Monthly Archives: May 2015

What to Include in Your Photography Contract

When you are making the step from photography as a hobby to photography as a business, one of the challenges is getting contracts organised. For many of us, this is an unfamiliar area and is about as much fun as doing our tax returns! Equally, we know that it is important because it puts in writing the commitment of the client and the photographer, and protects us should anything go wrong. So, what to include in your photography contract?

My Business

Contracts are vital to outline commitments of all parties and to protect your business

Below is a list of what I include in my photography contract. Please keep in mind it is not a definitive list. If you are an experienced industry professional and want to add input for other readers, please comment on this blog post. If you are new to the world of paid photography and contracts, please add your questions in the comments area on this post. I will do my best to answer them, and other readers will add their thoughts. Just keep in mind that I’m a photographer and not a lawyer. If you want expert legal advice, you will need to speak to a qualified legal professional.

What to include in your photography contract?

Who is the contract between? In my case it is between my company and my client. As I shoot weddings and portraits, my client is usually an individual or individuals, but the client could also be a business if you are shooting commercial work. For weddings, I include both the bride and groom as the client and ask them both to sign the agreement.

What are the details of the shoot? The contract applies to the specific shoot you outline on the agreement. For example, if it is a wedding, this part of the contract covers where it will be held, the date, the time photography starts, the time photography finishes, and any special details of the wedding.

Copyright and Images. My agreement outlines that my company owns the copyright for the images produced. It also makes clear that the client can use and display the images for personal use.

Permissions. I include in my contract a section which specifically outlines that my company is able to use the images for any industry competitions and in general promotion. In many contracts you will see a separate ‘model release’ section. I cover this in a single paragraph outlining the permissions given by the agreement.

House rules and cooperation. This section of my contract is specific to weddings. It makes clear that if there are any house rules from the venue that may limited the photographer, it is the responsibility of the client to discuss them with the venue. It also makes clear that if the client wants specific guests included in the images (like in family formals) that they will assist in organizing the people to be in the right place at the right time. And while I have never had a major issue with a wedding guest pushing in on me, I make it clear that if that occurs it is the responsibility of the client to deal with the guest.


I make it clear in my contract when payment is required

Retainer and Payment. I ask my clients to pay a non refundable retainer at the time the contract is signed. I also outline when final payment is due. In the case of weddings, payment is due 4 weeks before the wedding date. I find I do a lot better job for my clients when, not only am I sure of being paid, but when I have been paid already.

Limit of Liability. This is a vital section of my contract. It outlines that if something goes wrong (like if I am in hospital with a broken leg on my clients wedding day), that I will organize a suitably qualified replacement photographer. The key part is that it makes clear that in the event of things not going smoothly, that my liability is limited to a refund of monies paid. That protects me from any damages claims in the event that things go really wrong.

Completion schedule. This section outlines my commitment for when my clients can expect to receive their images. I have a separate clause which also outlines that additional time will be required for albums, prints, canvas prints etc.

Free Format Area. I leave a free format area towards the end of my contract. This is a space that, if I am sitting with the client, we can hand write in any specific details which either party would like to add to the agreement. It can also be used for notes about what the clients photography package includes.

Signatures. At the end of my contract I have a simple line which reads ‘I hereby agree to the terms of this agreement’ with space for the client to add their name, signature, and date. I also add my name, signature, and date as their photographer.


Getting the contractual side out of the way allows me to focus on delivering a great experience and images to my client

I have heard of some photographers using very long, complex contracts. I believe in simplicity and not overwhelming my client. Mine is 2 pages.

I hope this post covering ‘what to include in your photography contract’ has been useful to you. Please use this as guidance only and speak to a qualified legal professional for expert advice.

Starting Out With Light Modifiers

Many readers of Beyond Here are wanting to take the step into the professional photography ranks. They are looking to make photography a significant part of their income, and then make it their main source of income. Making that leap often means learning the skills and having the equipment to shoot multiple days of the week and in different lighting conditions. In many cases this will bring an ‘outdoor’ photographer indoor where they will need a range of lighting equipment, and the skills to use them. In this post we look at starting out with light modifiers. Here is an overview of the basic equipment.


This image was shot with a single soft box to the left of camera

Reflector – a reflector is a very simple piece of equipment. They are straightforward to use and simply reflect the existing light. They come in silver and gold which create different levels of ‘warmth’ in the light. Reflectors come in a range of sizes and are cheap and worth having.


The simplest light modifier is a diffuser for a speedlite

Speedlite Diffuser – a speedlite diffuser is the most basic type of light modifier. They come in various forms, but the most simple is a piece of plastic which fits over the head of the speedlite. They are surprisingly effective in softening the light from your speedlite. They are very cheap and worth getting. The speedlite shown in the diagram is being used off camera. If you have never used your speedlite off camera, please see this post. Learning to use your speedlite off camera and softening the light will open up a new world of lighting opportunities for you.

Reflective Umbrella – umbrellas are ideal for creating soft light across a large area, which makes them useful for lighting groups of people. They are cheap and easy to use. The only disadvantage is that they tend to spread lots of light around. Like the reflector, reflective umbrellas come in different colors – silver, gold and white.

Shoot through umbrella

A simple set up for a speedlite to be fired through a shoot through umbrella

White Shoot Through Umbrella – shoot through umbrellas are great for diffusing light and spreading it evenly. They are simple to use, and as the name implies, you shoot the light through the translucent umbrella. They come in different sizes, so keep in mind that the light will be softer when coming from a larger source. Shoot through umbrellas and reflective umbrellas are very easy to use in an indoor environment. An example is in this post. Be very wary of using umbrellas outdoor. Even a very small gust of wind will catch the umbrella and blow your equipment over.

Scrims – a scrim is a square or rectangular frame with diffusion fabric spread across it. They are typically larger than umbrellas and can be used to create large areas of diffused light. Use a scrim to diffuse light from flash, continuous lights, or the sun.

Soft box – soft boxes give the photographer more control of light than umbrellas. Soft boxes are what I use most frequently in the studio environment. They are simple to use and avoid light spreading everywhere in the studio environment. Soft boxes come in a range of different sizes from small to very large. Choose which is most appropriate for your lighting needs and your space.

Soft boxes

An example of soft boxes in a simple studio environment

That covers the very basics of starting out with light modifiers. This post only touches the surface of a large subject. I’ve done it without mentioning beauty dishes, gridspots, Fresnel lights, or an octabox! Thanks for reading starting out with light modifiers. I hope it has demystified light modifiers and given you the encouragement to begin modifying your light.

7 Great Questions to Ask When You Start a Photography Business

This week I’ve had four photographers who are starting photography businesses approach me to ask for assistance. It is exciting that people are taking that step, and using Beyond Here as a resource to help them.

These four people are all launching their businesses on a part time basis – in addition to holding full time jobs. I like that approach. They have cash flow coming from another source while they build their photography business. As we have discussed their businesses, all four have asked me the same question “Craig, could you critique my portfolio?” While I am happy to provide them with input on the style and quality of their work, there is a real danger that photographers get too focused on the images and not focused enough on the business.

If you are starting your photography business, or reassessing after being in business for a while, here are 7 great questions to ask when you start a photography business.


When you are starting out, ask lots of questions about the business of photography

Question 1 – who do I know who can help me generate clients? When you are starting in business it is common to have high hopes, big dreams, and not many clients! Building a pipeline of clients can take time, but everyone has a network who they should ask to help them. If you are a wedding photographer, do you know a marriage celebrant who could help you? If you photograph new born babies, do you know mothers of little ones who could help? Or a mid wife? If you shoot events, do you know someone who is an event organizer? or who works at an event venue? These people can help you. Ask them.

save time

An efficient work flow will leave more time to focus on clients

Question 2 – how can I refine my workflow to complete jobs efficiently? Shooting and editing jobs is only a fraction of the tasks you will do when you are running a photography business. If you spend too long completing jobs, you won’t allow enough time for the important tasks of finding and meeting new clients. A great starting place is to challenge yourself whether your work flow is optimal. Many professionals outsource post production work to allow them to focus more time on clients. Is your workflow working for you or against you?

Question 3 – what will I do if I have a gear failure? Having a gear failure on one of your first jobs is very unlikely but could quickly bring an end to your business if you have not planned for it. Imagine a wedding photographer with only one camera whose gear fails minutes before the ceremony. You are not likely to have a long successful career if your first bride doesn’t get images of the ceremony and reception. So how will you handle this? The easiest is to make sure you have multiple cameras and lenses. Then if you have a failure in one, you can go to your alternate. (If you are a wedding photographer, this is another good reason to work with a second shooter. For more good reasons see here). If you can’t afford to purchase back up gear, make sure you borrow some from another photographer.


Plan in advance for how you will get paid

Question 4 – do I have a process to get paid? Do you know how you will bill and collect payment from your client? As a wedding photographer I ask for payment in advance. It is written into my contract that payment will be made 4 weeks prior to the wedding date. When I am shooting a wedding it is reassuring to know that not only will I get paid, but that I have been paid already. Have you considered issues around payment?

Question 5 – how will I back up my clients images? When you are running a business you can’t afford for a computing error to cause you a client disaster. There are many ways to back up your clients pictures to protect you from losing your clients files. I keep mine on a laptop, backed up on an external hard drive, plus USB storage of clients files, plus off site back up with an online storage provider. It might sound like a lot of caution, but a photography business can’t afford to lose client files.

Question 6 – are myself and my gear insured? Unfortunately it is not uncommon for a photographers equipment to be stolen. Unless you can afford to replace all your gear in the event of theft, it is important to have insurance. You will also need to look into public liability insurance. Again, small businesses can’t afford for an event like a wedding guest tripping over your camera bag to put you out of business. For more information on liability insurance please see this post.

Question 7 – how can I generate more income from my current jobs? Many people get into the photography business by shooting family portraits or weddings. They both provide an excellent opportunity to better serve your client and to generate greater revenue. If you shoot family portraits and provide images on disk, you have the opportunity to provide prints and albums. That can add greater value for your client and generate more income for you. As a wedding photographer, can you provide high quality prints and frames as well as electronic images? Can you provide the bride and groom with a service to turn their images into a classic album? With one each for both sets of parents? Look at your existing work and find ways to add more value for your client and generate more income for yourself.

Thanks for reading 7 great questions to ask when you start a photography business.

Pay day

Generating more income from your existing clients or jobs is a great way to grow a photography business

What To Do When the Ideas Dry Up

This week I was one of the guest speakers at a function hosted by iStock / Getty Images and General Assembly in Melbourne, Australia. The topic being discussed was How to Build a Small Business Brand on a Budget. I was bringing a photographers perspective in relation to producing new stock photography content.

In that presentation I covered ‘my inspirations’ behind being able to produce 1000 new stock images per year. I have summarized those points for this post and called it – what to do when the ideas dry up. Ironically, after more than 7 years of producing stock photography content, I find it easier to find new ideas and generate new content now than I did 7 years ago. The list below is my “go to” sources when the ideas dry up. Each photographer is different, so this list might not suit you. If it helps – great – and if it doesn’t, work on your own list.


Few tourists would know this part of Melbourne. Local photographers produce unique local content

(1) Local Content. My first go to idea is to shoot local content. I love living in Melbourne, and don’t think I will ever get tired of shooting local content from a local’s perspective. My starting point for what to do when the ideas dry up is to shoot local content.

(2) Client Feedback. My second ‘go to’ idea is to seek client feedback and keep shooting what they want, and avoid what they don’t want. In some ways this takes the pressure off having to come up with all the great ideas myself, by asking clients what they need.


I shoot wildlife images as I believe in and support the work of conservation organisations

(3) Interests and Causes. My third ‘go to’ space is to shoot content about things that interest me or causes I believe in. I am an animal lover and believe in the work of conservation organisations. I like shooting wildlife images that will be useful to these organisations, so when the creative juices aren’t flowing, I’ll go and shoot some wildlife images.


Shooting for fun can help you create unique images

(4) Shoot for Fun. This one I am not so good at. The concept is to not be at all concerned about the outcomes and just shoot something fun. This might be something new as well, so it will have an element of learning as well.


I know business and try to shoot business themes

(5) Shoot What You Know. I find ideas come more easily when I focus on a subject I know. Having worked in a corporate environment for 20 years I have a good understanding of what works for business images. When I am struggling for new ideas, I’ll work on concepts for an area I know.


Getting back to nature helps me relax and develop new ideas

(6) Nature. Lucky last! When I’m really stuck for new ideas I’ll take the chance to relax and get back to nature. There is a beauty and simplicity in observing nature, and often it will get me into a more relaxed frame of mind and help the creative ideas flow again.

Thanks for reading ‘What to Do When the Ideas Dry Up’. I hope it has been useful to you.

Inside a Stock Photography Shoot

I am in the process of shooting a series of stock images of business people. This is a very popular category of stock images, with continual demand for fresh content. Images like these are used extensively in websites, brochures, corporate communications etc. You can probably imagine, this is a very big market. So this post looks behind the scenes, and takes you inside a stock photography shoot.


Lighting is important. The model needs to be well lit, with a pure white background

Lighting. Once you understand how to light images like these, it is straight forward to produce a wide variety of business images. And equally, if you make a mess of the lighting it can be very hard to produce usable files. For this shoot I used a lighting set up very similar to what I outlined in this post. It has one off camera flash to the left of camera, fired by a remote trigger through a shoot through umbrella. In this case it was a 43 inch umbrella. The model is lit with just the one light. The background (a white muslin backdrop) is lit separately through another off camera flash, again fired by a remote trigger (you can read more about the triggers here). This ‘blows out’ the background so that it appears completely white. That flash unit is placed between the model and the backdrop.

Space. It’s a misconception to think you need a large studio space to be able to shoot these kinds of images. The room this image was shot in is 3.2m wide and 6m long. The backdrop is 3m x 3m and just fits across the width of the room.

Smiling business woman

Makeup, wardrobe and posing are key to effective images.

Wardrobe, Makeup, and Posing. Wardrobe, make up and posing are very important in shooting this style of image. The model needs to be believable and realistic – in this case she needs to look like a professional business person. For this shoot we used two different colored shirts – one white and one blue. We also took images with the jacket on and jacket off. That helped provide a range of images – some of which look more formal, and some which look more informal.

The brief for her makeup was ‘light and natural’ which she did very well. It helps to reinforce the ‘real business people’ theme.

Posing is also important for this type of shoot. When we weren’t using props we focused on a ‘natural and confident’ look like in this image. Because of the studio setting and the beauty of digital photography we were able to shoot and review each image until we got the right look. While this image is very simple it has flexibility – the model could be anything from corporate executive to a home based entrepreneur.

Shoot Length and Process. This shoot took 90 minutes and that is fairly typical of my stock photography shoots. I find that is long enough to get a range of images, but not too long that the model or the photographer get bored!

We started this shoot with straight forward poses like the one above and then move to more specifically themed images using props. Mid shoot the model took a wardrobe change giving us the opportunity to assess the images taken up to that point and to plan how to make the most of the remaining time.

Corporate Whistle Blower

Corporate Whistle Blower. This image uses a sports whistle as the only prop.

Post Production. I aim to keep post processing to a minimum on stock photo shoots. I import the files to Lightroom, check for sharp focus, set the white balance and make minor changes to color saturation and contrast. Importantly, I make sure the background is pure white. This is a short process which takes 1-2 minutes for each image.

Where to from there? I complete model releases and look after any paperwork with the model before we start the shoot. That means that after post production, the file is saved as a JPEG image. From there it is uploaded to iStock (along with model release form). It then goes through an inspection process and, assuming it passes, is added to the stock database and is available to be downloaded. That’s it – inside a stock photography shoot.

Note, the model in this shoot is Klara. She is an up and coming model in Melbourne, Australia and is originally from Frankfurt, Germany. She is a great person to work with. See her current work here.

Thank you for reading ‘Inside a Stock Photography Shoot’. If you would like to receive regular emails from Beyond Here, please add your email address in the sign up box in the margin of this page. Thank you.