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If you are a professional photographer, you are a business owner, and as such you need to protect your work, and also ensure your clients are getting what they need. Here are 10 'need to know' guidelines to think about specifically for contracts between a client and a professional photographer. 

1. Have One! Always Sign a Contract!

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The first rule of thumb for protecting your work is have a contract and have it signed. You may think that you don't have to worry about contracts -- that stating everything clearly and upfront is enough. Unfortunately, that's  never enough. People will forget what you say, and some people can even be unscrupulous when it comes to things like this. You need to protect yourself and your work. The best way is to get it all down in writing. This might seem like a daunting task, but don't worry! There are many options as to contract templates for any type of event or situation, you just need to choose the one that best works for you.

Professional Photographers of America provides lots of useful contract and model release templates for free! Consider joining today for a lot more resources that will help you be more protected and more profitable. 

2. Keep Your Contract Simple and Clear!

If you can't find a template that has everything you need on it, or you're just not satisfied with the wording, you can always edit them or create your own. If you create your own, it's always good practice to have a licensed attorney take a look, especially since laws differ from state to state. When you do this, make things as simple and clear as you can. It can seem a bit intimidating, but it doesn't need to be. Start by making a list of everything you need to include, like pricing, timeframes, revisions, and payment methods. You can add other things depending on the situation or event, just cover all the pertinent information, and make sure that both you and your client are covered. The best contracts cover all the bases clearly so that the artist and the client both feel comfortable with signing it.

3. Make it Easy to Read

Your contract doesn't need to be a convoluted mess of big words and phrases. You shouldn't need to include a dictionary when you present it to prospective clients. Don't get too wordy with legal jargon, and make sure that the people signing it understand exactly what you are proposing for the potential job. It's always a good idea to be mindful of the fact that if you aren't a lawyer, and you can read it and understand what it's saying, then the client probably can, too. Still, make sure they know it's okay to clarify things if they need to. Just make it easy for them to ask you.

4. Make it Yours - Adapt the Language to Your Services 

Your work is unique and stands out; that's why you are marketable. Your contracts should be as uniquely yours as your work is. There are several ways to make a contract "yours." Here are a few:

  • Create a unique letterhead
  • Include your pricing, payment options and timeframes
  • Make your own schedule and timeline based on your work habits
  • Create different contracts based on events or client needs
All of these things, when added in, will help make the contract unique to you and your client's requirements.

5. Document Changes (Make Sure You Have a Paper/Email Trail)

No matter how thorough you are about writing your contract, there will be times when the unexpected happens. Life, nature, and even equipment can all be a factor in things changing at a moment's notice. When these things affect you to the point that changes need to be made in the contract, things can get tricky. But you can still keep everything under control if you just document every change that has been made. Changes that should be well documented include:

  • Changes in deadlines
  • Pay schedules
  • Any modifications made to the original contract
Avoid unnecessary stress by keeping things organized from the start. For example, there are times when changes have to be made and agreed upon via email. When this happens, keep all emails relating to revisions in a unique, label each client's folder clearly so they can be accessed easily, and not accidently deleted. If possible, also have your client sign off on changes (electronic signatures will suffice).

6. Discuss Payment/Pricing and Terms of Your Services

Pricing and payment can be a difficult subject, especially if you haven't clearly defined your brand's worth, but it is one of the most important parts of the conhttp://bemore.ppa.com/free-release/tract. It can't be overlooked, or glossed over. Pricing and payment terms need to be laid out clearly. Once you have decided how much your work and particular brand is worth, you need to cover how you will get paid in the contract. It can be broken down so you get a percentage of the payment up front, and some full payment after all work is completed, or in steps throughout the process. It's up to you, but make sure it is stated clearly. Some things to consider when covering pricing are:

  • How much is to be paid
  • When it is to be paid (include the terms and payment over time options, if applicable)
  • How payment will be accepted
  • If there is a grace period on any payment due date
  • Consider if money paid upfront is a retainer or a deposit (varies by state, most are retainer)

7. Have a Model Release

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Often times, photographers work with models. This adds an entirely different element to the process. Whenever you are photographing a live subject, have them sign a release. If you don't, it may come back and bite you in the end. People can be very particular about having their images or likeness spread around. But if you have a model release clearly stating that you own the copyright for your work, also include purposes the image may be used for (marketing/social media/competitions, etc.). Phrases like "including, but not limited to" also help, within reason.

For customizable model releases and access to plenty of copyright resources, consider becoming a member of Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

8. Copyright and Release

When covering copyright and licensing laws it can be confusing, and a little tricky to navigate. This is where it would be prudent for you to do some research. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you want to be able to do with your art, and what you will allow others to do with it. It's important to establish that you own the copyright for your work, and that you decide how it will be shared. There are many resources published by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) where copyright laws are covered. Knowing and understanding the laws will ensure that you and your work are covered as well. A quick visit to PPA's copyright resources can be helpful (and free!), but when it doubt, it's always prudent to check with a local copyright attorney for a contract review. 

9. Get. Your. Contract. Signed!

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We cannot emphasize enough how pointless it is to have a contract if it is not signed. Until you have signatures from your clients showing they agree to the terms and conditions, your contract is just a piece of paper. A signature from your client shows you are hired, and a signature from you commits you to the job, and confirms that you are the righteous copyright owner. So... GET. IT. SIGNED!

10. Jointly Review the Contract, and Update It as Needed

As a final step, make sure you review all the important details of the contract with your clients, and update anything that needs to be updated. Make sure that all the bases are covered to avoid any conflicts or confusion later. For any updates that need to be made, refer back to point number 5, document them, and keep those updates well organized and accessible.

Having a contract does not just protect you and your work. It is every bit as important to your clients, making them feel that their investments are well protected. Your clients should be just as happy and comfortable with the arrangements as you are. Keep these 10 guidelines in mind to keep happy clients, while protecting yourself and your work as well.

Looking for a contract or model release template? PPA has created the basics to start you off. Give it a try! Interested in finding out about all the other benefits that PPA has to offer its members? Check out the photographers' bullet list of benefits, perks, and savings that come with being a part of Professional Photographers of America, and then consider joining today!

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For months now we have been hearing about the electronic travel ban for certain flights arriving from Europe and the Middle East, but were not quite sure how it would affect photographers. While this ban is still being worked on, the TSA has released a new policy.  

On July 26th the TSA announced new screening procedures for any electronic items in your carry-on bigger than a cell phone. These items, such as camera bodies, tablets, light sources, lenses, etc., must now be taken out of your carry-on bag and placed in a bin, similar to what we have been doing with our laptops for years. 

This new security policy has already been implemented in 10 airports:

  • Boise Airport
  • Colorado Springs Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Logan International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport
  • Luis Munoz Marin International Airport
  • McCarran International Airport
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
All other airports will begin adopting this new policy in the weeks and months to come. With this in mind, it is advised to arrive at the airport a little early to accommodate the possible increase in wait times at TSA Security Check.

PPA will continue to keep an eye on this policy and others as they are introduced, and notify you when additional airports are added to this list. 

by James Yates
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By now you know PPA is always fighting for your rights on Capitol Hill, lobbying and advocating for improvements to copyright registration and the modernization of the copyright office (including a small claims option). 

We're pretty proud of the "big-picture" ways that we're working to improve your business's sustainability and profits, but there's a smaller way that PPA has helped, behind the scenes, for years: assessing whether or not members' works have been infringed.

If you feel your work has been infringed upon, but you don't know what to do about it, PPA can help with our Copyright Infringement Assistance tool. It's designed to point you in the right direction, with steps you can take to stop the infringement! It's quick and painless...because having your art stolen is painful enough!

With PPA's Copyright Infringement Assistance tool!, if you think you've been infringed upon, you only have to answer 2-3 questions and the tool will generate specific help for you, including DCMA takedown notices, certified letters to the infringing parties or letting you know when it's time to contact an attorney.

Stop by PPA.com/Copyright and check out all the copyright assistance available to you as a member!



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The times, they are a changing... and it could have a HUGE impact on how professional photographers protect their images and their livelihood. 

Under the current copyright legislation, infringement claims must be filed in person and in federal court. Two unfortunate things about this: this is a labor-intensive process, and federal cases are very expensive. This is what keeps many pros from pursuing rightful justice. But things are about to change!

Thousands of creative professionals banded together in support of the "Fairness for American Small Creators Act," a "small claims bill" that would make it possible for small business image creators (including professional photographers) to take advantage of the U.S. copyright system for the first time since its inception!

If approved, the Act would allow for photographers and visual artists whose work has been infringed to file for a hearing with a small claims process online without having to hire an attorney.  Additionally, copyright claims could be filed without prior registration with the Copyright Office. The maximum recovery amount would be set at a manageable $30,000, ensuring that small creators have a place to remedy their copyright infringements, while also preventing the pipeline of infringement claims from becoming clogged (like it is now). Last but not least, those who still wish to pursue their claim in federal court may still do so. It's a win-win for copyright infringement victims and cases of all sizes.

The small claims issue is currently on the list of four necessary reforms Professional Photographers of America (PPA) has been advocating for the Copyright Office. Now more than ever is the time for creative artists to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill. Getting involved is easy. PPA has partnered with other leading visual arts organizations and created a Grassroots Action Team dedicated to fixing this broken copyright law. Visit their website PPA.com/Grassroots and add your name to a growing roster of individuals and businesses seeking more effective copyright legislation. Once signed-up and when the bill is reintroduced, you will receive alerts and information on how or when to contact your representative. 

For so many working photographers, making great images is a passion... and now protecting that work can be a right. Make your voice heard in supporting the "Fairness for American Small Creators Act" and the protections it brings to so many businesses and livelihoods.


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by Sidra Safri 
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Do you ever wonder if your client fully understands their contract--especially the portions dealing with copyright or the usage rights? Some clients are so focused on the end product they completely forget that they may have to ask permission to use their new images for something other than personal use.
 
PPA has a small fix for that. Included in your membership kit (and renewal kit) is a stack of copyright inserts. These inserts can be stapled to your contract or be included in all the materials you provide to your client. The copyright inserts explain copyright law in a nutshell, and urge the clients to ask you, the photographer, for any additional information. Sometimes a gentle reminder or simple education can go a long way. 

These copyright inserts can be downloaded and printed anytime you need them here. 

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by Sidra Safri
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With the holidays right around the corner, many members are looking into getting a drone and adding drone photography to their repertoire.  In adding drone services, many members are focused on making sure they have the best drone, are properly certified, and have all the training necessary to ensure they can capture that fantastic photo. However, during all this excitement, many members will forget that it is necessary to update their contracts to make sure they are protected from any contracted-related issues. 

PPA knows it's important to make sure our members are ready for anything. That's why we have done some of the work for you! Now, under the forms and contracts section, exclusively for PPA members, is a Drone Clause that you can add to your existing contract. This contract has been reviewed and approved by an attorney, but keep in mind this is only meant to be used as a starting point. You still need to make sure you are in compliance with your local and state laws as they can vary drastically from location to location. 

Last, but not least, remember to fill out the Drone Survey request you received last week. These survey responses help guide PPA in knowing what our members want and need, thus allowing us to provide you with the best possible benefits! 

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PPA is pleased to introduce a new General Liability Endorsement exclusively made for 
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UAS/Drone operators! 

PPA's General Liability Insurance has coverage of $1 million per occurrence, or up to $2 million total. If you want to cover your drone under the same terms, it is recommended for you to purchase Drone endorsement insurance as well. Please note that this coverage is sold separately from the PhotoCare Equipment Insurance that is provided with your PPA membership. 

Drone Liability Coverage terms and conditions: 

  • You must be a member of PPA
  • Coverage must e purchased in conjunction with PPA's General Liability coverage
  • Limit options of $50,000 and $25,000 
  • Annual premiums of $150 and $100
  • Must be compliant with Part 107 Federal Aviation Regulations, and also state and local regulations
  • Operation of drone must be in connection with a paid assignment for your business
  • Defense coverage is included inside the limit of liability
  • Coverage extends to bodily injury and property damage of others

Ready to purchase coverage? Call our team at 888-202-1526 to secure your coverage today!

Not sure what the new FAA drones rules are? Visit PPA.com/Drones.
 
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With the new FAA regulations regarding drones going into effect August 29th, you need to have the most up-to-date information to fly and use a drone for business or work purposes. Bottom line: you MUST take the aeronautical knowledge test (the "Drone Test") and have your drone registered. Here are important links and guidelines that will be helpful while navigating through the process.

  • In order to sit for the "Drone test", and be able to apply for the remote pilot certification, the applicant must be at least 16 years old, be fluent in English, be in good physical and mental condition to operate a drone, and take the test at an approved FAA knowledge testing center. Step by step guidelines are posted on the FAA website under requirements and process for becoming a pilot.


  • All applicants need to take and pass the Drone Test in order to apply for their remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. The cost of taking the test is $150 and, once certified, the certification will be valid for two years. Taking the test and getting certified allows photographers to use drones during photo sessions in accordance with FAA guidelines. To ensure that everyone has the knowledge necessary to pass the drone test, the FAA has posted various study guides and sample test questions for applicants to study. These materials can be found under the FAA's suggested study materials

  • Once an applicant has passed the drone test, applied for and received their remote pilot certification, they MUST register their drone. The drone must be registered if it is over .55 pounds, up to a maximum weight of 55 pounds. The 55 pound limit includes any equipment you attach to the drone, such as your camera. Registration cost is only $5 and will be valid for three years. All drones need to be registered at https://RegisterMyUAS.FAA.gov/.

  • Your drone must also undergo a pre-flight check to ensure it is in proper condition to be operated. This link has a .pdf of the FAA's pre-flight checklist. 

The FAA has addressed some Drone Regulations frequently asked questions here. Here is also an easy-to-read recap chart with all the necessary information regarding both pilot and drone requirements:

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You can find even more information in the FAA's Getting Started guide. We hope you're as excited and ready to fly your drone as we are! Share your (legal) drone photography with us on theLoop, Facebook or Twitter! Now, get out there, take some amazing photos and share them with the world!

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by Lindsey Forson

Drone lawyer, Peter Sachs reported on his website (dronelawjournal.com) this morning that he
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 has obtained a summary of the forthcoming small drone regulations from the FAA (for non-hobby and non-recreational use of UAS) which will reportedly be officially released from the FAA tomorrow. Read more from Forbes here. Stay tuned for updates from PPA regarding the new drone regulations beginning tomorrow. 

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Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!


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By Lindsey ForsonThumbnail image for Capitol_Copyright_Blog.jpg

Memorial Day is just around the corner and, once again, PPA is on Capitol Hill advocating for stronger copyright protection for professional photographers! Our priority issue - the creation of a small claims process for copyright infringement claims - continues to gain support throughout Congress. Multiple offices within the U.S. House of Representatives are eager to take initiative on this issue, and some are even beginning to work toward the creation of legislation which would achieve this goal. We expect to see small claims legislation introduced before the end of year, and most likely, much sooner than that!

PPA will discuss specific details of potential small claims legislation this week during meetings with established supporters of copyright small claims. It is extremely important for us to work with Congress at the outset to create a small claims program that will operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. Through other meetings, we will continue to introduce the idea of copyright small claims and lobby for support for the issue. Our hope is that when a bill is formally introduced, this concept will already have vast support on both sides of the aisle in both the House and the Senate. We are well on our way toward accomplishing this!

In addition to advocating for the creation of copyright small claims, PPA will continue to lobby for improvements to the copyright registration process and the modernization of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Stay tuned to PPA.com/Advocacy for more updates from the Hill!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lindsey_9955e_bw_cr.jpgLindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!


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