Contracts and Electronic Signatures


Legal Survival Guide


Lesson Info

Contracts and Electronic Signatures

If we're going to do some business if it involves more money then you can afford to light on fire we've got tow have a contract now listen I am serious if you're going to do business with somebody and the amount of money at issue is more than you can literally put on the ground and afford to put a match to you've got to have a contract whether it's an invoice or a written contract you've got to have a riding signed by the person that you want to collect against why is that it's going to establish our contractual relationship with our client and it all starts with the booking appointment okay so are you married do you want to be married some day if you wanted to be married so you pick up that microphone my dear pick it up we'll pick on you if you wanted to be married you would want me to shoot your wedding wouldn't you absolutely because we're friends and I'm gonna pick on you a little bit when we get uh here towards the next slide to see what you want so I want you to start to think ab...

out what you want from your wedding photographer think about it I'm alerting you or you will feel alerted when zoe comes to see me I'm going to sell to her with my right brain I'm going to tell her jim's creative vision remember jim's creative vision for her day oh my goodness I can see it right now this guy's you're gonna be blue you're gonna come down the aisle it's gonna be on a purple aisle runner it's gonna be fantastic your dress it's gonna be we're gonna have lots of tool and beads and I will be standing here and then we fifteen photographers all around you with our shutter set on silent and we're just going to be great so we're selling to her with our right bring being very creative and we're going to be thinking with our left brain about setting her expectations so our contract is going to mirror what we're going to do what's my work flow what's my style and what's my personality all of those things including the deadlines that I'm going to set for myself are going to go into the contract and that's super important to understand because the way that I do things it might be different than holly does something it might be different than how bob does something and if bob has some expectations of his client where do you think bob auto put those expectations in the contract right because then we can go back to the contract and say I'm sorry you know betty bride I didn't say I do that because in the contract I told you I deliver my proofs within thirty days after the gig not five days after the gig and so we put that in the contract and again it has a little bit of our personality in it. The contract of course is gonna get written before the booking it's going to get written before the booking and on the next slide you'll see maybe that the uh the the contract is written before the booking is going to lay the groundwork for everything that's gonna happen between me and my client okay it's going to say how much he owes what she's gonna get when I'm going to show up when we're gonna have a meeting etcetera so let's see what the client wants real world zoe are you ready? Uh come on up here, darling. Come on, bring your microphone and craig the guys in the booth are working on the clicker do what we can so no problem keep you posted this will take a few minutes. Come on. Welcome to blue steel photography. How are you going to take your life? Thank you. Wind your day about a year from now, a year from now where you get married at uh we're getting married in one of the national parks phantom national park are there any permits required? Yes, there is a permit required. Ok. All right, my contract that's fine. Well, we can get that permit for commercial photography because I don't know if you know this or not, but when you shoot in a national park if a tripod is present, they called a commercial photography and we have to get a special use permit. But I've done that a lot, and I know exactly what to do. You'll, uh we'll just put that small, permanent charge in the contract. Sound okay? Sure. All right. Well, tell me a little bit about what you want. Your photography. So it's, this kind of real world tell me what you what? What you looking for? Looking for a couple of interesting angles, but mostly just a few decent shots of me and my person and marrying looking happy together because they don't want expectations. We've gotta cover. I'm pretty simple. I don't really need a lot. All right. Um, in wendy wants approves back, um, fifteen to thirty days. Do you want to make you want a disk with the images on them, or do you just want prince? I would like a disc. Er and what do you want to do with that disk? You want to put it up on a billboard? You just want to use it yourself. Do you want to share it with your relatives and friends? I personally use in share with friends. Probably. Okay, you're just gonna share that on the internet are gonna actually make actual prince. Uh internet mostly all right sounds good and then as faras payment do you want to pay all upfront or do you want to spread that out over time? Will you be paying by credit card, etcetera? Um oh be paying cash. Um I would like to put down the deposit is usually fifty percent don't know it all it's just five hundred dollars now you're gonna have your fiance what's his first name evan evan evan are you watching? Uh I'm gonna have evan signed the contract that you'll get in the mail tomorrow are you actually I'll email it to you if you and he could both sign that just right away and return that I'll go ahead and take your deposit today. Ah, cindy and and voice that will have all of the charges on it. And if you have any questions, just let me know. Okay? Sounds good. Look forward to working with you. Thanks for coming to blue steel photography loved that face. Fantastic. So we've just had an appointment with a client. We're doing some business. So now we know what the client wants and we're gonna dive into the next slide and I'm going to give her a contract, okay? And I have an actual copy of the contract we're going to look at but in that contract it's going to tell her what I want right it's also going to say in the contract what she wants she wants me to go to the national park she's agreed to pay the permit free and we didn't rehearse this she you came up with the national park thing that was a tough one there's a curveball but blue steel photography we know how that works you actually have to have apartment and and sometimes it's two or three hundred dollars but she's agreed to pay for it she wants simple stuff a couple of different angle she wants a disk personal use maybe share it with her family and friends internet on ly no print okay you with me that's what she wants well in the contract I'm going to tell her if you don't pay me I'm not gonna work is there anybody that wants to work if you don't get paid there's a lot of photographers that are willing to do the work and hope they get paid afterwards now granted you have the images and you're not gonna give them to him but what if they decide they don't want it? Some brides and grooms will actually divorce before you have your proofs done true story some brides and grooms will divorce before you deliver the album true story if they're going to divorce you hope they divorce before you design the album because you get to keep the money and you don't have to deliver the product right that's just so heartless but don't get in trouble uh can I get an album? Is that in the contractor extra did you want an album it's included with all of our packages except the entry level package so we didn't pick the package. Which package do you want? Small medium or large what's in the packages in an album seven hours of coverage uh the mileage is included you get a two hundred fifty dollars print credit to photographers a disc with the images on it for personal use um in a bridal orin engagement session your choice all right, so he's in we've got her she's she's she's on board I'm not going to give you your album if you owe me money if you miss a payment I'm gonna quit if you get divorced or postpone your wedding I'm gonna keep your money if you cancel your wedding and still owe me a balance you gotta pay me you're gonna involve me and scheduling your day because I don't like surprises who likes surprises? Not me we're going to meet thirty days before to go over things I'd like to know your family names and your wedding party names so I can call people by name it makes me look professional and then you'll know want come have their wedding with me um this is my favorite just because we've talked about it I don't have to do it if it's not in the contract it's not part of our deal, we're not going to modify the contract orally only in riding I may not get all the images you want and that's okay tons of photographers that do the shot lists lord love you no shot lists were not going to do shot lis because a shot list is a list of some of the shots that I'm going to forget to do right don't do a shot list don't create evidence to be used against you if you're more than fifteen minutes late, I'm on the hook I'm not on the hook my longest late running wedding this for our side a bride start four hours late cause she had her hair done four times, but then she wanted me to deliver everything and by gum I delivered about is good of a weddings I've ever delivered and she was a little bit out of shape because we don't get one shot of her some relative um and you know I went to the contract and said, look, you were four hours late in the contract provides I don't have any liability. If you're more than fifteen minutes late, much less four hours after the wedding, I'll get you your proof within thirty days after I send you the proofs you'll pick your album faves and twenty days if you don't pick your album faves you start to lose ten percent your print credit whoever thought of that you start to get penalized for not holding up your end of the deal I've had never had anybody I've had brides wait a year to send their album images in and then they say I want some more prints I'm sorry you lost your print credit because you're a year late picking your album okay, they always understand if you order add ons I'm gonna charge you for it uh what else? Oh, if I get sick I'm a substitute a competent photographer if I have to this is a big deal that people overlook one of my good friends preston uh, great photographer preston came down with a brain tumor and needed me to substitute for some of his wedding and he didn't have a super rock solid substitution provisions um and it was a little bit of an issue, but his illness was so significant that nobody gave him a hard time. But you know, something could come up where you might need to substitute and so I've got a rock solid substitution provisions talk about me owning the capri a copyright and you getting a limited license love this one just because I give you a limited licence doesn't mean you can give your dvd to your mama and your friends if you want to do that I'm gonna charge you extra if you use the picture I oh uh model releases included in there if you hire a videographer I can push him off the stage I apologized to my video friends that are watching if you hire a videographer will work together but I'm the boss if I pose it nobody else should be taking pictures I generally don't care if other people take pictures of the wedding this is a big battle that's being fought in the industry right now people griping about other people taking pictures as long as they're not standing in front of me I don't care I'm getting paid if they want to shoot let him shoot I was trying to take pictures of them stayed in front of me if they are standing in front of me so I can show the bride I didn't get that shot because your uncle with his rebel was standing in front of me like wise on this videographer one true story uh dr getting married korean wedding if you've never done a korean wedding you need to do in their fantastic they're getting married on stage christian charge and the videographer wearing his big wedding beautiful wedding high dollar wedding could you imagine it? Can you envision it? Can you see it gorgeous dress gorgeous girl standing on the stage the videographer in his flip flops with his sunglasses on his head with his rig miss blue rock they're here with me ah ah it's really happening now I'm in the back long lands trying to get my shots who's in every single shot this cotton picking videographer I can't go up there and throw him off the stage s o the only thing I could do is continue to shoot and show her the challenge is that I was having so I tried to get some angles that he wasn't in it but he's still there for the whole ceremony so again in my contract I govern that I don't go I go over there um missouri law will govern any disputes you have to sue me and my home county in the home state which is green county missouri time's important um blah blah blah who wouldn't want to have all that in their contract? I also have in my longform contract after you register the disc I send you the one that says you have to feed me the same food that everybody at the wedding reception is eating now why is that important? My east coast photographers will confirm that it's a different culture once you get east of the mississippi river sometimes and they tend to send the photographers to the kitchen at the hall uh to eat cold pizza or whatever else they decide to put out for him and we work hard and we burn a lot of calories doing what we do and there's nothing little killer creative vibe faster then being sent to the back to eat with the help. Um and so I put it in there and I let him know what the expectations are that me and my staff will uh, you know, get to sit down for thirty minutes because they don't like it. I mean, I could never found a bride it wanted to let me leave for forty five minutes to run a mcdonald's to grab something to eat. They like it when you stick around. All right? We're going to include everything in the contract, every amount that there going oh, you know how many shooters there are when the payments or do whether you got the deposit or not, I spell out all the descriptive out you're getting a graph e book it's gonna have forty pages it's going to be printed on photo paper. You're going to get a metal cover it's going to come in a white box it's gonna have to uh six by eight parent albums printed on smooth paper with a laminated cover. So when they get that, is there any question as to what they were supposed to get? What happens when I forgot what we talked about in the booking appointment about what cover they were gonna pay for it? I don't put it in the contract I may forget because remember, am I organized I'm using the contract to help me stay organized because I'm writing it down right away so I put everything in there air on the side of too much detail uh you mentioned it when so he was up there and it's written there the difference between a deposit and a retainer um I always use a deposit I always use a deposit why do I always use a deposit? It is a non refundable deposit meaning once you book me in the date is yours I keep it no matter what you will never get it back for me you will pry it from my cold dead hands unless I decide to give it back to you to avoid a better business bureau complaint or something like that but I let them know this is your deposit and I'm giving you this date I'm not letting anybody else take this day for me I'm giving it to you and I get to keep that deposit in in exchange for that um in addition as they pay me along the way that also becomes non refundable there is some state laws that very on the refund ability of uh that but I put in here I get to keep it and if there were a state law that conflicted with it I always tell people when they used this contract you don't go hire a lawyer to draft you a brand new contract you say hey lawyer I want to retain you so that if I havent issue come up um you only answer the phone so I say jim comes too see me hey, craig I heard you were an I p attorney you knew something about photography? I'm new to town. I'd like to retain you in case I have something come up in the future and here I am I'm jim this is my business jim and I visit for half hour and jim leaves me a check for three hundred bucks I put in my trust account I don't use it just sits there then when jim has his first problem jim calls me up you know what? I answer the phone because I know jim and I'm jim's lawyer he's not cold calling me off the street he's my guy I'm his guy were symbolical you know we're moving forward and jim says, hey, I got this form contract I'd like to use and I'm in washington state and I'd love to use this contract could you review this for me, craig and see if this is perfect for me yeah, sure he e mails it to the lawyer the lawyer looks at it blesses it or changes there where he does and he sends it back to jim and now jim knows he only paid that lawyer to review a contract not to spend two hours writing a contract makes sense so it's save gemma tana money um and now jim's got a contract that is super good to go in his state because he's got this new relationship with his new lawyer craig what happens if your lawyer makes a mistake? Do you have a contract a retainer contract with them that there's have malpractice insurance? So if I give jim bad advice I've got insurance to cover that just like every photographer should have heirs no missions insurance if he if the alarm doesn't go off and you miss a wedding I mean, that happens every year so I send the same contract that's uh uh up on the screen I've got it up here right now. Let's take a look at the couple of provisions in here okay, so check it out on the copyright section the studio is the photographer hired to photograph the wedding. The studio owns the copyright if a devious provided you get a copyright authorization to make limited reproductions for personal use only and you can't give it to third parties if there's any copyright violations they're charged at fifteen times the publish rate is liquidated damages and they acknowledge that it's subject to the copyright laws and prosecution so that's how I deal with the licence to my images so yes, the clients all walk away with the disc and we're going to dive into an extended copyright discussion in a minute but they're only getting a licence to to use it for limited purposes and for but I could limit the time I could say that the license is only good for twenty five years I could say it's only good in missouri I could say you can only reproduce it if you're wearing a purple shirt you can limit their ability to reproduce it in any way that you can think of I can say you can only do print or only elektronik etcetera and so forth now I also do ah nice bit I mean, I probably average five or six hundred bucks a gig in print sales on picked taj after my events and I put in the paragraph the picked taj link and the fact that guests and family are supposed to order off pick taj and not be provided with copies of the images off the disc and that's why I tell my clients that's how we keep our prices low yeah. How do you find out if someone's been misusing it it's like, is there a way to find out or is it a sure man you could you can do ten ii love ten I take one your pictures and upload it searches around on the internet like a little box and it finds uses of your image. Yeah, it's fun tonight. How do you spell that t I n e y perfect and there's google images will also find I think you can also now upload your images on google images and I think it will search for your images using google images of well, I'm not positive about that if somebody online knows the answer to that question, would you tell me, oh, also, if somebody on the internet knows there's two other photo searching services in addition to ten I you could go to the photo steelers website and I think they've got some of them there, but if somebody wants to chime in with those other ones, you can let us know what those are. I apologize. I didn't have a slide for those. All right, let's, get back into the presentation. This is my air tight wedding contract. I've got a light version or the long version so some people freak out if there's something to sign that's more than one page, so I've convinced it so it's all on one page, so you have no excuses for getting a contract sign every time. Here we go, let's get it signed quickly because until they sign it there shopping, we want them to hire us, not someone else's once it's signed, I'm not going to change their mind, they're not gonna back out, we're going to get the deposit and put it in our which account business account do not put it in your personal account do not make your car payment with it until after it's run through your business account right calendar the wedding day says your lawyer calendar the wedding date and listen I believe in being honest with y'all I put this in there to remind me of this you see this notify your shoot second shooter of the date I have been more than more times than I should remember you know, three weeks before the wedding hey colton can you shoot this gig with me in three weeks now craig I'm busy I'm shooting out of town hey oh and can you shoot this gig with me in three weeks now craig I'm sorry I gotta do something else hey christine can you see this gig with me know I got a wedding of my own hey bob can you shoot this gig with me know I don't like you anymore hey, you know and and I end up getting new and unusual second shooters and I'm kind of hoping for the best now zoe hope it's not a strategy so if I would have followed my own advice and notified my second shooter in the date six months out now I know who's shooting my gig I know what to look forward to. All right ah quick note about elektronik signatures there's a ton of slides on this I went a little bit overboard everybody says signing online, signing online? Well, yes and no, the elektronik signatures in global and national commerce act and people, people apparently in the federal government. They like these acronyms c a e s g in that he sign the eastside act. It says a state can't refuse to recognize an electronic signature just because it's elektronik but it doesn't say a state has to recognize and electronic signature says they can't refuse to recognize it because it's elektronik, but don't say they have to now ah lot of states have also adopted their own state east sign requirements, but the federal eastside requirement requires that the it has a consumer consent provision and you have to get consent to do business electronically before getting the electronic signature, and it has to apply to business that affects interstate commerce. So if you're just doing a local wedding in missouri, that generally doesn't affect interstate commerce, so the federal east sign requirements really don't apply to that contract. Now missouri has its own, but I'm just saying, if you're doing elektronik signatures and you're trusting that it's valid in all states the way that you're doing it that's not necessarily without asking some more questions, I can't give complete blessing upon that because he sign says, um, there's certain record retention requirements um well that's, not the right one here here's an example supposed photographer and client be exchange a contract that's executed by typing and east signature in the document the east side doesn't prohibit enforcement done require it without assurances off this is required by the east sign act attribution, which is some kind of electronic proof certificate that it was actually signed by client be some kind of non repudiation code in the text that they can't change it certain data, integrity and reliability things it's unlikely to withstand legal challenge so you have to make sure that there's the's other elements of the east sign actor satisfied if you're doing it electronically now there are there are some programs that say that they have all those security bells and whistles built in but you need to at least be aware that just because something signed electronically if these other underlying things aren't mad, it might not be enforceable quick question craig so I use a program called simply studio and I send elektronik signatures so how do you who would you go to to have them filter whether those things are satisfied within the program? Would it be someone like you? Well then be tough because some of the code computer things that are built into there I wouldn't even know how to understand this this e signed stuff it's kind of cutting edge right now that he signed act has been around for a while but it's really grown in popularity in the last three or four years and again it only applies to transactions affecting interstate commerce it's a huge loophole so if it's a contract just within your state about something that you're going to do with in your state and you don't have to go out of your state to do it it might not affect interstate commerce so then we'd have to ask the question does your state law cover what you're doing at least a question to ask your lawyer it's kind of like one of those jet I mind tricks I'd like you to look into the eastside requirements s so is there I mean not this away too like circumvent these I mean could you just pretty much send a hardcopy contract too and look the way I do it works for me I've got a form on outlook or whatever your email program is and after we book I go down to my office I type up the contract I've gotta form email I put her in voice in it I see winnetou or I say sign this and fax or email it back to me and every one of my brides or mail it within a week sends it back to me you know what he says no it's like sales tax I mean there's this whole model released thing with what may I get an e model released I'm gonna have somebody sign their name on here with their finger on my ipad you know if that works for you great but there are certain agencies that won't taken elektronik model release if you're going to submit work for publication they want something that signed by somebody so myron model release that's on here I like to print it out I fold it in half and throw it my camera bag and if I take a great shot at a wedding of uncle tony or whatever I have uncle tony side the model release right then and there because in my contract guys and we'll talk about this a little bit more later if my bride and groom have signed the contract which includes a model release did uncle tony signed the wedding contract? No. And if uncle tony's got the tear running down his face you know with uh you know, holding the baby in his arms and and it's a great picture that I want to submit for competition can I use that without uncle tony's model release no well, I was at the wedding and the bridegroom signed it. Yes, but uncle tony didn't sign it so that's a huge point uh boudoir work custom forms for custom work and I include a boudoir contract boudoir is in my estimation ah potential hotbed for future litigation fifty percent of all marriages end in what fifty hama percentage for just relationships beyond that where marriage is not involved in end and a break up is much higher than that so the odds are that whoever's getting the little black book or little red book with a little bow around it that I've just charged a thousand dollars for they're gonna break up or they're gonna get divorced now when he's got that book there's this this these nasty people we are doing this revenge posting where they take the private pictures of the person they know hate and they post him all over the internet right? Well that clown doesn't have any money he's going to get sued the photographer um and then if the photographer accidentally misuses the image they're sure to get sued so I have a boot to our contract that when I do have situations I don't do this very much at all when I do have this come up I use a specific contract for it the recently who was a lawsuit filed over the publication of a boudoir photo it was reported in the land orlandosentinel where husband, wife sudha photographer because the photographer eight years after she took it used it in uh ah studio how to book how you know boudoir photography she used the image in a book she claims she had a model release the couple said it was meant to be private now you got a lawsuit and you're in the newspaper this is not good for business. This does not help your brand. So use the boudoir photography agreement and you won't have trouble. Um, ex slide, uh, the event contract again, if you're going out to cover a gig, we shot five thousand insurance agents at the hartford convention down in houston, and we had them sign this it's important because during the event, um, they somebody, when your work doing an event, you're just a photographer, and you get somebody that comes up and says, oh, craig, thanks for shoot these five thousand people today we need a video for tonight's presentation of all of the five thousand people that you shot set to music. Can you do that for us? Well, it's not in the contract. No, really. We need you to do it. Well, here's, the contract actually pulled it out of the bag. It's not in the contract says any additional work has to be authorized in riding. We flipped it over, wrote it down. How much it was gonna cost, went back to the hotel room, took all of the light room, exported them, uploaded it to an emoto, put it to some lights, rights, manage music, printed it out, they loved me, I mean, another thousand bucks, okay, piece of cake. But the event contract says I'm not going to do anything other than what's in this agreement and if you're doing a big event somebody will come to you and ask you to do it so you pull it out, flip it over and write it on the contract and have him re sign it that they agree to pay for it. That's critical. All right, who's heard of groom zilla todd j remus that is not my words. I am not defaming him. I am merely repeating what's been published on the huffington post, todd married his love in manhattan and they hired agent h photographers out of new york they've just been taken over by his son. His father had been a lifelong photographer, survived the nazi concentration camps, built a successful business and justus he turned it over to a son to retire. They contract it to photograph todd ramos and his bride's manhattan wedding and the photographer did a great job left about fifteen minutes before the last dance and bouquet toss as I would have done because I only cover seven hours and todd felt bad that they missed that shot and after he divorced his wife he sued the photographer to have the photographer come back and either give him forty two give him forty eight thousand dollars to recreate the wedding with his now divorced wife who hates him allegedly, I'm editorializing a little bit. She did not care enough to stay married to him, um, and sudan for forty eight grand. So h and h, they didn't have insurance. And I mean, they spend like fifty thousand bucks on attorney's trying to kill this lawsuit because these guys were in a spitting match, um, over whether they should have left earlier, not, and if they would have been using my contract h and age, this never would have happened because it says, if you sue me and I win, you pay my attorney's fees. I like that. So it makes people stop and do a gut check before they decide to run off to the courthouse to do this kind of nonsense. But he actually sued him in one of the most ridiculous cases of I've ever heard asking for forty eight grand and in his deposition, I think said that he wanted to use that money because that's what it was going to cost to recreate the last fifteen minutes of the wedding with his now divorced wife.

Class Description

Ready to turn your creative side project into a thriving business? Join Craig Heidemann for an introduction to the business and accounting principles every creative professional needs to know. 

In this class, Craig will take you step-by-step through the process of setting up, running, and growing a small business. You’ll learn how to use QuickBooks to manage your finances, including managing client contracts and invoices. Craig will also help you navigate the potentially-confusing tax, legal, and copyright issues surrounding small businesses. You’ll also learn how to contract and/or hire people to do the tasks you can’t do yourself. 

Whether you’re just starting out as a business owner or you’re a longtime entrepreneur ready for a refresher course, this course will give you a roadmap to business success.


a Creativelive Student

I'm literally fresh off the boat, as the saying goes, having moved back to the US after decades of living abroad. I have the photography down (in some measure due to the instructors and courses here at CL), but being new to the business of photography in this environment I was rudderless. This course helped answer all my initial questions and put me on the way to getting established in my region... and beyond! Craig makes legal issues almost fun with his jocular, engaging style. Thanks so much to Chase and the people at CL for knowing what courses real working photographers need.

Andrew V Gonzales

This class is amazing (as is the Instructor). Funny, real, and to the point, Craig has a great way of making these aspects of business MUCH less intimidating. Still very applicable even in 2016. Loved it!