Elizabeth Halford »

Masthead header

What’s in my Portrait Contract

I get asked a lot what’s in my portrait contract. A while back, I shared about my wedding contract and my portrait contract contains a lot of the same information. Note that under the bullet point that states that the deposit is non-refundable, I’ve added a clause with a tiny bit of legal mumbojumbo. The subject comes up often about whether to call a deposit a ‘deposit’ or a ‘retainer’. I once read that a ‘deposit’ can be refunded while a ‘retainer’ cannot. It seems that neither is true. I found this article to be extremely useful to cover my back in this area.

Note: Bear in mind, this is just MY contract and may not apply to where you live. I always recommend getting legal advice if you want to be absolutely certain that yours is legally binding.

{Gracie May Photography Portrait Contract}


Date of session:


Price of package (or simply just the session fee if they’re not pre-buing a package):

Deposit (Personally, I don’t do a deposit, the session fee is paid in full upon booking): £___

What’s included:

  • Bullet points here about what’s included, for example:
  • Session in x amount of locations
  • x amount of wardrobe changes
  • x amount of time for session
  • Full editing of all images
  • Online proofing and ordering gallery
  • -or- In home viewing and ordering session

By signing this contract and providing a deposit, you are agreeing to the following:

  • The deposit holds your date and is non-refundable should you no longer require my services. No amount of monies paid to me are refundable unless I experience an emergency that renders me unable to provide the agreed services.
  • The remaining £___ is due in cash on the day, before the session begins.
  • Should you fail to perform (you decide that you no longer require my services), liquidated damages shall be charged at the amount of £(amount of deposit paid). (Note: this is just another way of saying that the deposit is non-refundable)
  • Should I have an emergency and no longer be able to provide my services, I will provide a replacement photographer or refund your deposit. This would only be in the case of a true emergency and is never expected to be a possibility.
  • Should you need to reschedule due to illness, please give me 24-48 hours’ advance notice if possible. You are allowed one event of rescheduling but please give me as much notice as possible. Please don’t reschedule for minor skin injuries.
  • If the weather is torrential and we cannot shoot, the session will be rescheduled or shot in my studio. Clouds, wind, light sprinkles aren’t a problem and I usually go ahead in this case.
  • Please do not bring your own camera or recording equipment to the session. If a camera is present, I will have to request that it be put away and this is a very awkward moment which I would love to avoid.
  • Photographs taken by Elizabeth Halford (Gracie May Photography) may be used for the purposes of display, advertising, portfolio, website or any publication to promote my business.
  • At no time shall any of my work be saved to a computer/hard drive, shared online or printed without express written consent. This is a breech of copyright and illegal. If you purchase the digital files, these releases will be included. However, any blog posts or Facebook images posted by Gracie May Photography may be freely shared with your friends and family by way of a link back to the original content.
  • Feel free to invite family members to the viewing session. I am unable to leave images with you or post them to the internet, so this will be everyone’s chance to buy their own prints or contribute to a collection if they would like some images of their own.
  • I do not offer free or discounted re-shoots on the basis of client regret over wardrobe choice, location choice, etc.

I am obliged to explain the following:

  • Upon viewing samples of my work, you have decided to invest in my services to photograph you and your family because you are confident that I can give you results which you will cherish.
  • There is no knowing what photos will be produced from this endeavour simply because this is an event in the future.
  • As an artist, I reserve the right to artistically interpret what I see and in what ways I choose to photograph a scene. This may mean that some shots are colour, some are B&W. This is my interpretation and vision as an artist.

Signed: _____________________________________________ Date: _______________________

Print name: ______________________________ Address: _________________________________

Photographer Signed: ___________________________________ Date: _______________________

Pin It
  • http://www.lifeinbloom.ca Nicole Voth

    Thank you so much for posting this! I really, really appreciate your generosity in this post and so many others.

  • http://www.nelson.lifeyo.com Nelson

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s something I was wondering how to do it! Or at least get started!

  • http://www.andyphoto.co.uk Andy Mills

    I was wondering – do you print two copies of the contract (one for the client, one for you), or just the one and let the client have it (possibly not this one as you’d have no proof they signed it otherwise), or just you keep it?

  • elizabethhalford

    @Andy: I give them a copy and keep the signed one for me

  • Sarah

    I always look forward to reading your posts. You have so many great ideas and such honesty. I recently purchased the f/4 24-105mm lens (like the one you have). It was a hard choice because the f/2.8 was really tempting…but I already have a 50mm 1.4 so I figured I could change the lens out as needed. My question is regarding filters. I have never used them, but have read about the u/v and polarizing filters, for example. What is your recommendation?

  • elizabethhalford

    @Sarah: Yes I would get a uv filter simply to protect your glass. But I’ve never used the others :)

  • http://minmohd.carbonmade.com Min Mohd

    Thank you for this post :)

  • Sarah

    So is your portrait contract also a model release contract or is that a whole nother form? Also, do you shoot clients who don’t want to sign a model release?

  • http://pantier.com mary

    thank you so much for posting this. i agree, this is VERY generous of you to share. so many people who have paved the road in this are asking fees for this information, and those of us just starting out are throwing money that we’re not yet making at things in a “ready, fire, aim” fashion. this helps immensely.

  • http://www.jenniferkrafchik.com/ Jen

    Elizabeth – I really appreciate you providing this contract – it’s very helpful for us JSO.  At what point do they sign this contract?  I imagine that I will meet many of my clients for the first time at the session, so do they sign it then or do you email it to them and have them sign and mail back?  I’m trying to picture the deposit and contract signing process.  Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Hello! Before starting, I say “ok let’s get the business stuff out of the way” and as I pull out the contract, that’s usually a cue for them to get the money. If not, I have to ask for it which never stops feeling awkward, but it IS a business transaction after all. They probably feel just as awkward having to be asked for it when the realize that you kind of already did in your first “let’s get the business stuff out of the way” statement.

  • amanda

    Thank you for posting this!! I know you put a lot of time and effort into sharing your knowledge and anyone who read this will greatly benefit. So thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Christina

    I really appreciate you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience! You rock!

  • Alyssa

    Thank you so much for sharing! One thing I’ve always really loved about the photography world is everyone’s willingness to help out people like me, who are just starting out. This is really helpful!

  • Samantha DeLeon

    Thank you so much for spelling it out!!

  • Christi MacPherson

    This is great info and very generous of you to divulge. I’m looking at adapting this for commercial portraiture ( i.e. business clients. ) Do you have know of any changes that need to be made to this wonderful template of yours?