While a contract may cover the main topics of hourly rates, image rights, cancellation policies, and more, there are a few additional issues you need in your contact. I strongly recommend using an attorney to make sure your contracts are iron-clad to completely protect you and your business. Here are some extras items to consider putting in a contract to further protect yourself.
1. State in your contract (and make sure it is well communicated to the client when booking) that when clients are late, shooting time will be deducted. (For example, if you are on time to begin shooting and have plans with your family afterward, but the clients are 20 minutes late, do not allow that to cut into your family time.)
2. State in your contract what type of photos you will deliver. Every now and then you will have someone ask for the raw files, and while I opt to never ever provide them, other photographers will do it (usually for a big price). Most photographers deliver jpegs, but I recently had a photographer friend asked by a client to send another type of file (outside of her normal gallery). Her contract ensured that she did not have to go back to her original files and re-export to save the images in the additional format and then re-send additional files.
3. State in the contract that you, the photographer, make the choice of what images to edit. I always say to never, ever show the raw, unedited images, but from time-to-time you will have clients ask to see them. I do not reveal my unfinished product. Sure, sometimes it is fun to show the before and after; but ultimately, in my business, no one sees the before except me (and my editors if I opt to outsource my editing).
4. State in the contract how many images will be delivered with a contract. It is always a nice surprise when you can give a client more than the contracted amount (but you never want to promise 50 images, but then only have 20 photos with the quality you want to put your creative stamp on).
5. State in the contract how your product will be delivered: via an email with the log on information or a gallery (in-person) reveal. You want every step to be communicated and in writing so there are no false expectations. In addition, if your client purchases the digital downloads, it needs to be contractual and communicated well that the sale is final. (Think about the nightmare of a client downloading all the images from the online gallery then coming back the next day after they have the images and then claiming they aren’t happy and want their money back…food for thought.)
Y’all, protect yourself from unforeseen issues with clients by adding these 5 items to all your contracts. The little bit of extra preparation saves a lot of hard work, frustration, and hurt feelings at the end of a client relationship.