If you’re a member of even a single photography group on Facebook, you’ll inevitably see someone asking where to get photography contracts from on a fairly regular basis.  If you belong to multiple photography groups, it’s a question you see pop up several times a week.  With everyone asking this question, it seems like photography contracts are difficult to find but is that really the case?

It’s important to take a moment to note that I’m not a legal expert – this blog has been created to share my personal thoughts and feelings on the matter with my readers.

Whether you’re looking for a model release form, a portrait photography contract, a wedding photography contract example or a second shooter contract, the first thing you truly need to consider is establishing a relationship with a lawyer.

Lawyers often have standard contracts that they draw from, based on your industry, and will help you personalize them with any additions you may feel you need for your business.  Prior to setting a meeting with your lawyer, do some research online and take a look at some of the millions of articles that already exist that detail critical points to have in a contract and peruse some of the sample contracts you can already find online.  This is where you need to do your research; take me up on some of the best business advice for new photographers that I’ve ever given out.  Everyone’s business is unique and what you feel may be important, others may not.

Once you have your list of concerns that you feel you want to add into your contract, your lawyer will help draft it for you with all the proper legal jargon that will be oh-so-important if there’s ever a discrepancy that brings you to court.

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There are so many dangers in drafting your own contract; primarily, you may be omitting important sections that you didn’t even know should be in there.  Obtaining a sample contract from fellow photographers in Facebook groups isn’t going to guarantee you that they themselves haven’t accidentally omitted an important key point.  And… let’s be honest – the samples you get online will be riddled with more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese.  The only people willing to share a contract online are those who probably pieced theirs together on their own.  Those who have paid good money to have a contract properly drafted will be happy to provide you with tips or guidance, but never with the full document and out of respect for their investment, you shouldn’t expect it.

Just as we take to our own blogs to time after time create articles about the advantages of hiring a professional photographer, we also need to step back and listen to our own advice sometimes.  Let the professionals do their job – instead of asking colleagues for samples of their contracts, ask them for recommendations for small business lawyers.  While it’s understandable to be frugal in the early stages of your business, it’s important to invest into yourself and put your hard earned money into areas that will ultimately be for your own good – like your contracts.