Running a photography business is typically done primarily for profit and maybe some charitable acts throughout the year to give back.
In order to protect this income stream, it is important to have a written photography contract.
Courts may enforce a verbal contract, and while photographers and clients may be able to happily engage in business without a written document, here are five reasons why it is important to have one in your business.
Easier to Prove
By having clear-cut language, the terms are better understood between parties and provable should an issue arise. One of the basic elements of any contract is the intent by both parties to enter into the contract. While intent may be relatively easy to demonstrate, without well-defined terms in a written document, it may be difficult to prove that both parties agreed to the specific terms of the contract.
Outlines Expectations and Prevents Miscommunication
Expectations are often mismanaged when there isn’t a central meeting of discussion between photographer and client for all aspects of the transaction.
A written document outlines all the expectations for the course of the transaction and prevents potential miscommunications between parties. The client has a roadmap of what to expect in the process without having to play five-hundred questions with the photographer.
Likewise, the photographer has all expectations of the client in one document to refer to throughout the process.
The Law Requires It
While you may have had a good run with no issues, some jurisdictions may have laws on the books requiring written contracts for a relationship to be enforceable. Depending upon the type of contract and jurisdiction you operate within, the law may require a written memorialization of terms and agreements.
An example of this that touches all reading this article is Federal Law and Copyright. Under Federal Law, if you wish to transfer copyright ownership, this must be in writing. This gives a tiny example into situations that may touch your photography business actions on a federal level.
Increased Client Confidence
Having a written contractual document helps to build up client confidence as it makes you, as the business owner, look more professional. Clients trust you more because you look professional, they see all the terms to which they are agreeing, and feel protected.
The end result?
They have more faith in you, and giving them confidence will make it easier for them to sign that check.
The document allows for an identification of miscellaneous items that, more than likely, were never discussed with the client.
These items can include laws that will govern the relationship, attorneys fees that can be awarded to prevailing party if included in the contract language, and choice of jurisdiction that governs where a lawsuit will occur, heaven forbid you get to that!
As you can see, having everything written down is beneficial for you and for the client. Seek out a local attorney for assistance, or snag a contract template from TheLawTog that is specially written by a photographer and lawyer for the best protection for photography business owners.
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