Often problems that arise can be diminished starting here – the contract

The situations that often frustrate photographers can often be avoided or diminished if guidelines are already set before running a business and accepting clients.  Having gone through many frustrations myself and hearing various issues my peers have experienced over the years, we’ve concluded that if we communicate the way we run our business clearly to our clients, it can diminish future problems.  By doing so, it will allowing us to continue loving our jobs and ensure we have a great relationship with our clients.

Limitations you should set and make sure your clients understand:

  • Stand firm in your policies.  No refunds?  Then, no refunds.
  • When you shoot your portraits.  I have a Monday through Friday only policy.  Weekends are for relaxation or weddings.
  • What subjects you do not shoot such as pets, babies, small children so you can say no.
  • Your travel rate.  Whether it’s for a round trip, or a per mile starting from a zip code.  Know how far you will travel that does not require a travel fee.
  • Your turn around time for a client to receive images.
  • The minimum number of images your client will receive for a wedding or portrait session.
  • What you will and will not Photoshop.  Will extra editing time be a fee?
  • When deposits and final balance are due.
  • When album credits expire if a couple doesn’t get back to you for design.
  • When your coverage quote will expire after given first initial quote to a couple.
  • When your print and album pricing will be guaranteed after contract is signed.


If you find you are being asked the same questions, consider making a stand out box in your contract that clearly bullet points and highlights specific contractual agreements and let your clients initial by each bullet point.  Or if you don’t require contracts for portrait sessions, have a ready-made template that you email your clients.

If you are unhappy with what service clients select, consider removing that option all together.  Do not offer a service where you do not feel like you are being fairly compensated for your time, it really is that simple.  You can’t blame clients for selecting a service or asking for something if you offer it to them.

Remember, it is always better to under promise and over deliver.  Instead of trying to impress a potential client by proposing to give them a range of images or the quickest turn around speed, it’s best to lower the number of images you say you will deliver and give a more standard turn around time.  This gives you grace should you need it – if the images aren’t plentiful due to circumstances or you get busy and need more time to edit.  However if you typically turn your time around quicker, imagine how impressed your clients will be!