One minute you’re running out the door to a rescheduled family shoot while the sun’s still shining. The next, you are sitting in a studio that looks like a small tornado has hit it, and you wonder if it’s even possible for a newborn baby to wee on quite that many blankets! A few hours later, and you’re editing like a crazy person so that your client can choose the portrait they want to have framed in time for Mothers Day. In France.

Yes, we get it. That’s our life too – always running. Trying to get stuff done.

We know exactly how frantic it is, when you want to do your best work for clients – and you’re wearing all the hats: marketer, Facebook ads creator, SEO guru, photo editor, accountant – oh, and photographer. And that’s without even mentioning having a personal life.

You’re probably like most UK photographers: decent and hardworking, running a successful portrait business with happy clients.

That can change in a heartbeat.

A client throws a wobbly when they don’t get the raw files. Or they say they had no idea the sitting fee did not include all the files and threatens to trash you on Facebook and Google reviews. Gulp.

That last one – that’s the one we live in fear of, right? Even though we run our businesses with honesty and and integrity, in a few stomach-churning moments, our work lives can be turned upside down. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Even though we might not talk about it – and its easier not to think about it (who wants to tempt fate, right?), it’s still there.

There is an easier way.

Use a contract. We wrote this contract with a UK legal firm, which covers everything we could reasonably think of. It took months of our time and days of expensive lawyer time, so you’re getting a bargain. The contract gives you and your clients clarity. It spells things out in simple language, so everyone is clear up front about all the aspects of working together including those hot buttons of image rights, raw files and what’s included in your sitting fee.

Buy our contract template and adjust it – all you need to do is follow the detailed walk-through so that it fits your business; it takes less than an hour. Then use it. It protects you and it protects your client. Did you know that this is a thing? That a contract cannot be one sided and needs to protect both sides?

Let’s face it – contracts are not glamorous. They are a bit like life insurance – no one wants it really and you are hoping you will never need to actually use it! But if you are running a professional studio, and want your clients to understand how you work, and commit to working with you on YOUR terms – then it’s really worth having one. It encourages best practice, and it means that any misunderstandings can be kept to a minimum – and you can run your business knowing that you have done the best you can to protect you and your family in case any issues arise. So get yourself sorted for 2018, and start the year as you mean to go on!