Myth Buster: I’m a one person photography person business – I don’t need a legal contract!

You’re a one-person photography business and you’re thinking, “Why do I need legal terms and conditions? My clients are lovely! I’m sure nothing will ever go wrong! Contracts are for large companies! Legal jargon is intimidating and overwhelming! Can’t I just put a few dot points down in an email or agree the details over the phone?!”

We get it. But…you do need a contract.  What you don’t need is a lengthy, expensive, or overcomplicated contract full of jargon. 

That’s why Cherrypicka has joined forces with the Tog Hub to pull together a range of accessible and understandable photography contracts for small businesses just like yours.

Here’s why you need a legal contract:

It makes you look professional

Having legal terms and conditions in place shows your clients that you take your business seriously. It gives them confidence that you’re not just someone with a camera and a hobby, but a legitimate professional photographer. This can help you stand out in a crowded market and attract more clients.

It sets expectations

Legal terms and conditions set clear expectations on what your clients can expect from you and what they are paying for. Whether that’s the duration of the shoot, the format in which the images will be delivered, or the timeframe for delivery. Having detailed terms covering off these unique factors specific to the photography industry helps to avoid misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is on the same page. In the event of an issue, it’s much easier to stand your ground if you can point to a clause in your contract which they’ve signed.

It’ll get you paid

Legal terms and conditions set out your payment terms, including your rates, how much you charge for travel time, what is not included in your fee, when payment is due, and whether a client can receive a refund and in what circumstances.

Be clear on these things to help minimise the chance of tricky conversations relating to payment that may play out after the shoot. It also gives you a proper, legal leg to stand on in the event of a dispute.

Because cancellations happen

Life happens, and sometimes clients may need to cancel or reschedule their photography session. However, without a solid cancellation or rescheduling policy in your contract, you may find yourself losing money and time. This can be extremely frustrating! Legal terms and conditions should clearly state how much notice you require, any fees that may be forfeited for last-minute cancellations, and whether or not you offer refunds. 

There may also be times where you will need to reschedule. Make sure you give yourself the express contractual ability to reschedule in these situations.

Without a contract, you can’t protect your intellectual property

Did you know that if you are taking photos in a domestic setting, copyright in these photos will automatically vest with your client – unless your legal terms say otherwise. Legal terms and conditions can reserve your intellectual property by including a copyright notice and a clause that prohibits clients from using your images in ways that you have not permitted including by applying filters or using it outside of a personal setting. This helps to protect your reputation and your images.

Think of it like an insurance policy!

Clear legal terms and conditions can help to minimise the likelihood of potential legal issues and disputes.  And while you might think that legal action is unlikely, disgruntled clients talk and pose a significant risk to your reputation through word of mouth and bad reviews online.

Just like you pay for your insurance policy and hope you never need it, a contract is there just in case. Of course, you will still run into issues from time to time, that’s just running a business – but if you have clearly set out the expectations up front you will have a sound foundation to work through any possible misunderstandings.

P.S. while we are talking about insurance policies – please make sure you actually do get one of these too! Talk to a broker or insurance company about your options here.

In conclusion, legal terms and conditions are essential for any photography business, no matter how small.

Interested to know more? Cherrypicka has a range of contracts suitable for photographers designed in collaboration with a professional photographer at the Tog Hub – get yourself contracted up today!

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