by a reader of Improve Photography.

Comments

  1. Thank you very much Jim! I am very looking forward to the IP Network of podcasts getting bigger. Really looking forward to the Flash/Portrait show

    1. @Oscar – Glad you’re enjoying the podcasts. The new nature photography show is soon to be released!

  2. I am relatively new to my photography business, with my license pending. If I wrote up a contract myself, is that enough or does it have to go through some legal/notorizing process before it is valid to use?

    1. @Gabby – There is no license needed to be a photographer. Do you mean registering an LLC?

      Yes, you can write up your own contract, but read the above about the dangers of doing so. You can really create a mess if you miss certain things in a contract.

      If you can’t afford the $10, PLEASE at least download the free general contract. It’d be SOOO much better than something homemade.

  3. Thank you!!! This is exciting, as I am in the early stages of starting my own business.

    Maria

  4. I’m an architectural photographer (don’t do portraits at all). I mostly work with builders, architects, and designers. Do you have a contract that is more suitable for this type of photography?

  5. I have the opportunity to photograph and video some local bands, will these contracts work for my needs, the proprietor who is promoting them keeps telling me that the work I will be doing is owned by him.?

  6. I have only taken up photography seriously this year and had not even considered the necessity for a contract until I read your email – many thanks for making me aware of this and for the Improve Photography tips etc. which I enjoy tremendously.

    1. I would like to know the legal implications of using these in the UK as well.
      Thanks Jim

  7. This is a nice little pack of reference contracts — it’s always good to have some of these contracts on file. I was surprised to see the model release didn’t accommodate parents signing for minors, like high school seniors, etc. I know I’d find such a variation useful.

    1. I’ll work on adding a contract for a minor and will update the bundle and send out the addition to those who have purchased. Good idea.

  8. I tried to purchase but I’m getting an error message when I try to checkout with paypal. It says “404 Not Found”

  9. Thanks Jim. I’ve looked at other contracts online in places like PPA and these are some of the best I’ve seen. I’ll definitely be using these as a model for my own releases.

  10. Hi Jim. I purchased these contracts on 10/20, I thought I downloaded them, but I can’t find them anywhere in my downloads or documents. Can you tell me where to go to try and download them again? I can’t seem to find how to get to them without purchasing again.

    Thank you,
    Lisa Magee

  11. Thanks for these. Just starting a part time business (well, at the beginning of the year) so these are super-duper helpful. I’d love to see you add a contract specific to pet photography. Actually, maybe a post on pet photography and what insurance is needed, etc. to reassure the client that the photographer is covered if their pet bites (or poops on) the photographer. haha

  12. I downloaded the contract package and would like to know if the model is a minor, would you just add a signature line for the parent/guardian?

  13. Thank you so much for doing this Jim! I admire you and the rest of the Improve Photography crew. Your website, podcasts, and all the content you produce has proven to be a HUGE resource for me. I appreciate it sincerely. Keep up the great work!

  14. Hi Jim, thank you so much for write up. It is extremely helpful to me. I am about to purchase your contracts (its a incredible value). There is a good chance that I will be shooting some commercial photos such as (artificial turf installed for park, residential home, school play fields. Will any of your contact cover these types of work ? If so which one ? Thank you.

  15. Hi Jim, Thank you for making this available. I also appreciate how you formatted the Capitalization to show where to modify the documents.
    Keep up the GREAT work with the podcast and the fantastic support of the photography community.

  16. Hello Jim,

    I thank you oh so much and I will be Purchasing the package. This means a great deal to me knowing I was missing something to fill what was in the back of my mind. Like you said you cant write your Own Contracts because their will be falter later on and you just don’t know when that is. I’ve always known I needed one even after going through some Photography Schooling Online. But, they never let you know where to get them. My good friend and I always talk about our business to see whats missing and this is one of them. I will be sending her the link as well. She was duped once because of not Detailing to the client of how the Images could be used or sold (Not). Thanks again. this was something I was looking for today and your site was the first one I looked at. I thank God has a plan and he allows us to get what we need when we truly need it. Thanks much…

    I will be following your site to help improve what I can do for my Business and share with others too……

  17. What about minors? If I am doing a family shoot and there are of course the children of the parents who signed the contract, does the standard contract or the long form cover my ability to use the likeness of a minor for media purposes?

  18. I had hoped the the contract would include the issue of clients who are under 18. Do you have a time frame for that because all of my clients have children who are in the photos and I do not want to cross that boundary. I am super stoked about the contracts though! Thanks for making these.

  19. Where can I get a good birth photography contract? I am planning on starting to photograph a few this year, I would assume it would be similar to a wedding contract, being an event as opposed to portraiture. Any advice would be great!

  20. I need contracts for Birth & minors as well. Do you have any plans to include these in your package?

    Thank You

  21. Hi I’m a model who signed a release form/contract with a photographer but we got into a disagreement and breech our contract. Can I sue him for copyright and make the contract null and void and rights to the photos?

  22. I am based in Ireland and I am about to purchase these – for $15 – are these suitable for use in Ireland?
    I will wait for your reply,
    Best wishes,
    Gary.

  23. Hello, I’m new starting out with my photography business. I’d like to have a contract for my pro bono work. I’ll be a doing free projects until I get my business started. I would like the contract to say that I am doing the services for free, but I have the right to used the images for business/marketing purposes, etc. Is it possible to pay extra to get that contract added to the original 7 you provide?

  24. Thank you, dear! My biggest passion is photography and I will definitely use these for my shoots. I’m in the process of photographing young, charming men for my own publicity purposes and I needed legal documents to doctor and pose as being a legit clothing lines’. This will certainly help as a starting point and I can’t thank you anymore! Be sure to check me out on Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook @Enchantedbleu

  25. I am considering the purchase but I need to know if these files were ever updated to include minors. Was this updated? Thank you!

  26. I’m just starting out as a wildlife photographer and I’m wondering what (if any) contracts I would need? I will likely sell the majority of my work as prints to customers. I may do some pet photography/dog training photography, so I thought maybe I would need a contract for those clients. I read the short form general contract and noticed it basically pertains to weddings, engagements, family, baby, and elderly portraits. Would it also work in the situation I’m in? Thanks for your time!

  27. Jim,

    I have a bundle deal that covers multiple sessions for 1 yr of such as maternity to 1st Birthday. I tell the clients that these have to be paid in full by the first session. I do this so that they don’t get the discount and then never use me again. What verbiage can be added into the short/long form for this. Thanks. I will be purchasing your bundle as well.

  28. Hello, I was wondering if any of these would be acceptable for shooting a concert?

  29. Can you do contacts for photography books? I’m not sure what the rules are but I’d like to have permission to promote / advertise with the photos too incase something was to come up where I’d have the opportunity to do so

  30. Jim,
    Thank you for this valuable service. When I try to open the word version I downloaded today I received this error message:
    “The file IP-ContractPurchase . . . . . cannot be opened because there are problems with the contents”

    I’m running Microsoft Office 2007 on a Windows 10 machine.

    Ron

    1. @Ron P. – That’s odd. Works just fine on my Mac and Windows 10 machine. Email us at store@improvephotography.com and we’ll get to the bottom of it for you. Sorry about the error if there actually is something wrong. But hundreds have purchased this without issue, so this is definitely odd.

      1. Thanks for your quick reply Jim,
        After trying multiple ways to get them open if I click on “NO” when I get asked to search for a program
        on the web to open it then “viola” it opens?! I then have to save it without the IP- in the name and they’re fine.

        Anyway, thanks for the great product!
        Ron

  31. I would like to down load the complete set. Will it be sent to me after payment? Can I view they style? Am I able to add my company name or logo?

    Thanks so much!
    What licenses do you recommend a photographer to have, since tech they don’t need a business license but there is mandatory tax licenses!

    1. Hi Sabrina. Yes, you can easily add your name and logo. It’s in a word doc format so you have full reign. Hope it’s helpful for you!

  32. Thank you soooooo much!!! Nice to have affordable resources out there as I navigate this world of photography as a business owner. 🙂

  33. Hello,
    I am so thankful for your resources. I have been a listener for a while now. And when I needed a real contract I did not even think of going anywhere else. I truly trust everything you offer and cant wait for the mouthy subscription to your other resources soon coming.
    Thank you again.

  34. Thank you for a great deal on your seven contracts. PDF’s were great but word doc didn’t work. No worry’s though. I was able to copy and paste and everything is printed the way I want them.

    Joseph

  35. The contracts are great. I love that your package has contracts for other types of photography and practices. I also appreciate the prompt response I received for resolving technical issues for opening the documents.

  36. Thank you for this! It’s a great place to start for anyone overwhelmed in beginning in the business of photography.

  37. I’ve been asked to do photos for several people after they saw my work. I don’t have a license and don’t make people sign a contract but charge a tiny fee for my time. Do I need a contract or a license?

  38. I would like to purchase the bundle of contract but the link for paypal etc doesnt work. Can you assist me please?

  39. Hi Jim,

    Does the Real Estate contract also now include aerial services?

    Thanks,
    Dave Steckler

  40. Hello,
    I want to tell you this was my go to while starting my business. I am doing 3d scans of home and commercial. I am also a realtor. I wanted to see if there was a contract you could make appropriate from my business. Ty

  41. Can these contracts be filled out by the client online? Or are they only printable? Thank you!

  42. Hi there!
    I purchased the contract but my question is : Does it has to be approved by the lawyer before working with this contract at all? Or I can use it just as it is, changed for my need and it will have the power as soon as it’s signed?
    Thank you a lot!

  43. Purchasing right now! I am SO glad I found this site. Thanks for helping us out.

  44. This is so great! I’m really starting to finally put the leg work into my photography business and I think this will really help smooth out the process! 🙂

    Also, any one who’s into Instagram, check me out @staciestruble, let’s connect!

  45. My colleagues required KE KRA Form I.T.1 a few weeks ago and were informed of a company that hosts 6 million forms . If others want KE KRA Form I.T.1 too , here’s https://goo.gl/jvrlDR.

  46. downloaded the free one! This is perfect coming from someone who just started her own business!!
    how do I purchase the contracts though??

  47. Thanks so much for these contracts! Was curious if they ever made a model release for an underage model (say for senior photo’s) let me know! Thanks!

  48. Hi, I was wondering if you have a separate contract for commercial photography(company not individual(s)) – look books, advertising image etc, or if you could advise what template to alter to cater specifically to commercial clients?

  49. If I have a client not wanting their pictures on social media how do I go about changing that in the contract?
    In some cases they are foster families or certain military and are not legally allowed to have pictures on social media.

  50. I just purchased the $15 starter. But it doesn’t allow me to download the videos or locate the 83-page booklet. Can you direct me to what I am missing, thanks?

  51. Hey Jim, thank you for this resource! Since the free PDF document isn’t available in an editable form am I allowed to simply re-type and/or re-word certain phrases as I’d like to in my own document? Or would I have to buy the $15 package to do that?

    Thank you!

  52. does Improve Photography have a lawyer on the payroll who wrote these contracts? I was hoping to buy the $15 bundle, but wanted to make sure someone from the staff wrote these? Not bought from someone else?

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