Photography Contract Basics

Photography Contract Basics

No matter what the occasion or type of shoot, if you are hiring a photographer you should sign a contract. If your photographer does NOT have a contract—RUN!

The contract will help you and your photographer better establish what is expected and can keep both parties out of any legal disputes and keep you both on the same page for expectations.

While the contract can seem intimidating there are some key items you will want to pay particular attention to.

Photographer Contracts Must Haves

The basics.

You want to make sure the general information is included in the contract. Name, address, and contact number should be in the contract for both you and the photographer. For our studio, you do this all electronically when you book us.

If you are shooting at a location this should also be stated in the contract along with the date the shoot is taking place.

The total price should also be included, as well as any tax you might be expected to pay. There should be a clear breakdown of what is included in the price such as hours of the shoot (mostly for weddings, for portraits hours may not be listed), prints, additional hour fees (if there are any), and extras.

It should state any deposits you have made, method of payment and the date you need to pay in full. In most states, deposits are refundable and retainers are not. So keep that in mind as well. With a retainer you are paying the photographer to hold your date and that money is used for that.

The rights.

Who will own the copyright of you images is something many people overlook. You want to read carefully how you and the photographer can use the images after the shoot. Will you be restricted from posting them to your social media accounts? Do you have the right to make prints? Will your photographer be using them for promotional items or on their website? You want to carefully discuss this with your photographer to avoid and legal issue in the future.

With our studio, for every print you purchase, you get a watermarked social media file. You can also purchase digitals separately. You can print from these and share for personal use all you want. If you want to resell the images, use them in a contest, an ad or anything like that, you’ll need to discuss this with your photographer as different usages, mean different rights.

The clauses.

The contract will have a section that protects the photographer against any unforeseen circumstances that make it impossible for them to be present or complete the shoot. Equipment failure, medical emergencies, and other unavoidable situations can prevent the photographer from completing the job they were hired to do. It will typically state whether there is a backup photographer on call, refunds that will be given and other liability issues you will want to be aware of.


You want to know what the cancellation policies are for both you and the photographer. How long before the shoot do you have to inform the photographer you are canceling to be able to get your money back. While most photographers rarely give a full refund you can expect to get something back if you cancel within an appropriate time frame. This also goes for if your photographer has to cancel. Be sure to know what their refund policy is.

Our studio has a nonrefundable retainer used to pay for the photographer’s time to hold your session (and in some cases buy special props, etc), paperwork involved, etc. If something comes up, in rare cases a refund may be remitted on a case by case basis.

Timeline/Shot list.

You want to make sure that you and the photographer are on the same page so having an outline of what you both expect from each other is a good idea to include in the contract. This is especially true of wedding photographers.

Usually, with our studio, after you book a newborn session, I’ll send you a questionnaire to get an idea of what you would like. You may also send me inspiration images. Each session is unique though an babies and people react differently, so I can’t make any guarantees if I will get the exact shot. But I usually try my best.

If you ever have any questions about a contract with us, feel free to contact Christy.

Jacksonville, Florida photographer. We specialize in newborns, families and corporate photography. Our North Florida service areas include: Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Fleming Island, MacClenny, Middleburg, Maxville, Yulee and Callahan. For more information and to get a custom quote, please contact Christy directly. Christy Whitehead Photography, 514 Chaffee Point Blvd. #9, Jacksonville, Fl 32221 - (904) 891-0359