Birth Contracts

A birth photography contract needs to be different from your standard photography contract in many ways, but some things are very much the same. I’ve gone through several versions of my contract, and I hired an attorney to review it and give advice every. single. time. I cannot stress enough how helpful and worth every penny that has been! Because of the expense and the way contracts are tailored to specific state laws, it’s not appropriate to ask for someone else’s contract for free.

My current contract is structured so that after each of the main sections there is a place for clients to initial. I go over each and every section verbally with them and encourage them to read every word. Here are some of the more important things I have included in my contract over the years:

1. Terms: Things like “photographer” shall refer to Pampered Birth, LLC dba Maternal Focus and “client” shall refer to the signers of this contract. This clarifies that they are contracting with my business, not me personally. Important for liability reasons. It also came in handy once when grandma gave the couple money to pay for me, and thought she would have copyright as a result. Um, no. They paid me directly, they signed the contract, they are the clients, and even they don’t get copyright!

2. Terms of service: Goes over my on-call times, how many hours (I do up to 10 or 15 for photography, depending on the package they choose), what I do and what I don’t do. Things like “The photographer will be reachable from 37 weeks until you have your baby. Should you go into labor earlier than that, the photographer will attend if available, but cannot guarantee availability.” I have two versions of this section of the contract, one that is for couples who hire me for doula + photography and one for just photography.

3. Stipulations: Stuff like “It may take up to two hours for the photographer to join you.” and “Fees are not refundable if you fail to notify the photographer when you are in labor.” I have it in my contract that if I am not able to come, I have to option to send a backup photographer to fulfill the contract. A clause stating that I will photograph anywhere I am allowed to be, and that if I can’t go into the OR in the event of a cesarean, I will shoot as much as I can. There’s also a clause saying how much they’ll get back if I don’t show up or am unable to deliver any images. (It very carefully does NOT say anything about “acceptable” images or about any specific number of images!) There’s also something in there about not automatically refunding for cesarean births, expected or unexpected.

4. Copyrights: Your standard copyright stuff. Also language about the licensing that does come with the disk they get – and that they are NOT allowed to edit the images.

5. Prices and fees: How much I charge, when it is due, and what’s included in that package. I have my pricing as a “Schedule A” attached to to the contract, so I can change that easily. They have to sign that, too.

6. Model Release: My model release is attached to my contract, but not a part of my contract. Full price clients are not required to sign it, though I encourage them to do it. Clients who are receiving any kind of a discount are required to sign it as a provision of the discount.

7. Social Media Release: Clients can initial this option and I will post ONE image of the baby to my Facebook page within 48 hours of the birth. Clients can then share this image to their own pages. Clients who do not want it, don’t have to do it.

I STRONGLY recommend a contract for every. single. birth. you shoot. Even free ones. Even for friends. It protects both of you!

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