Did you know the most respectful act you can perform toward your clients is to draw up a contract agreement? There isn’t any higher compliment. By putting a contract into place you are essentially saying to your client, “I care so much about your business and your happiness with my service that I want to make sure nothing is left to chance or circumstance.” It is important to think about it this way. Contracts are not “I don’t trust you so I’m going to make sure you don’t jerk me over. Sign here.” No, contract agreements are actually contracts of caring respect. I have heard of professionals losing good, long-standing friends and clients because they didn’t take the time to draw up a contract. You may at this point be nodding your head, yes I know this… blah…. blah… but I think you may be surprised to find out a lot of times people aren’t upset about the product or service itself. A lot of times the “big stuff” like the work being shoddy or the product was not what they expected is fine. What comes between people is usually the little details like, delivery times, how many hours of work the job included, what would happen in case someone got sick…
Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s all in the details.”? The details of the contract is where you solidify customer satisfaction. When you and your client sit down and discuss and document details in a contract agreement, you are demonstrating unwavering dedication to your craft.
We are all human. We do not have perfect recall. A lot of times projects will take a while to complete. If all you have is a verbal contract and a hand shake, then what will you do when 6 months pass, your project is finished and what you remember is not jiving with what they remember. It’s not that either of you are trying to be deceitful. You both really remember things a different way. The dirty details are what get us every time. Do you care about your customer satisfaction rating? Then use contracts.
Where do I go to get contracts?
I have a number of resources I use for my contracts. The following is a list of what I use and where it can be found. I highly recommend you not google “Portrait Session Contract” and use anything that pops up. There may be things in there that, because of the way it was worded, won’t stand up in a court of law. Get someone who knows what they are doing. I also don’t recommend you go to a lawyer who doesn’t know anything about the photography industry, and have them draw you up a standard contract. Get a lawyer that is familiar with the photography industry. A few of these are from lawtog.com. The girl who drafted those contracts works in the photography industry and is also a lawyer. Perfect storm. I highly recommend them.
- Conceptual Portrait Contract (Portrait Contract)
- Product Delivery Contract for Photography
- Photography Workshop Contract – (For those planning to teach workshops only.)
- Model Release Forms (Adult and Child) – Top Model Release App for smart phones.
- Credit Card Authorization Form – Paypal.com – This is an online credit card authorization form through paypal. It does not process transactions. It just grants and creates a record of authorization.
- Payment Plans (Automatic billing) – Paypal.com How to set up recurring subscriptions and payment plans up to 4 installments. Make sure you get the credit card authorization form recorded first.
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