Attention Photographers: Avoid This Biggest Legal Mistake!
No matter if you are doing nature, portrait, travel or wedding photography, at one point your passion may turn into profession and you want to monetize your photos.
With that being said, you should be familiar with legal stuff especially an important document called Client Service Agreement. This great article written by Rachel Rodgers addresses the biggest legal mistake photographers make.
I highly recommend every photographer to read this article and find out the solution. Also, let us know what you think!
Whether photography is your bread and butter, or something that you’ve started out doing casually with machinations of eventually picking up a few paid gigs, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with a sexy little document we lawyers like to call, the Client Service Agreement (or CSA, for short).
CSAs are, as their name suggests, agreements that you, as a photographer, make with anyone who wants to pay you for your photography. Again, we’re not just talking to the professionals here. We’re also talking to those of you with your entry-level DSLRs shooting your friends’ weddings or head-shots on the occasional weekend. Food, selfies, and your niece’s birthday party might be the only things in front of your lens at the moment, but as your skills improve, so will recognition for your photography. It might not be long before folks start offering you money here and there for your work. When that moment comes, you want to be prepared to accept the gigs offered to you, while presenting yourself as a professional, and covering your rump in case things go wrong. How do you do that? You guessed it – with a CSA. It is a huge legal mistake photographers make not having a formal agreement or contract.
Why we all need CSAs. Yes, even you, part-timer.
Before we get into what a CSA should contain, let’s first take a brief trip down scenario lane so you get a good idea of what we mean about covering your tuckus in case things go wrong. If we lawyers know anything (and we don’t know much), it’s that everything’s all smiles and giggles until somebody’s wedding photos get lost in the cloud storage ether, or someone else demands a full refund because the head-shots you spent three hours shooting and imaging “just don’t look right.” Take it from us, whenever somebody is paying somebody else for a service, especially a service like photography where the outcome can be pretty subjective, things can get all Judge Judy real fast. People have certain expectations about the outcomes of products and services that they pay for (as they should), and unfortunately, sometimes those expectations are unreasonable. If you have your policies clearly set forth in a CSA, you’ll have something concrete to point to when someone comes complaining about the work that you produced, making unreasonable demands.
But, CSAs aren’t just for governing complaints from unreasonable clients. CSAs also exist to inform your clients – at the get-go – of how your engagement as their photographer will proceed, and what they should expect from the relationship. By having a CSA in place, your client has some peace of mind in knowing when, how, and at what cost you will perform your services and deliver your product. Likewise, you have peace of mind knowing that you have a legal document to lean on if their payment is late, or you make a mistake, or a seagull makes off with your lens during a beach wedding shoot.
Okay fine. We all need CSAs. But how do I make that happen?