Let’s face it, in today’s world it is always better to be safe than sorry, especially for artists with demanding clients. I’m a huge believer in utilizing contracts to keep everyone on the same page, but contracts can be difficult when they are severely limiting.
Lately, there have been numerous stories in the news of photographers and clients alike filing legal actions against one another. Fstoppers has covered a few of these stories. Andrea Polito, a Dallas-based photographer, filed suit against her clients for damages associated with defamation of character and reputation and won after the couple was accused of running a smear campaign. This week Fstoppers also reported on Peter Cepeda suing model Gigi Hadid after she posted one of his images on social media without his permission.
Recently I received a photography permission form used by Guns N’ Roses. The form is mandatory for photographers that plan to photograph the band’s shows. After reviewing the form, I found that along with the typical legal jargon, it contains a lot of protocols for photographers to follow, including the need to bring longer lenses versus shorter focal length glass. The form is quite specific, but this is their contract after all. They are within their own rights to set certain limits. At times it may seem excessive, but these limits protect us as photographers and artists alike. It is a tough balance, but a strict contract typically proves useful in the end as was the case for Polito. So when as an artist do you decide it’s not worth the frustration and headache when working with potential clients that have very specific contracts?
Many new photographers tend to gloss over the legal aspects of the business and focus solely on their craft, but having the legal protection is a vital aspect of the business that should not be overlooked. There are a multitude of legal service offerings online with popular ones being LegalZoom, Doracy, and Honeybook. Releases, which was featured here on Fstoppers, is also a great app for in the field model release forms. Also if you're a member of PPA, then you already have access to their forms and contracts. While I’m in no way a legal expert, my only suggestion is for each artist to make their own judgment call on what legal documentation they feel is necessary for their business. One day they may need it or risk being bankrupt and out of business.
Do you protect yourself with contracts? What would you do if presented with the Guns N’ Roses permission form?