Photography terms and conditions are essential to you photographic business. It can save your reputation as a photographer, a lot of money and most importantly a lot of time. I nearly had a bad experience a couple of years ago, when I was contracted to do a studio photo shoot for Dock Of The Bay, a clothing company based in the UK. I was set to photograph their Autumn range of clothing in a studio I had booked in Leeds. There were also 2 models booked for the day and everything was set.
Two days before the photo shoot around 4 large boxes of clothing arrived. They were sealed and upon opening the garments were still packaged and most importantly no creases were ironed out. If I had not realised this, my one day photo shoot would have turned into a 3 day nightmare. I would have to have got somebody to iron all the garments during the photo shoot.
My terms and conditions fortunately have very specific instructions about the product and location, here is an excerpt:
Photography terms and conditions
(a) Model and prop hire is the responsibility of the client.
(b) Studio, lighting & accessory hire for the photo shoot is the responsibility of the client.
(c) The product, location must be ready for photographing, if this is clothing, it must be in a clean and ironed condition.
(d) The sizing of the clothing is the responsibility of the client. If the clothing does not fit, I the photographer will not be held responsible.
(e) I the photographer will not be responsible for untidy, dirty or creased clothing. Retouching fees do not include cleaning and removing creases from clothing or damaged, dirty products.
(f) Objects or vehicles etc must be ready to photograph. If it is dirty or damaged, I the photographer will not be held liable for the cancellation or delay in the photoshoot.
(g) If it is location photography, the property must be in a presentable and ready to shoot state. I the photographer am not responsible for preparing, cleaning or any preparation that needs to be done before the photography can take place.
The client had to iron and prepare all the garments. They were transferred onto mobile wardrobes and brought to the studio ready to photograph. I suggest if you do not have photography terms and conditions, you download a template online and adjust it to suit your business model. Be sure to get a photography terms and conditions version. These will include all the various copyright laws regarding photos and who owns them.
I was recently contacted by a USA based colleague of mine who had completed a product photoshoot only for the client to reject the photos as the products “Did not look nice”. He had got old and worn stock to photograph and a whole lot of t shirts that were badly creased. It took him 12 solid hours to re photograph the products. Needless to say he has now updated his terms and conditions.
The product was worn, scratched and damaged. This was no fault of the photographer, rather unreasonable expectations from the client. The only way to fix these photos would be to retouch them. This unreasonable client expectations had led him to actually losing money on this photography assignment gone wrong. A photographer only needs to focus on one aspect of product photography, take the best possible photos of the products they have been instructed to photograph. The location, the product the model all need to be prepared by the client before the photo shoot. If these terms and conditions are met, the photographer will deliver great product photography.