COVID-19 Legal Resource Page

Coronavirus & Your Photography Business
Below you will find constantly updated information regarding legalities and the impact COVID-19 is having on your photography business. 
  • Resources
  • Needed Contract Template Forms
  • To-Do Business Checklist
  • Reopening checklist
  • and more!
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Hey there!

I'm Rachel Brenke

Before we dig into the COVID resource page, let me introduce myself! I’m a mother of five, wife to army veteran and lover of rescue dogs. On the professional side I’m a photographer, business consultant and lawyer. 

I help photographers, like you, to legally protect yourself and run a successful photography business.  These videos are just one part of the many resources I have for you. 

Thousands in the industry trust me, for good reason. I have a proven record of winning copyright infringement suits for photographers and delivering solid legal advice. 

I’m humbled to be able to help you all during this time. Please let myself, or the team, know if you need anything,

Rachel Brenke

FA(C)Qs

Frequently Asked Covid Questions

These are general answers to top questions.

The answers may vary depending on your specific situation circumstances. 

 

  • What do I need to have in my contract? See our provisions section on this page.

 

 

  • Why should my waiver be separate from my contract? It serves a completely different purpose and we want the assumption of risk/liability waiver to be intact should the original contract be invalidated or cancelled.

 

  • I don’t have Force Majuere, am I screwed? Actually no, FM has been only used at very limited times during this Pandemic.  Often, standard contract cancellation and reschedule provisions have allowed for protection and customer service.  

 

  • What preparation steps should I take if I’m continuing to photograph?  Use a liability waiver, abide by all government mandates, adhere to CDC advisements (masks, social distancing, gloves, hand washing, etc.)

 

  • What if my client wants to reschedule even though they can still have their wedding?  This is a classic example we are seeing. Clients who simply don’t want to have their wedding due to do COVID-19 existing and/or venues restricting numbers.  This relatively should have no bearing on your services and should be able to treat like a normal cancellation. 

 

  • Do I have to return the non-refundable retainer? Legally – probably not, assuming you have a solid, lawyer-drafted contract that attributes that retainer to services already rendered (i.e. scheduling, consultation, etc).   If you don’t currently have a non-refundable retainer language that connects it to these services, check this out. 

 

  • Do I have to photograph if there is no shut down? No. There are different levels of government directives and contract defenses that may help you. [Quick Podcast Here]

 

  • Do I have a force majeure clause in my contract? I don’t know – do you? Don’t rely on the headings. Be sure to look for language regarding disasters, circumstances outside of your control, Acts of God, etc. [Quick Podcast here]

 

  • Does my contract let me cancel/reschedule?  It’s going to depend on the language.   Properly drafted cancellations and reschedules will allow for these actions during COVID *especially* when force majeure doesn’t apply.

 

  • What if I photograph against government-mandates and/or shut downs? Loss of insurance coverage. Potential fines. Potential revocation of business license.

LEGAL DOCS

Here are some lawyer-drafted documents that may be of help during this time.

COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in everyone’s plans – and that definitely means legal issues for photographers. We specifically developed this bundle to help aid you in this time!

Want to snag our COVID-19 specific contract template forms and checklists? We’ve put them into this one bundle for you!

  • Rescheduling Addendum
  • Ala Carte Force Majeure Provision
  • Reopening Checklist
  • Reopening Procedures Notice Template
  • Cancellation of Contract
  • Covid-Specific Liability Waiver
  • When do I use the reschedule addendum? 

This is probably going to be the most common and best way to keep client’s on your books.  You will use this when clients have demonstrated their desire to reschedule, have officially decided on a new event date with you and the venue, and you are available on those dates.

  • What if my client wants to reschedule but doesn’t know the date? 

You could execute the reschedule addendum with a date  TBD but it’s preferential to define when this date will be and with no guarantee that you, the photographer, may be available. 

  • When do I use a cancellation contract? 

If your current contract provisions require one or you don’t have a cancellation provision in your current agreement. 

  • When (and how) do I use the liability waiver?

This is an add-on to your existing contract if the event is still to occur.  You should use it with every event you’re photographing during covid. This document is your client assuming the risk of photographing during COVID. This should be a separate free-standing document from your contract incase the services contract is cancelled or rendered unenforceable.

Contract Provision Protections

Check your current contracts to see if you have the follow provisions. If you do not, we suggest getting them integrated for the future.

-Cancellation & ReschedulingGoverns cancellations of the contract.  In this situation, the client is the party requesting to amend or cancel the contract

-Substitute photographer (for events, weddings) – The substitute photographer clause is a provision in a contract that gives a photographer the right to have another photographer work in their place without a breach of the contract

-Force Majeure  – Force Majeure clause is a provision in a contract that excuses a party from not performing its contractual obligations that becomes impossible or impracticable, due to an event or effect that the parties could not have anticipated or controlled. – although only applies for a super limited amount of time – if you have solid cancellation and rescheduling provisions then FM not necessarily needed – depends on circumstances – see video on this page)

-Hold-harmless – The hold harmless clause is a statement in a legal contract that absolves one or both parties in a contract of legal liability for any injuries or damage suffered by the party signing the contract.

COVID-19 Release of Responsibility – This Release of Photographer Responsibility provision allows for a Photographer to be relieved of fulfilling their contracted Services should they arrive at an event/wedding to find the Client, guests and/or venue failing to comply with government-mandated COVID -19 orders.

 

ATTN: TLT Purchasers

If you currently own a TLT contract template...

The good news is TheLawTog contracts were drafted with contingencies (such as COVID) in mind- they are already providing you the protections needed during COVID. The only exception would be for Assumption of Risk liability waiver, which is a separate document and available in the shop.

TheLawTog® contracts include cancellation and reschedule language that aids in circumstances, including the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. There is also force majeure language available as an a la carte contract provision which can be added to the contracts. However, as force majeure was only able to be invoked for a short period of time, there are also a la carte contract provisions available with cancellation, reschedule, and substitute photographer language.

TheLawTog® Covid-specific Release of Liability Waiver is a risk waiver for those assuming the risks of proceeding with events or sessions during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This liability waiver is different than how the cancellation and rescheduling provisions work. Simply put, the cancellation and rescheduling provisions are for cancelling and/or rescheduling an event or session and do contemplate Covid and other situations, even if not specifically addressed.

If you are seeking Covid-specific language addressing mask usage, social distancing, etc., we have a Photographer responsibility provision available however our existing safe working condition provisions included in event/wedding contracts may be sufficient.

Informational Resources

Since we know it's tough right now, we want to provide some free resources of information for you. This will be updated as new information comes to light.

TheLawTog Blog post on contract provisions + insurance for your photography business protection

Business Bites Podcast Episode – 5 quick legal steps you need to take to protect your business now

Business Bites Podcast Episode -Families First Coronavirus Response Act – What You Need To Know

Business Bites Podcast Episode – 4 Financial Stability Steps During COVID

 

External resources:

 
Small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here to apply.
 

Find more information on the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans at: SBA.gov/Disaster.

The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. 


Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits for Photographers information. Click here to read more.

You’ve probably heard by now about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), but would you like the part that applies to photographers translated into human speak? Just like the rest of humanity, you really just need to know the part that applies to you, our friend Andrew with Big Picture CPA has you covered. 

 

 

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