I have waited over a year to edit this particular blog post because I needed to know exactly what to say about contracts.Every photographer has heard of them. If you haven’t, you’ve lived under a rock.
A while back I was contacted by the team over at Christmas Abbott’s camp to photograph her for a magazine. Being a pretty new photographer, I jumped at the opportunity because Abbott was one of my favorite athletes and I had worked with her before. It was pretty rushed so I didn’t get all the proper details and most importantly, a contract signed.
The shoot went great and off I went to edit and post. I was also trying to get a contract signed. The other side said they would provide me with a contract. With me being new, I thought this was normal. I had a contract but it was one of those generic ones that you find on the Internet. A month passes and still no contract. By this time, I had already sent the images to the team. They demanded me to give the images over due to a deadline they were trying to meet. I didn’t question it.
Two months later my social media accounts blew up and I thought, I’ve made it! I just thought Google finally loved me. Actually, my images of Abbott made it to the Yahoo Sports page. Thankfully proper credit was given….this time. Every week after, I found more and more of my images all over sites such as HBO, Sporting News, Cosmopolitan, and months later, CBS. That was great except, I wasn’t given credit. At this time, contractageddon had worsen.
There are many other issues that arose. Eventually, I hired a lawyer and learned a lot. It is always the photographers job to provide a contract, despite what company x is telling you. If you have to work together, do so but in the end, they are your photos. There are times where you will be signing away the rights to those images but that’s another topic of discussion.
It took over a year to get the contract signed, I can’t say that it hurt my business too much. I was a nobody and am still a nobody in the photography world. The S word did come into play but in the end, no one would have liked the outcome.
In the end, one of my images did make it to publication in a MuscleMag publication named Reps. You can see that image and article here. Sadly the MuscleMag went bankrupt and I wasn’t able to get a copy of that page.
I also have shot Christmas in one of her NASCAR practices. You can see that blog here.
It was cool to have several images from this shoot show up in various news articles, print publications, and seen on television. I just wish I knew then what I know now.
Get those contracts made by a lawyer according to your state laws and use them on every session.