There are some rumors that we human beings have a Predicting Mind inside our regular minds. Its job is to anticipate all the possible outcomes of every single action and reaction. A real estate photography contract is a soothing tool for this part of real estate photographers’ minds.
Setting an agreement is like designing a roadmap. For short distances, a verbal direction can satisfy our needs. But for a long road, we must have a detailed map. Otherwise, there will be much getting lost, frustration, going the wrong way, disappointment, and asking for directions.
Every contract has a unique setting tailored to the will of the parties. However, there are specific questions that every arrangement should answer. The answers can be concise (a short form) or elaborate (an extended agreement), but they must be there to have a solid contract.
So, we’ll start by reviewing the advantages of signing a contract for real estate photography projects. Then, we’ll attend to the pillars of every contact and how they are reflected in its terms. Finally, we’ll give you some samples of real estate photography contracts.
Table of Contents
Benefits of Having a Contract in Photography Projects
It usually gives people pause, having to sign a contract and worrying about its consequences. Unless a contract is heavily one-sided, any agreement is modified to serve both sides of it through:
- Protecting rights: A contract can help protect the photographer’s intellectual property rights, including the right to use the images for marketing or promotional purposes, and ensure that the photographer is properly credited for their work.
- Avoiding confusion: A contract states the expectations of both sides. This way, you can focus on shooting spectacular shots rather than playing guessing games with the client.
- Building trust and credibility: Using a professional contract demonstrates that you’re a pro and take your work seriously. Additionally, you make a solid foundation for future referrals and repeats.
- Preparing for the worst: No one starts a project knowing everything will go wrong. Nevertheless, you think about all the things that could go wrong. A contract is your contingency plan for the worst-case scenario. It may never happen, but if it does, you have nothing to be worried about.
- Staying organized: A well-prepared contract gathers all the necessary details in one place. So, if any question arises along the way, the terms of your agreement have the answers. With this focal point, you can save time and limit misunderstandings and errors.
In short, a binding agreement can assist you in avoiding misunderstanding, drama, and frustration while preserving your rights, time, money, and sanity! Of course, there is nothing wrong with a verbal agreement if both sides have impeccable memories, well-founded trust, and certainty that nothing can and will go wrong.
Now that we have established the advantages of a contract let’s see what pillars must be founded in it.
Pillars of Real Estate Photography Contracts
Remember the roadmap we mentioned earlier? It requires intricate details to work properly. To make it practical, we have put these pillars as questions. The answers can be found under one specific title or throughout contract clauses, but they must be there.
In an overview, these questions form the pillars of any solid contract:
Let’s check them out thoroughly.
It seems easy enough, but it can get complicated. Knowing the necessary details about the person you’re dealing with is essential. Sometimes the people involved go beyond the parties, including other service providers needed for the execution of the contract. The details for covering this pillar are:
- Full name, address, and contact information (phone and email) of the parties. Your contact person must be clarified if you are dealing with a company. Also, when faced with a big project needing multiple photographers, you should enlist their information as well.
- Sub-contractors’ information. If you are enlisting services, say for lighting, or the agent is using a staging company, their representative name and contacts must be included.
- Outsourcing services. That mainly applies to the post-production phase. If you or your client prefer a specific service provider, you can include their information. For instance, to edit the photos with Revivoto’s Image Enhancement service, or your agent wants you to clear the room using Revivoto’s Item removal and dress it up with its Virtual Staging.
You can choose titles (like the photographer or the client) for each party and use that throughout the contract.
This part is supposed to clarify what is expected of each party – what they are bringing to the table.
- Photographer’s tasks. It may seem evident since this is a real estate photography contract, but the details differ. Will you shoot the exterior or interior or both? Which rooms are you supposed to shoot in? How many shots would suffice? Are the specific features that must be included or brought to light? Do you provide aerial shots (drone photography)? Are virtual tours or videos part of your deal? Is post-production included? How many times is revision possible?
- Client’s tasks. Well, timely and full payment is the first thing that comes to mind, but there can be more. A clean and decluttered property is a prerequisite for your job. Unless you are taking it on, put this in your contract. You can prepare checklists and expect the client to prepare the location accordingly. Also, if using subcontractors, coordinating their operation falls under the client’s tasks.
- Mutual Understanding. There may be discussions before and after the signing of the contract. You can determine the value of side negotiations or verbal exchanges – whether the written agreement supersedes them or they can act as modifiers in certain circumstances.
In a nutshell, everything is expected of you, and what you expect from your client gets ironed out here.
Discussing the “how” is where you set the boundaries for your responsibilities.
- Equipment. If you or your client prefer using particular lenses, cameras, lighting, etc., it’s best to list them.
- Quality. Your client can enlist the resolution and size of the images for their usage.
- Delivery. Here you specify the file type of the preview and final works. Also, make the method of delivering the images in print, via transfer portals, or on flash memory.
- Method of payment. That entails how you will receive your fee – cash, online, check, etc. Additionally, you can state if there is going to be a down payment or deposit and its amount.
- Governing Law. For future interpretation and implementation, your contract must express the [State/Country] of the governing rules.
Entering into an agreement stems from a purpose. That sets the contract’s limits and clarifies each side’s illegal uses.
- Usage by the client. That indicates where the photographs will be used. Is it just for MSL websites and advertisements regarding the property? Or does the client plan to use them in other marketing efforts? You can determine other contract terms by specifying the usage, including fees, ownership, and licenses.
- Usage by the photographer. You may want to use the images in your portfolio or for exhibiting your work on different platforms. Since the subject of the photos belongs to the other party, you might need their consent for any usage.
The focal concept here is the ownership of the outcome. In the realm of photography, we are dealing with intellectual property and answering “who owns what” is a bit tricky. In strict terms, your clients only purchase the license to use the images in specified outlets. You keep the ownership of the taken photos, and any further application requires your consent and additional compensation.
Meanwhile, you are taking pictures of personal property, and there you have another owner. So, any usage from your side must respect the property’s ownership rights.
That is why it is recommended to set clear terms for usage by each side.
Contracts are usually filled with dates, each possessing a unique purpose:
- Signing. That marks the beginning of the entry into force date of the agreement. Of course, you can set a different date for this as well.
- Shooting. Depending on the size of the property, you may have multiple dates set for shooting. If it is determined by factors like prior preparations or the weather conditions, it’s best to mention those.
- Payment. Suppose you are receiving your fee in one sum or divided into parts. In that case, all must have a definite timeline – when the deposit must be made, when the rest is due (shooting day, after viewing the first draft with low quality and watermarks, or other deadlines agreed upon.)
- Revision. If you have agreed to deliver a first draft, it is best to set a timeline. When will you provide the client with them (number of days after the shoot)? How long can the client assess them and get back to you?
- Cancellation. If either party could have the right to cancel the project, the terms must be clear. How many days/weeks before the shoot cancelation is possible?
- Termination. When parties fulfill their obligations, the contract comes to a natural end. However, it is best to put that in your agreement. Also, there may be other causes for terminating the contract; you can set a date for those if needed.
While “location” is the main factor for this pillar, there are other relevant subjects as well:
- Shooting location. Every real estate photography contract must entail the complete address of the project’s site.
- Mailing or delivery address. The address must be included if you are supposed to send any bills or deliver the prints.
- Travel expenses. You may need to set travel arrangements depending on your designated service area. The fee can be determined as a flat one or based on mile count.
7. What if
That is the part our doomsday mind comes in handy. All the things that can go wrong fall under this section. Here we anticipate preparations and remedies for when either party does not meet their obligations.
- Force majeure. Some events are unpredictable, unavoidable, and external to the parties of the contract. Sometimes they only cause delay to the contract, and other times they make it void. You can regulate the effects in your agreement terms.
- Delays. Here you decide the repercussions if either party is late conducting their contractual obligations. Would there be compensation? Would it give the other party the right to cancel?
- Cancellation. Leaving room for cancellation is up to the parties. You can decide to have it under specific circumstances or remove it entirely.
- Modification. That may not apply to one project, but with an exclusive deal for a designated period, you may want to leave room for alterations. You can set its limits and terms in a clause.
- Conflict resolution. There may be misconceptions or misunderstandings even when all the details are out in the open. You can decide in advance about your dispute resolution method and its level of flexibility – Litigation, Arbitration, Mediation, or Negotiation.
Now that we know what must be included in a real estate photography contract’s text let’s review its standard headings.
Real Estate Photography Contract’s Headlines
In a typical real estate photography contract, we’d have multiple headings to organize the terms of the agreement. There is no set number for these headings, which differ according to the included details. The expected sequence of subjects in such contracts is as follows – we have indicated the engaged pillar in each heading:
1. Identity and contact information (Who)
2. Scope of Work (What, How, When, and Where)
- a. Photographer’s Responsibilities
- b. Property Owner’s/ Agent’s Responsibilities
3. Payment Terms (What and How)
4. Cancellation and Rescheduling (What if)
5. Copyright and Licensing (Why)
6. Image Delivery and Usage (How, When, and Where)
7. Photo Retouching and Editing (What and How)
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8. Liability and Indemnification (Why and What if)
9. Governing Law and Conflict Resolution (How and What if)
10. Termination (When)
11. Force Majeure (What if)
12. Entire Agreement and Amendments (What)
13. Signatures and Acknowledgement (Who and When)
As you can see, the pillars we discussed before are attended to throughout the agreement under different titles. The essential point is to provide answers for each question of all pillars.
Depending on the trust level and your relationship with the client, you can opt for a concise form, a short contract, or a detailed one. We have prepared samples for all these occasions; you can use them when drafting your own standard contract. Keep in mind that these are only suggestions for drafting. You should finalize yours after consulting with your lawyer.
We reviewed all the essentials for preparing a solid real estate photography contract. Remember to answer the pillar questions when dealing with any agreement, and you’re good to go. Of course, many unforeseeable forces are in play, and no one can predict them all. That is where the parties’ roles become more evident. A binding agreement can survive many storms if it is based on mutual understanding and equally supports the needs and interests of both sides.
Any agreement needs to meet six criteria to act as a legally binding document:
- Offer. That covers the reciprocity of the obligations.
- Acceptance. It can be manifested with signing.
- Awareness. That refers to a complete understanding of the terms without undue influence and misinterpretation.
- Consideration. Entailing the exchange of something of value for both sides.
- Capacity. Anyone entering into an agreement must have the agency for it.
- Legality. Being subjected to the governing laws and jurisdiction where they are signed.
Such contracts are legal documents formulating the agreement between the real estate photographer and the client – which can be an agent or property owner. It entails the scope of the service, payment, deadlines, responsibilities, and liabilities of the parties.
In a nutshell, they shed light on the expectations of the parties to avoid misunderstandings and disputes later on.