Photographers: What contracts do I need to run a photography business?

Photographers: What contracts do I need to run a photography business?

Maybe it started at a young age, using a family member’s old camera, snapping pictures of toys, flowers and animals. Perhaps it was a discovery you made when you were in high school and working on the yearbook committee. Or maybe it gently snuck up on you much later and now you live for the feeling and magic that exists as you capture an image and it becomes a still snapshot of that moment in time. Forever. 

However you came to be a photographer, if you’re ready to take the leap and start your own photography business and make a living doing what you love, you need to make sure you’re set up legally for success and know what contracts you need to run a photography business. You’ve got the talent. Now let’s make sure you have the right contracts and paperwork to support your amazing biz.

Photography Services Agreement

A solid Photography Services Agreement is going to be your best friend as you start growing your client list. A great agreement will cover payment terms and extras like travel time, additional edits and so on. It’ll also clearly state who owns the intellectual property, speak to turnaround times, cancellation policies, model and property release obligations and more. Don’t get stuck without this bad boy.

Privacy Policy

Your Privacy Policy is what helps keeps both you and your (future) clients protected when you need to collect their personal information. It explains to everyone checking out your awesome photography website how you’ll collect, disclose and use and personal info shared with you. This isn’t a cross your fingers and hope for the best situation. It’s a necessity.

Website T&Cs

Much like the privacy policy above, if you’re going to have a photography website up and running (if you aren’t, maybe you should reconsider starting a business…?) this legal doc will reduce your biz’s exposure to liability should something go wrong online, like if someone tries to steal one of your pics online and pass it off as their own. It happens. It stinks. So be smart.

Model Release Form

Depending on the type of photography you’re capturing and how you want to use, you may need a Model Release Form. If you’re interested in using your pics for commercial purposes, (like advertising for yours or another business) and said pics have an identifiable image of someone (the model), you’re going to need one of these in order to legally utilise their image.  

While this gives you an idea of the kind of contracts you need to run a photography business, it isn’t so easily cut and dry. Kind of like taking pictures of animals and toddlers, surprises can crop up that you need to be prepared for (like adding hours or a new location last minute to a wedding shoot). For a little more insight, check out our Photographer’s Guide to All Things Legal for Your Photography Business and take some time to explore our photographer’s template collection

Good luck on your exciting journey creating spectacular memories. If you need any more legal support along the way, we’re here for you



Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach, podcaster and a lawyer for over 16 years. She’s also a mum and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke.



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This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.


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