Photography Contract Template

Business Tips August 12th 2012 10:36 AM 34 Comments

The recent news about the Seattle wedding photographer threatened by a $300K lawsuit has really gotten the photography industry buzzing in the last few weeks. It was a great reminder to all of us that we need to take a look at our own businesses and make sure all of our workflows, processes, business practices, and contracts are solid.

We’ve decided to provide you with a Free photography contract. It’s written primarily as a wedding photographer contract, but can be used as an event photography contract as well. It’s modified from the contract we use in our photography studio, Lin and Jirsa, Wedding Photographers in Los Angeles, so there are going to be things that don’t apply to your studio. There are also going to be things that you’ll have to add to make it fit your business model. Nevertheless, it should serve as a good sample photography contract to get you started.

  1. Download Here: Like our Facebook Page and download the Sample Photography Contract Word Document

Disclaimer: The following contract has not been reviewed by a lawyer. It is provided for free to the community and is intended to be a guideline rather than a comprehensive, complete contract. Furthermore, many of the provisions may not be applicable depending on the type of studio you operate and the location in which you operate. It may also be missing provisions applicable to your type and location of photography. SLR Lounge is not responsible for any damages, lawsuits, or disputes that may arise from the use of this contract template.

Included Provisions

While it is recommended that you download the documents above, here are the main provisions in the contract. We would love to hear your thoughts. What modifications would you make? Are we missing anything?

This Agreement is made effective for all purposes in all respects as of ____________ (current date) by and between ________________, herinafter referred to as “the COMPANY” and _____________, hereinafter referred to as “The CLIENT” relating to the event(s) detailed below, hereinafter referred to as “The EVENT(S).

ENTIRE AGREEMENT: This agreement contains the entire understanding between the COMPANY and the CLIENT. It supersedes all prior and simultaneous agreements between the parties. The only way to add or change this agreement is to do so in writing, signed by all parties. In the event that any part of this agreement is found to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this agreement shall remain valid and enforceable. Any agreement to waive one or more provisions of this agreement or any failure by one or both parties to enforce a provision of this agreement shall not constitute a waiver of any other portion or provision of this agreement.

RESERVATION: A signed contract and retainer fee are required to reserve the dates and times of the EVENT(S). If the EVENT(S) are rescheduled, postponed, or cancelled; or if there is a breach of contract by the CLIENT, the retainer fee is non-refundable and shall be liquidated damages to The COMPANY. The CLIENT shall also be responsible for payment for any of the COMPANY’s materials charges incurred up to time of cancellation.

EVENT SCHEDULE: The client agrees to confirm the schedule one-week prior to the EVENT(S). Notification of any changes in schedule or location must be made in a timely manner and confirmation of receipt must be obtained from the COMPANY by the CLIENT.

SAFETY: The COMPANY reserves to right to terminate coverage and leave the location of the EVENT(S) if the photographer from the COMPANY experiences inappropriate, threatening, hostile or offensive behavior from person(s) at the EVENT(S); or in the event that the safety of the photographer from the COMPANY is in question.

SHOOTING TIME / ADDITIONS: The CLIENT and the COMPANY agree that cooperation and punctuality are essential to accomplish the goals and wishes of all parties. Shooting commences at the scheduled start time and ends at the scheduled end time. If the CLIENT does not arrive at the appointed time for the EVENT(S), shooting will commence at the scheduled start time and end at the scheduled end time. All additional time beyond the scheduled end time will be billed to the CLIENT.

EXPENSES INCURRED: When applicable, the CLIENT is responsible for all travel, accommodation, meal and transport costs unless provided by the CLIENT.
TRAVEL EXPENSES: All travel expenses are based on the distance between the EVENT location(s) and the COMPANY studio address. For all EVENT(S), the first __ miles roundtrip of travel are included. All miles in excess of ____ miles roundtrip are charged at $__.____ per mile.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The COMPANY is not responsible for compromised coverage due to causes beyond the control of the COMPANY including but not limited to obtrusive guests, lateness of the CLIENT or guests, weather conditions, schedule complications, incorrect addresses provided to the COMPANY, rendering of decorations, or restrictions of the locations. The COMPANY is not responsible for backgrounds or lighting conditions which may negatively impact or restrict the photo coverage. The COMPANY is not held liable for missed coverage of any part of the EVENT(S). The COMPANY will not be held accountable for failure to deliver images of any individuals or any objects at the EVENT(S).

VENUE AND LOCATION LIMITATIONS: The COMPANY is limited by the rules and guidelines of the location(s) and site management. The CLIENT agrees to accept the technical results of their imposition on the COMPANY. Negotiation with the officials for moderation of guidelines is the CLIENT’s responsibility; the COMPANY will offer technical recommendations only.

PERMITS: The CLIENT is responsible for acquiring all permits and necessary permission for all locations on which the COMPANY will be performing services.

FILM and COPYRIGHTS: The photographs produced by the COMPANY are protected by Federal Copyright Law (all rights reserved) and may not be reproduced in any manner without the COMPANY’s explicitly written permission. If the CLIENT has purchased an “Image DVD” from the COMPANY, upon final payment by the CLIENT, limited copyright ownership of the resulting images will be transferred to the CLIENT. If the CLIENT has purchased an “Image DVD” from the COMPANY, the COMPANY grants the CLIENT permission to share the images on social networking websites, with family and friends, and on vendor websites as long as the images remain unaltered and textual credit is explicitly given to the COMPANY. The CLIENT must obtain written permission from the COMPANY prior to publishing or selling the photographs.

MODEL RELEASE: The CLIENT hereby assigns the COMPANY the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use and publish photographs of the CLIENT or in which the CLIENT may be included, for editorial, trade, advertising, educational and any other purpose and in any manner and medium; to alter the same without restriction; and to copyright the same without restriction. The CLIENT releases all claim to profits that may arise from use of images.

LIMIT OF LIABILITY: In the unlikely event that the assigned photographer from the COMPANY is unable to perform to the guidelines of this contract due to an injury, illness, act of God, act of terrorism, or other cause beyond the control of the COMPANY, the COMPANY will make every effort to secure a replacement. If the situation should occur and a suitable replacement is not found, responsibility and liability is limited to the return of all payments received for the EVENT(S).

In the unlikely event that digital files have been lost, stolen, or destroyed for reasons beyond the COMPANY’s control, including but not limited to camera, hard drive, or equipment malfunction, the COMPANY liability is limited to the return of all payments received for the EVENT(S). The limit of liability for a partial loss of originals shall be a prorated amount of the exposures lost based on the percentage of total number of originals. The COMPANY is not liable for the loss of images beyond the lesser of the final delivery of all products included in the package or one year.

CAPTURE AND DELIVERY: The COMPANY is not liable to deliver every image taken at the event. The determination of images delivered to the CLIENT is left to the discretion of the COMPANY.

POST PRODUCTION AND EDITING: The final post production and editing styles, effects, and overall look of the images are left to the discretion of the COMPANY.

PAYMENT SCHEDULE: The aforementioned _____% non-refundable retainer fee is due at the time of signing of agreement. The remaining balance is payable in full prior to or the day of the EVENT(S). In the event the CLIENT fails to remit payment as specified, the COMPANY shall have the right to immediately terminate this agreement with no further obligation, retain any monies already paid, and not attend the EVENT(S). Returned checks will be assessed a $_____ non-sufficient funds fee.

PRICING: Services or merchandise not included in this initial contract will be sold at the current price when the order is placed. All prices are subject to change at any time without notice. Credit vouchers have no intrinsic cash value and may only be applied toward merchandise purchased from the COMPANY.

Things Left Out That You Might Add

Exclusive Photographer – I’ve seen contracts that include an “exclusive photographer” provision which basically ensures that you’re the only photographer that they hire for the day and that you have the right to ask uncle Bob to put down his camera.

Rescheduling Policy – I’ve seen contracts that include scenarios where rescheduling a wedding or event does not forfeit the retainer fee if the photographer is able to book another client on the original date.

Harassment Policy - Maybe more for those female photographers, but I’ve also seen contracts where coverage will terminate if a guest of the wedding or event is acting inappropriately towards the photographer.

Reproduction Policy – If you don’t include image DVDs with your packages, a reproduction policy might be necessary. This would restrict clients from reproducing your work without your permission.


Disclaimer: The preceding contract has not been reviewed by a lawyer. It is provided for free to the community and is intended to be a guideline rather than a comprehensive, complete contract. Furthermore, many of the provisions may not be applicable depending on the type of studio you operate and the location in which you operate. It may also be missing provisions applicable to your type and location of photography. SLR Lounge is not responsible for any damages, lawsuits, or disputes that may arise from the use of this contract template.



Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me travelling the world. Click here to connect on Google +


  1. Reji Berrouet

    Very informative and helpful! Thank you!

  2. angelapatrice

    Thank you for this…great framework to get a newbie started on the right track…much appreciated!

  3. APphotography

    Thank You! This is awesome!

  4. G&VPhotography

    Great! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Elizabeth

    Thank you for sharing this great resource. Do your clients ever have issue with the model release form and do you feel this is industry standard for event photography contracts?

  6. Andy

    Any chance you can additionally post the link in the older Word.doc format rather than the latest Word.docx That would be great! Thank you!

    • Raza

      you can download an add-on for MS-Word to open the new version files on old version of MS-office.

  7. Lvp24

    Thank you!

  8. Greg Ceo

    Here’s the thing with the model release clause: You can get the bride and grooms release by having them sign this contract, but the bride and groom cannot release all of their guests without their written permission. So, technically, any and all of any wedding photographers’ images that include more than the bride and groom in the image, used to advertise their wedding photography business on their website (or for any advertising purpose) are in violation of a person’s right to privacy and right to publicity and the photographer must retain a model release to use these images for advertising the photographer’s business. 

    Now there probably aren’t many wedding guests who would object to having their image on a wedding photographer’s website, but this is the simple reality of what a photographer can and cannot do legally with another person’s image.

    • Matthew J. Martinez

      Unless the wedding is set up in such a way that all the guest have a reasonable expectation of privacy that should never be a problem. It is meant to cover the photographer in the instant that he take photos of the newlyweds away from the guests, which is not too uncommon, and they decide later that they didn’t want those photos published.

    • Martine Brucheau

      I beg the differ, When guest are invited to such occasions, They are just that, “GUEST”
      Their right to privacy when in a public domain or someones wedding in vacated as they are usually aware that their photo will be taken and used in advertisement at some point. Now you are right in that their are some concerns for privacy, But that is usually something the bride and groom has to worry about if they release images unknown or for sale, which will than be a violation of the photographers contract

  9. Kmpinkel

    Any chance of getting this in a PDF?

  10. Leslie Ann Colon


  11. Leni Dixon

    You spelled hereinafter wrong… (missing an ‘e’ in the ‘here’ bit.)

    Thanks for the body text though! Very helpful.

  12. ALnG

    This is a great start! Thank You for your time creating this document!

  13. Madame S.

    Thank you!

  14. Milosh Kosanovich

    I don’t think this “contract” would be enforceable in any court. It does not specify what will be provided for what cost, but rather looks to be a list of reasons why the photographer may not provide photos. It is not a summary of the meeting of the minds which is a basic tenant of contract law. This is a basic problem with a lot of wedding photographer contracts, too much emphasis on why you cannot perform the services rendered rather than on what you will deliver when for what price. For example, you cannot just say that post processing time is at the discretion of the photographer, that might mean it could take you 10 years or 20 years, meaning really that you will not ever deliver anything. I think a client has the right to expect so many photos or videos delivered within a certain time frame for a certain price for it to be considered a contract.

    • Tyler

      I agree but if you provide additional terms on a different sheet of paper this shouldn’t be a problem. For me my pricing includes time frame for photos and hours to be with the client.

  15. Davor Pavlic

    Hello! I’ve been reading these and tried to cover the most I could, trying to make a neutral contract, but some articles are wedding giveaways. I’d welcome toughts and suggestions.

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  18. KLMarkert

    Absolutely wonderful! Thank you for posting this. Excellent comments, too, adding to the discussion!

  19. Choji FD

    This is awesome.

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  21. AC

    My contract, written by lawyers at Sidley Austin, is WAY better than this one. Write to me directly and I’ll happily share it with you. It saved me once from a psychotic groom (a lawyer to boot) with a punitive super ego. Once is 10 years, though, is all you need. He got laughed out of court.

    • CA

      I’d like to see how your contract written by lawyers at Sidley Austin is better than this one. Thanks!

    • stacy bradfield

      I would appreciate being able to see you contract… i have been doing a lot of research on this topic as my first step before anything so that i know that i am protected and what i can and can not do… so any and all help would be much appreciated.

    • Hanssie

      Hi Stacy! The contract is available for download. Click on the link in the middle of the article. :)

  22. m

    If you could share that contract, that would be perfect. Being sued for something outrageous is my biggest fear! Thank you!

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  25. Michael Chapman

    Helpful and useful – thanks!


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