How To Create A Binding Photography Contract

When working as a photographer, it is important to protect your work and yourself with photography contracts. While you take pictures for payment, there are several variables often at play, including how your client uses the photograph, whether they have exclusive rights, and if they can only use the images in certain instances.

On top of this, if you take pictures of models, you’ll need your models to sign contracts. It all comes down to protecting yourself and your work from wrongful usage and from models misunderstanding what their photographs can be used for.

That is exactly why you need to understand how to use photography contracts.

What Are Photography Contracts?

?If you work as a photographer, or even if you make money off of your photography hobby, you want to protect your works of art. When taking the picture and using it as a stock photograph or when uploading it to the Internet, you hold the copyright to it.

The creator of an image automatically holds the copyright when the image is created under U.S. copyright law.

However, copyright becomes more difficult when you are selling the photograph, when you’re using the photography for business purposes, and when you have a model in the photograph. You need to dictate how each photograph can be used by the client.

When there is someone within the photograph, you need to know if they have any conditions to how it may be used.

Just like any other work contract, it is important to cover all your bases whenever working as a professional photographer. That means you need to know how to create photography contracts that will legally protect you and your work.

A quality photography contract will protect you and prevent you from any possible legal issue. It’s also why you need to know how to put such a contact together; otherwise, you leave yourself open for potential problems, especially when dealing with clients or models (who work as freelance clients of your own).

Why Do You Need A Photography Contract?

If you don’t have a photography contract, you leave yourself open to all kinds of legal issues. Most of these problems have to do with your rights to use photographs with a person’s likeness in it and a client’s rights to use the picture you took (and how they can use it).

You will probably want to have different kinds of contracts. For example, you would want one for clients who are using your photographs and another for models who may appear in your photographs.

Contracts For Clients

When a client is using your photography, you need to create photography contracts that show how they can use the photograph. If you’re selling the photograph to the client, you’ll need a contract that says you’re handing over 100% usage rights of the photograph.

In other instances you may just allow a client to use the photograph while you keep the rights to the image. The client is basically just paying to use, or rent, the photograph.

You may even dictate how many times they can use the photograph and the size of the photograph. Perhaps you only want them to use the image for print work or for larger billboard advertisements.

It’s all up to you and the way you write your photography contracts

Model Contracts

A model contract will be a little different from a contract for clients. The model contract is designed to tell models specifically how you will use the photographs they are in and whether they have any rights to override how the image is used.

In most cases, a model waves their rights to any usage of the photograph and grants you full usage rights. Depending on the model, there may be some variables built into this that prevent you from using the photos in certain ways.

Some models may require more money depending on the contract and what the images can and cannot be used for.

Other models, especially those who are just starting out, may just sign away all rights over to you. Due to the different aspects of modeling and who you are working with, you should have a few different model contracts drawn up.

This way, you will have a contract ready to go just in case a higher-end model has stipulations about what their images can be used for.

What Should Photography Contracts Include?

When creating photography contracts, there are several pre-written documents online you can download and use for free. However, you will still want to personalize the contract to include very specific information designed to protect you and your photography business. Here are just some basics you need to include with all photography contracts.

  • The basics
  • Price
  • What is being delivered
  • Delivery dates
  • Image rights
  • Failure to comply


When working as a professional, or at the very least taking pictures for clients and using models for a side job, it is important for you to cover yourself and to protect your rights. Having a contract will also protect your models and anyone else who is working with you.

If people are paying you to use the photographs, or if you’re working with anyone who might have their likeness within the photographs, it is crucial to create photography contracts. Once everyone signs the document, you need to file it away and keep it safe.

Should anything ever come up or if there are questions regarding the contracts, you’ll have the paperwork readily available.

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