I was recently asked:
"this is my first commercial job and all I’ve done so far is agree a price. Presumably I’ll need some sort of contract? Or do I? And is there such a thing as an example or template I could adapt and use?"

It’s a sad fact that the imaging industry is being eroded by the uneducated.

When I say "uneducated" I’m referring to people that don’t invest any time to know their rights, how to manage their copyright/license or just how to run a business.

It’s fantastic that talented image makers get an oppertunity to be rewarded when asked to make an image for a client, but when they don’t know how to quote and they give away their pictures for virtually nothing or their objective is only to buy a new bit of kit… that’s where a problem can begin for both client and supplier.

All too often people are doing bits on the side without covering their basics never mind making a profit.
(It is a business after all)
Some companies are quick to exploit the uneducated, because it keeps their overheads down. It’s not their fault. They’re looking for the best price and so they may discuss a project with someone lacking in business knowledge and talk them into working under the market rate.

But it can turn out like printer ink……

I stocked up on some cheap ink off the web for my document printer at 1/3 the price of branded ink.
Bargain I think. Keeping my overheads and expenses down.
The TV adverts said "Buy branded ink – it’ll last up to 30% longer than unbranded ink".
I sit there thinking "Yea, but I can get 3x the ink for the same price."
I get the ink, I put it in and it doesn’t work or the results are unreliable and no good, not what I wanted.
I end up trashing all the cheap stuff and having to go out and buying the branded ink to do the job right.
Waste of my time. Waste of my money.

You’ll notice that larger companies skip the ‘cheapest is best’ approach when it comes to their public image and they’ll go straight for the right person who can deliver the desired results first time.
They understand the value that they will bring to their product.

It’s easy to spot how we get programmed as it spills into other areas of our life too.
For example, if you go to a restaurant, and we find ourself looking at the prices more than the fare, then chances are we rarely end up with the best plate of food in front of us and we’re left unsatisfied.
If we ordered our favourite dish then we get what we want – even if it cost a few percent more

I’m happy that people get out there and sell themselves, there is plenty room for everyone, but to properly exist side-by-side with full time photographers, they need to correctly quote and bill for the job.
Even if the license is free/included, we still need to know how to create the paperwork to protect our commercial and private clients.
Clients also need to protect themselves by making sure they get hold of the right paperwork.

I did a couple of years semi-pro before I moved to full-time but I always quoted and billed a proper price, even though it wasn’t my main income. Ironically it was easier then as I had an income from the day job so I had some security. If the job didn’t go through then I had my weekend free to relax or do my own projects with no fiscal dent. Win-win.

So, how do we get educated?

If you’re interested in making money from photography then there’s really only one source that’ll answer all your questions. It’s the best investment you’ll make and is useful for clients that need to know their rights too

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