As well as weddings, I shoot some commercial work and always have done. So what do we need to know about the legal side of commercial photography? Here we are going to look at some of the implications, how to hold onto your copyright and what you need to include in a contract. I have included a download of a sample contract as an example of what you could include in your own.
So you have been approached by someone to shoot some commercial photography… this could be for a venue, some products or a shoot for a business to use to promote themselves. This can be a great string to your bow and fill in those gaps when the weddings are not so busy. They might not pay as well per day as weddings but they don’t usually take up your weekends and can bridge the gap in your income in the quieter months. While I’m not particularly keen to tackle corporate head-shots, I have a steady stream of commercial work over the year including food and restaurant photography, product photography and work for wedding related companies. A couple of advantages for me are, I can pick and choose the work that I like the look of and find challenging plus a lot of it is repeat bookings… unlike weddings which is a one off gig, if a commercial client is happy with you and your work, they are highly likely to come back to you when they need more images.
A lot of companies or people who are not used to booking commercial photographers might ask you for the copyright to be included and all too often inexperienced photographers will hand it over. NEVER include the copyright unless you include a juicy buyout fee in your day rate. It is not industry standard to shoot and hand over copyright and if you do, you have absolutely no rights to use your own images anywhere. Meantime the client is free to use them in anyway and even sell them on without your permission. They very rarely need the copyright and it is more typical that you would issue them with a commercial license along with a contract.
So what does the contract need to contain?