Don’t set your photography business on fire trying to bend over backwards for clients.
As we have seen in the last few weeks when a gender reveal party resulted in a horrific and damaging fire in California, photographers are scared.
And I get it.
Events can occur, and you don’t want to be liable for your client’s actions.
You’ve come to the right place! Here are some top questions related to this and recommendations on how to protect your photography business!
How can I legally protect my photography business?
Before we dig into the exact document specifics, as outlined below, consider whether you’ve nailed the “legal trifecta”.
- Business formation (LLC, Corp.) including all required permits/licenses
- Liability Insurance
- Contracts (more below)
These are not everything, but they are a good foundation for ensuring that your photography business is on legal and protected footing.
If you need DIY or hand-to-hand help on creating a legal photography business, check out BizRevamp® course inside our membership.
Can I really be held liable for my client’s actions?
Maybe…. (What a lawyer answer!). It’s going to depend on specifics of the situation.
Let’s take smoke bombs for a gender reveal session. If the client unilaterally decided to do it, bring it and solely handled the smoke bombs, the photographer probably will not be liable for any resulting issues and/or damage.
However, what if the photographer provides advisement on type, color, or position of the smoke bomb. Getting closer to an argument that the photographer was involved and could be liable.
What if my client insists on a request I don’t want to do?
You CAN turn down clients for requests or statues that aren’t legally protected. Wanting to have fireworks or smoke bombs at a gender reveal is definitely not a protected class.
If you haven’t booked these clients, don’t book them!
If you have booked your client, check to see what your cancellation provision of contract requires and invoke it.
If you don’t have a cancellation provision – consider including one and/or using a contract cancellation document.
If you’re already at the session – scroll down for the answer!
What if I want to honor my client’s request AND protect myself?
Good question! Hopefully you have the legal trifecta above down – but here is where we dig into the legal documents.
- Indemnification & liability provision – this is a statement in a legal contract that obliges the Client to “indemnify” the Photographer against any injury, property damage, liability, claim, or other cause of action arising out of, or related to, Services and/or product(s). (Note: We already include this in our photography contract templates)
- Assumption of Risk/Liability Waiver – This release of liability waiver is great for photographic sessions or events that you may host in the course of your business. This DOES include a parent release for minors as well! This releases the event host/Photographer of liability for injury, certification of ability to participate, and more! This document is separate from your contract and is specific to a higher-risk activity. Think, rock climbing engagements, smoke bomb gender reveals, etc.
What if the action my client wants to do is illegal?
If you know ahead of time and have taken the time to educate your client but they still want to do it – cancel.
If you are in the middle of the session/event and illegal actions occur – leave. Simply document the activity, email right then from your phone to client that you’re cancelling the session due to illegal activity and leave. Depending on level of illegality, you may want to report to police.
HINT: Just because your contract is silent on illegal activity it doesn’t mean you’re stuck staying there. So long as you took proper steps, documented and evaluated the situation properly – it’s highly unlikely (but not improbable) that you’d be held liable for not fulfilling services when illegal activities are occurring.
What if the action my client wants to do is not illegal, but is unsafe?
It is highly recommended, especially for events (such as weddings), to have a safe-working condition provision in your contract. Rely on this provision and also, as above, document and notify client why you’re terminating services.
Don’t delay on making sure you understand these specifics and putting legal supports in place. It is incredibly important to be proactive in protecting your photography business.