Photography contract, how to word or should I go with letter of engagement


TPF Noob!
May 15, 2022
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Hi, I’m bringing on a jewelry store as my “first” commercial photography contract. They already agreed to a price per item so we are good there. I’m only taking pictures for their website, they won’t be used for advertising that is not organic. I am going to be invoicing them weekly for whatever I give them when I finish. I want a deposit/retainer of say $1500-$2000 from them before I start their work. How would I word that in a contract and also is there a source for said contract. Will I need to reach out to a local contract attorney. I am located in Georgia.
There are a lot of standard photography contracts you can find searching on Google including words for deposit/retainer. Just adapt it to your circumstance. I've found that attorneys tend to complicate agreements to justify their high charges. These contracts then could scare away future customers and don't really provide much additional safety against non-payment. It's mainly the honesty of the customer. Agreements that look standard are not scary to customers are better to use in my opinion. A contract developed by an attorney with loads of small print scares them off. Think about it as if you were the customer.

The fact is you're getting upfront money that will be applied to work you do. You;re billing weekly. Ask your client how long does it take to process your subsequent weekly invoices? Will they accept weekly ones? Do they have a minimum of 30 day payment cycles so you wind up waiting a month or two minimum? Contracts aren't going to help with non-payments.

I'd limit the extent they can use your photos and mention that sales taxes are extra. How will you handle their review of the photos if they don;t like them and refuse to pay? I'm not a commercial photography; my business was elsewhere. So specific terms and concerns about photography would be better volunteered by others.

A couple of comments and don't take this the wrong way. I'm assuming you trust the customer? That he pays his bills? Have you asked around? Checked his BBB? Has the jewelry company been in business a while. What's its reputation?

Have you determined how many items you're going to photograph approximately so you know the total bill? How many weeks will be involved? Would it be better to ask for let's say a third down? Both sides should know approximately what the total cost is going to be. They know how many items have to be photographed. So should you so you can determine the total cost and time.

When I first started out in my business, I got stuck with $3500 of nonpayment from the customer. It wasn't worth going to court with a lawyer so I wrote it off. It taught me a lesson to work with honest customers who pay their bills. Don't let this scare you away. You have to start somewhere and I wish you loads of success.

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