I am so proud to introduce The APAlmanac Contract Template. In over a decade of photographing architecture, I have talked to thousands of working photographers, whether it’s for a lunch, on an online forum, here on Apalmanac, or at workshops or conferences. Without fail, the conversation leads to our shared struggles of running a business in a largely independent field.
The APAlmanac Contract Template is an instant digital download for architecture, real estate, and interior design photographers which contains a full-length contract designed specifically for those of us who make money photographing the built environment. Never again will you feel unprotected or adrift when it comes to working as a professional photographer; the goal is to provide clarity for both the photographer and client. Licensing agreements are clearly spelled out, your workflow is protected, you’ll never go uncredited again, and you’ll never have to wonder just how in the world your photos ended up on the pool contractor’s website without your permission.
Every page in this contract is crafted from lessons learned, and it has been written to be easily adaptable to your own business. Included with the contract is an explainer that will walk you through the process of understanding the contract and applying it to your own situation. However, straight out of the box, it should be good to go with minimal fuss. Not only is a contract protecting you, it is protecting your client, and will elevate the experience of working with you to that of a true professional. You not only owe it to yourself to use a solid contract, but to your clients as well in order to communicate your professionalism and bring clarity to the business relationship.
My actual contract
No BS, this is the actual contract that I use every day in my business. I’ve redacted my own name and information and uploaded it in three different formats (Word, PDF, and RTF) so you can use whatever program you’d like to swap in your own information in place of mine. Or feel free to change licensing terms, payment terms, or whatever else you’d like, to suit your work style and client expectations. Click the gallery images below for a sample. The actual contract spans 11 pages in PDF format.
An explainer document
Most of the contract is relatively self-explanatory for anyone who has worked as a professional photographer for just a single gig or for decades. Nevertheless, there are certainly some more nuanced sections of the contract which are helpful to completely understand. Arbitration, separate exhibits and attachments, and expiration of limited licenses, to name a few. The explainer also shows you just how I get my clients to sign the contract and the simple workflow that I use to ensure a quick send of the contract and estimate, and a frictionless way to get clients to sign the document without having to print or open up a PDF reader to do so. I want my clients to have an easy experience working with me, and that includes their experience signing contracts. I know they can be onerous and burdensome, but that is not the case here. Quick, efficient, and clear – the three hallmarks of a great contract in any business.
A sample estimate
Similar to the contract, my estimate has been crafted to work in tandem with the contract, and will show you how I structure and build an estimate to correspond to the contract. I use BlinkBid to craft my estimates, which is a fantastic program built for photographers, videographers, and production studios that need to keep track of revisions, licensing, advance payments, and expenses beyond creative and retouching fees.
Who was this written for?
I’ve made a very conscious effort to have this be usable by any architecture, interior, or real estate photographer anywhere in the world. Anyone who wants to work like a consummate professional. Anyone who wants to protect their business interests, provide their clients with clear expectations, and be able to defend yourself when jobs go awry (hey, it happens!). We have all been there. I am confident that the architectural photography industry as a whole would be a better place if everyone used this contract. No matter what sub-genre of architectural photograph you produce, the core of this document will be relevant and very easily adaptable to your business. Whether you’re delivering 100 images per shoot or 3 images a day for a giant hotel ad campaign, you’re covered. Even if you don’t use the contract in its entirety, I am so confident that if you purchase this, you will find language within the contract that easily adds enough value to your business to offset the cost within just a few gigs, and you will be better able to navigate the business hurdles of being a fully self-employed photographer.
I don’t live in America. Is this relevant?
Yes. Because I not only work in California, or even solely America for that matter, I’ve worked diligently to make this as clear as possible regardless of where you are working. There are some universal truths with regards to photography; to name just a few, you should be paid for the work you do and you should also control the rights to your images that you’ve created. There should be a clear set of expectations from you, the photographer, and from the client. You should be kept safe on the job. You should be granted access to your subject matter with minimal hassle. You should be paid for work beyond the original scope of the assignment.
As far as I know, in most locales in the world, these statements are fairly basic, but it is incredible how often I am told that photographers struggle with enforcing these very basic rights (though the degree with which you are able to enforce and collect infringement monies for copyright violations may vary drastically). Feel free to translate this into your preferred language (or swap the Zs for Ss, for those using British English). Consult a local lawyer, barrister, etc, to tweak the language for your individual business case.
How will the product arrive?
The product will arrive in a .zip file containing a .docx, .pdf, and .rtf version of the file. Click on your preferred file format to open in your preferred text processor, or upload the .docx file to Google Drive and edit it with Google Docs, if you would like a free solution. Also included is a PDF “explainer” document which should open easily in any default program or
Can I use this on my iPad/Kindle/iPhone/Tablet?
You may have difficulty downloading onto a mobile device unless you can download directly into the ‘files’ app (iPhones and most Apple products include this). We recommend downloading first to a desktop or laptop in order to adjust the contract to your liking, and then transferring to your phone or iPad using your preferred method.
Do you know a lawyer I can use?
Yes. I worked with Hew + Bordenave to fine-tune this for architectural photographers. I’ve worked with them on copyright litigation cases and they are a joy to work with. Based in California and Hawaii, they can probably help you if you are in America and have questions regarding copyright infringements or difficult legal situations related to your photography business.
Your purchase funds the Architectural Photography Almanac
We are proud to run a blog free of advertisements and as a result our topics are not influenced by financial bias or pressure to positively review a certain piece of gear or suck up to any industry figures. Writers are free to explore any topic, whether controversial, opinionated, or otherwise. Sales of this contract template generate income that helps to pay for server costs, pay the writers for their valuable contributions to architectural photography, and for our Mailchimp subscription which we try not to annoy you more than once every other week with despite the angry emails that tell me I’m wasting people’s precious inbox pixels.