Contracts, releases, rights?


Recently, I’ve been quite immersed in forums at photo.net and digital photography school reading up on the business side of things. And I don’t know that I’ve ever been more confused!

I just want to take people’s pictures, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s a teeny bit more complicated than that.

Should I have my clients sign a contract? What should that contract say? What am I obligated to provide? What would I be stupid to provide? Should I give them a disk of images? Even unwatermarked images? What about printing releases? Am I expected to provide quality prints? How much should I charge? Should I charge by the hour? Or by the event? Should I charge more if I just give them the images?

Here’s what I want to do. I want to go and take pictures. I want to capture the beautiful moments. And then I want the people to have those photos. So that they are more than welcome to print them if they want. Or they can just put them up on Facebook, if that’s what they want. I don’t want to bother with prints or albums. Is that a bad idea and I’m just naïve in thinking it’s that simple?

And I need some advice! Photographer, pro and fledgling, what are your policies in this area? Or if you’ve ever paid for photography…what did your photographer offer you?

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2 Comments to “Contracts, releases, rights?”

  1. Well you need a model release. Which is a contract that lets the photographer use the images for certain purposes. If you just plan to use the images for a portfolio and not make money, that needs to be written in the release…if you plan to make money (use them commercially) that needs to be written in the release).
    I have a ton of examples around the net and my own example if you want to email me, I can send them to you (kendrakantor[at]gmail[dot]com)
    You aren’t obligated to provide anything. I think the generic release I have written states 5-10 photos (in jpg format) will be sent within 3 weeks. It also says they will only be large enough for web viewing and not printing. I think the release I wrote is only for TFP however, and I do have written that the model can contact me for prints.
    I usually wouldn’t give them large enough images to print, just because that makes me nervous lol so printing releases, for me, would just be used in case of weddings. Sometimes it’s easier to give them large images and have them print them for a wedding, because there are just so many pictures.
    If you are comfortable giving the models large files so they can print, yes you need a print release. I have a few examples of those as well if you want them.

    Okay I’ve talked enough lol just email me if you want more info :)

  2. The girl I use charges $150 a session just to do pics of my kids. I can add more kids (like my nephews) for no extra charge. She takes pics for about an hour then edits them at home. Puts them all on a disk (or two) and gives them to me. I can print as many as I want.

    When shooting weddings she does the same thing to include engagement, bridal, wedding, and reception photos. She charged $750 last time I talked to her about weddings, but was about to go up some.

    She started out at $75 a session and $500 weddings. She has been raising her prices over the last three years and is doing well for herself. Good luck whatever route you take. You are talented and will do well no matter what you decide.

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