Turning Pro Part 8: Legal

stockxchng-to-sign-a-contract-3-stock-photo-by-shhoProfessional photographers have to think about the legal aspects of running a business.  You have to think about various things like contracts and copyrights.  Here’s an introduction into some of the things you will have to consider:

1.    Contracts

When you are doing a project for fun, you may not need a contract.  When you are working professionally then it’s always important to have a contract.  If you are doing a big job with certain commitments you need a contract.

A contract can cover what is expected of you in the job – so that you don’t end up doing a lot more work than was verbally agreed later on.  You will also agree things like time frames, how many images need to be given to the client in the end, if there are any add ons (such as prints or post production work), and of course, the price of the project t and how much it will cost for additional work.

You can add things like your hourly rate if extra work beyond the boundaries of the contract is required, for example.

Make sure both you and the client sign and date the contract.  Sometimes a verbal contract is not enough if you have invested a lot of time and money into a project.  The more people you have involved in the work the more you should protect yourself.  It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you out draft up a template for a contract or you can look online for templates, and taylor them to your own needs.

2.    Model releases

Model releases are very, very important whenever you shoot someone for a commercial shot or for your own portfolio.  When you work with a model – can be a professional or an amateur model they need to sign the form so that you can use the images freely (although not in a derogatory sense – for example using a models fashion image in an advert for drug addiction without prior consent).

Model releases are especially important for children – unless they are your own you must away get a parental signature.  In fact some clients will not print anything with children in unless you can prove you have a model release form as they can get into trouble for printing it.

In some cases, such as photojournalism where there are crowds you don’t have to get a model release form although once again, you can’t use derogatory titles with these images.  Model release forms are all over the internet.

3.    Copyright

You can watermark your images if you don’t want people to use them for their own purposes and you can also use online free services like copyscape to protect your work (say if it is on a website).  The internet makes copyright that bit harder to protect these days but there are certain procedures you can follow if you feel that someone has broken your copyright rights.  Once again a lawyer can advise you if this comes to light and someone is profiting from your photographs.



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