Do you require your clients to sign a contract before doing the actual shoot? There’s a bit of contention on this subject. Some photographers believe that this is an unnecessary step in the sales process. They feel that it would be a pain point when trying to convince prospects to sign a contract or to amend it for each individual client. Or, some clients may simply get intimidated at the thought of signing a formal contract and choose to go with someone else who is “easier to work with.”
Others however, believe that a contract is necessary. How do you ensure that the client will pay you? What about ownership rights to the photos? What is the number of photos that you are willing to shoot? How far are you willing to drive for a shoot before you get paid a travel fee? A formal contract helps you clearly address these concerns with each one of your clients.
For us, it all depends on your relationship with your client. Have you successfully dealt with them before? Are they a repeat client? Do they pay on time, every time? Do you trust them? If so, then a contract may be unnecessary.
When working with a new client for the first time however, we recommend you start with a contract. This will enforce mutual agreements between both parties regarding payments, terms, turnaround times, limitations of the service, travel, and more.
Contracts are also recommended for the following scenarios:
Taking photos of restaurants, shops, hotels, and other commercial establishments, usually entails a higher service fee, which is attached to a higher quality of work. A contract is recommended because businesses often use the document as part of the requirement to process your payment.
In your contract, always include the expected date of payment, the expected date of photo delivery, and the rights that the client has regarding the usage of the images.
Property builders, interior decorators, and RE contractors may ask you to shoot photos to be included in their portfolio. Remember they will be using those photos to market their business, so you need to specifically indicate the scope of usage of your photos. This is especially true if your client intends to submit your photos to journals, websites, magazines, etc. You don’t want your photos used in publications without being paid for your work.
A client may be so impressed with your work that he wants to make you his exclusive photographer for his listings. Be sure to have them sign a contract for exclusivity. What’s the duration of the exclusivity? What is exactly being covered? How many projects should he provide you so you will remain exclusive to the client? What happens if the there is no work provided by the client? The more details about the conditions, the better.
During your initial meeting, you may feel that this potential client has a... ”personality”... that may cause complications along the way. But you’re still willing to grab this deal because, well, you want the work! If this is the case, we recommend having the prospect sign a contract. Make sure you state the parameters clearly to avoid confusion.
At times, you may not need a contract--especially if you are servicing repeat clients. But in some situations, contracts can be lifesavers. Signing legal agreements can be intimidating and your prospects may be hesitant to sign. Explain to them that doing so is for the formality of the deal. Encourage them that by signing the contract, both parties will make sure they get what they want.
Since meeting Rachel at the inaugural PFRE Conference in Las Vegas in November, we have been working with her to develop a contract template that real estate photographers can use to overcome some of the issues we face on a daily basis. During her lecture at the conference, Rachel stressed the importance of not only registering your images to protect yourself but also the importance of having a proper contract and terms, so you don’t run into legal issues.
We also consulted numerous real estate photographers in different locations with different business models to make sure we cover everything we could. The result of our efforts is finally available for purchase.
The contract template includes the following provisions:
• Booking and payment
• Property preparation, pets, requests
• Cancellation, reschedule, late arrival
• Completion & delivery
• Property & travel
• Independent contractor
• Photographic materials & artistic rights
• Commercial license terms
• Safe working environment
The contract is available in a word document, allowing you to adjust the terms specifically for your business and jurisdiction. Also, for a limited time, this contract includes a complimentary Waiver and Release Document which is an optional document you can have the homeowner sign to further protect you.
For more information, please CLICK HERE.
PFRE does NOT receive any commission or referral fees if you purchase this product. Shooting Spaces and PFRE are online educational resource platforms for real estate photographers. Shooting Spaces or PFRE are not a law firm; therefore, should you purchase this product, it should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Shooting Spaces and PFRE encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney for any legal or contract questions.