I know, I know. You’re thinking that I’m just telling you to use contracts because I’m a lawyer.
You partially right. and partially wrong!
As a small business owner, just like you, I want to spend my time on the FUN part of business and not dealing with cleaning up messes.
The good thing is, administrative and financial investments in contracts do way more than just provide legal protection.
Here are the top ten reasons to have a photography contract in place.
1. Outlines client expectations
Clients do not run out and get photographs taken every day. You must outline the expectations you have of them and what they can expect from you, not only to cover yourself but to provide customer service.
2. Holds clients accountable
Again, clients do not know what is expected. Use the contract with your policies to educate and hold clients accountable to what is expected for a beneficial and successful photographer/client relationship. Sometimes clients may want to have the rules bent for them, especially if a repeat client, friend, or family member. Having a formal contract is a great way to ease that awkward conversation.
3. Holds photographer accountable
Just as the contract should outline what is expected of the client to hold them accountable, the contract should outline what to expect from the photographer to hold them accountable as well. Same as #2 🙂
4. Reminds parties of responsibilities
This is a good way to gently remind clients of policies that may seem abstract in the normal course of conversation. For example, a photographer may not want to beat them over the head about potential late fees if the client misses their ordering time, but having the contract do it for the photographer frees the photog up to developing more rapport and a customer service experience.
5. Highlights ownership of artistic property
This is especially important if you sell digital files (See: Embrace the Digital Age or Not?). In the digital age it can be a common misconception that clients believe they own the photographs from hiring you. A contract allows for the photographer to put them on notice about copyright ownership and citing the appropriate law.
6.Provides professional relationship to client
Clients who seek out custom portraiture also want a professional relationship. All professionals use contracts on a daily basis. Without one there is a risk of not being trusted or viewed as unprofessional.
7. Gives photographer a way to remedy client issues
Whenever there may be an issue or misunderstanding, the photographer can simply refer the client to the provisions in the contract and any communications between photographer and client.
8. Protects the parties
Each party gets a sense of protection and the reality of protection by having all responsibilities, expectations, and information outlined. This document and communications serve as evidence of the professional relationship.
9. Get paid
Photogs with policies and contracts are more likely to be respected and paid by their clients.
10. It is the professional thing to do
You’re a professional. Act like it!
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