Contract and/or General Terms and Conditions?
Do you need a contract or GTCs? Or both? The GTC are the common rules that are applied by default to all your customers. For example, you will describe the terms of payment or the way in which you deliver the final photos.
The contract, on the other hand, is specific to a service and therefore to a particular client. The contract will contain the client's full contact details, the agreed price and the date of the session. It is also in the contract that you will note any specificity of this session in relation to the general sales conditions. For example, has the client negotiated a special clause? This should be noted in the contract.
If your services are standard you can use only general terms and conditions. You can also use only a contract that includes the clauses of your GTC if you wish.
Finally, you can also have GTCs and a contract if you want to keep the contract "light". So you have enough freedom in this respect but I would like to draw your attention to something important. In general, the general terms and conditions are attached to your invoices and quotations but the customer is rarely asked to sign them.
In this case, if there is a problem, a client could tell you that they have not seen your terms and conditions and therefore were not aware of them. On fotostudio, a checkbox "I accept the terms and conditions" must be ticked when accepting a quote. But even better, when you send a contract to your client, they can sign it directly online.
This is why I advise you to work with a contract rather than with GTCs, you have the guarantee that it is signed and do not take any risks in this respect. But you can also add a paragraph at the end of your contract stating that by signing it, the client has taken note of the general sales conditions.
Adaptations and Validation by a Lawyer
Each photographer has a unique situation and needs. These differences need to be reflected in each photographer's contract and GTC. There is no perfect model that will suit all photographers, but the one proposed by fotostudio will serve as a good basis to which you can add your specificities before having it validated by a lawyer.
It is indeed essential to ensure that your contract will be usable in case of problems and that a clause does not make it null and void. This basic contract will already be quite complete and will save you from spending too much on legal fees.
The Essential Clauses
Let's get to the heart of the matter, what are the essential clauses to insert in your GTCs and contracts?
This is where we describe the purpose of the contract, which is to order a photo shoot. This is also the opportunity to introduce the photographer and his services.
You can detail in this clause what constitutes a valid shoot order. Should the booking be made via your website? By email? Does a contract need to be signed or a deposit paid to validate the order?
3) Fees and Payment Terms
How can a client pay for your service? Do they have to pay a deposit? How do they do this? Is the balance of the service to be paid on the day of the session? In cash? By cheque?
You can also take advantage of this clause to explain that your rates may change over time and that a future order will not necessarily have the same price.
4) Modification of the Service
This is where you describe the conditions for changing or cancelling sessions. Can your client cancel? If so, how long before the session? Will the deposit be retained?
5) Performance of the Service
In this section you can find all the practical information about the conduct of the session.
6) Clients Obligations
What happens if your client arrives late for the session? Does he have to ask for special permission, for example from the priest for a church ceremony? And if a child breaks equipment, who is responsible?
Make it clear here that you alone are responsible for any retouching you do to the photos from the session. This is an integral part of your work as an artist. This may also be an opportunity to specify that unretouched photos will not be delivered to the client. If the customer has the possibility to choose the photos that you will rework, explain the procedure to follow for this choice.
Explain in this clause how soon your client can expect to receive the photos. In what format will they receive them? And in what way? (online gallery, USB stick, ...).
9) Retention Period
What happens after the photos have been delivered to the client? Do you have to be able to provide him with a copy if he loses them? If so, how long after the session?
The purpose of the limitation or exemption of liability clauses is to reduce or eliminate your liability as a service provider in the event of a breach of your obligations.
What are your responsibilities if you are unable to attend the shoot due to force majeure or illness? What if the shoot cannot take place due to bad weather? What if your equipment has a technical problem in the middle of the session?
11) Intellectual Property
Remind your client that even if you provide a copy of the photographs, they remain your intellectual property. They may not use them for commercial purposes without prior agreement with you.
12) Image Rights
Everyone has a right to their image and your client may refuse to allow you to use photos of their session for self-promotion. Describe here clearly why you might use the photos and that he has the right to agree or disagree.
13) Personal Data
With the new European laws on data protection (RGPD), make it clear to your client that the data collected when the order is placed will only be used to manage your clientele and the smooth running of their session.
14) Applicable Law
The purpose of this clause is to specify which national law will govern the relationship with your client and before which jurisdiction any disputes should be brought.
The aim is to specify that the law of the photographer's country (French, Belgian, etc.) governs the contractual relationship and that disputes must be submitted to the jurisdiction of the photographer's city.
15) Model contract and GTC for photographers
Fotostudio has created for you templates of contracts and GTCs ready to re-use.
You will find them in your account, tab "Settings" > "Templates contracts & GTC", they are available as soon as you register, even in trial period.
A major advantage of Fotostudio is that your clients can sign these contracts directly online. These contracts are also "dynamic" and directly adapted to the details of your clients and their sessions.