Terms and conditions for photographers – top 5 tips:

As a photographer you must protect yourself with a legally binding document, and require all clients to read and sign off on your terms and conditions when they engage your services.

1. Provide details that will inform your quote for the client:

Your terms and conditions should specify the particulars the quote will be based on. Include as possible costs: attendance time, photographic material costs, the location/s of photography and whether there will be travel time or expenses, delivery of images/prints/video, photographer assistance fees, insurance coverage, and if appropriate – property access forms, and fees for sourcing models or talent and release forms. Your terms and conditions must state that the client will be responsible for all extra costs on top of your fees as a photographer. Provide that if there is a conflict between the quote and your terms and conditions, the quote will take precedence. This means you may make special allowances for certain clients if necessary to get or undertake a particular job.

Your quote will be a separate document from your terms and conditions, and will detail the exact service you will provide to the client, how long the photography session will run for, the type of images you will deliver – whether digital copies only, prints, album, canvas, framed work, and/or whether you are creating and editing a video. The quote must state how much the job will cost.

2. State when payment will be required:

You may require payment upfront and state in your terms and conditions that your photography service will not be provided unless payment occurs a certain time before the job is to be done. You can also communicate that if you invoice after services are completed, that you will engage debt collection agents if you are not paid by the client.

You should also have a cancellation fee that applies from the time you are commissioned. This cancellation fee should cover all expenses incurred up to the time of cancellation, plus a discretionary cancellation fee to cover yourself for loss of other business you may have turned down. A discretionary postponement fee should also be included for the same reason.

3. Clearly set out Intellectual Property rights:


Copyright may remain with you as the sole author of the photographs and/or video depending on the purpose for which the photographs were taken, but certain exceptions in the Copyright Act mean that your copyright in the images may not be automatic. Therefore it is important that your terms and conditions clearly set out who will own the copyright in the images so that the client is aware.

Promotional use:

You may wish to assign intellectual property ownership of the images to your client upon full payment. However you will likely want to use the images as advertising, on your website, and on social media platforms to allow potential future clients to view your style of work and hopefully engage you for themselves. Therefore you should retain license to use the images in any manner and in any part of the world, for business and promotional reasons.

Ensure attribution:

To ensure creative attribution, you may wish to have a copyright notice or logo on your images, and request the client does not remove this in any reproductions of the image. However, if you are photographing a wedding or other highly personal event, this term will put clients off. To avoid loss of business provide original images without marks – and state in your terms and conditions that attribution will be required only in published reproductions of images.

You should protect your creative rights in your images and materials by including a term that prevents your clients from altering or treating your work in a derogatory manner. Prohibit manipulation or distortion of images without your consent.

4. Time for delivery of images/prints/video works:

State when your work will be available to the client after the job is done. This will be important information for your clients and needs to be agreed on. If clients require images very quickly after the photography job, specify that there will be a surcharge and how much this will be. Ensure that you provide yourself with adequate time to deliver images of excellent quality, and video-work is given extra time for completion.

5. Indemnify yourself, and protect your clients’ privacy:

You must include an indemnity clause to protect yourself from any harm; loss or damage that may arise as a direct or indirect result of your services. This will protect you from being liable for situations out of your control, for example if you are photographing a celebrity and photos are leaked to the press.

You may want to insert a confidentiality condition for your clients that states confidential information held by you will not be disclosed to others except as required to provide your photography services.

This is general advice only. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. 

Published June 26, 2017

Clifton Hill Jessica Kerr Sinclair + May jessica@sinclairmay.com.au

Jessica Kerr is the Director of Sinclair + May, a female-led, boutique commercial law firm based in Melbourne’s inner north.  Sinclair + May work with small businesses to ensure their legals are in order. Book a free 15-min chat here to talk with one of our solicitors.

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