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.

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.


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 in most situations.  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.

Get My Photography Contracts Bundle for $15:

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: By purchasing this product, you understand and agree that Improve Photography LLC is not a law firm and no part of this transaction constitutes legal advice.  These contracts are offered merely as templates for you to customize for your situation and to match applicable law in your jurisdiction.  Jim Harmer is a lawyer, but is not your lawyer, and you should seek individual legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction before making important business decisions such as writing a legal contract. This is provided merely as a template for you to adjust to your needs.

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 many states, 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 which he or she will not advertise as being available.  Otherwise, it may be 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.

Important Legal Information

By purchasing this product, you understand and agree that Improve Photography LLC is not a law firm and no part of this transaction constitutes legal advice.  These contracts are offered merely as templates which you must customize for your situation and to match applicable law in your jursidiction.  Jim Harmer is a lawyer, but is not your lawyer, and you should seek individual legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction before making important business decisions such as writing a legal contract.  This is provided merely as a template for you to adjust to your needs.

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.

148 thoughts on “Free Photography Contract Written by a Lawyer”

  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.

      1. Hi Jim! You stated there is no license needed to be a photographer…I have heard/read that a signed contract would not hold up without being licensed. Is this true?

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


  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.

  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. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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?

  12. 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!

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