Editing Contracts – 3 Important Clauses You Must Include

I'm Emily!

I'm a NC girl born & raised, a wife to my college sweetheart, mom to my sweet daughter Caroline & fur-mom to my floof, Riley. I love summer days at the beach, fall weekends in the mountains, & everyday in between exploring new corners of the world. I live for Italian food, tacos & margaritas. Currently taking life one adventure at a time.

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I’ve been running a thriving editing business for about seven and a half years now. Within that time there’s a LOT that I’ve learned. One of the things I learned quickly was that every editor NEEDS to have a contract. I can’t emphasize this enough – if you don’t have one, you absolutely need one TODAY. If that’s you, don’t freak out, I got ya covered.

If you’re like me all those years ago, you might be thinking, “What would possibly go into an editing contract? It seems so straightforward.” But trust me when I say that there are so many things that could go wrong that you probably aren’t even realizing. This is why we have a contract in place! It protects us from anything that could go wrong. If you haven’t seen my previous blog post about why contracts are so important, you can find that post here!

For general, affordable photo editing contracts, I highly recommend visiting The Legal Paige. She worked with one of my editing friends to put together a contract template specifically for photo editors. As for me, I had a custom contract created years ago. These photo editor templates have only become available in the last couple of years. When I first started this business, these templates weren’t available. Because of this, I had a chance to sit down with an attorney and talk about my business. They helped me to understand what I would need to be covered in a contract. I have to tell you, this opportunity really opened my eyes to how much could go wrong if I wasn’t protected by a good, legal contract. 

I’ve already written a post on why you should have a contract. However, today I wanted to talk about 3 of the best clauses that I had added to my contract. If you are wanting to buy a template that may not have these clauses, or if you are wanting to have a custom contract created with an attorney, I think that these clauses could really be helpful to you as you create your contract!

#1 The Submission Clause

This clause outlines specifically how catalogs will be submitted to the photo editor. It may be through Lightroom Previews, RAW files, JPEGS, etc. (this will depend on what you are looking to edit). It also outlines what program we use to transfer files back and forth. However, the most important part of this clause states that we, as the editors, are not responsible for the preservation of the original images or catalogs.

Because we work with Lightroom previews, our catalog is referred to as a copy and is treated as such. Imagine if the photographer’s hard drive were to crash. This clause states we are in no way responsible for the original images or catalogs that were stored there. This clause would be extra important if you edit directly from RAW or JPEG files instead of Smart Previews. Moreover, it’s just smart to have it no matter how you edit your client’s work.

#2 The No-Show Clause

This is one of my least favorite clauses, but it’s one of the most important ones I’ve had to add. A few years ago, I had to add a “No-Show” clause because I was having too many people “ghost” me after signing on for the year with me. When a photographer signs on with an editor, the editor is counting on that income. In addition, they are turning away other clients in their schedule in order to reserve that space for that photographer. If a photographer decides to go with another editor or decides not to outsource and they don’t tell the editor, that space can sometimes be held for an entire year without a single catalog being sent. 

Before you ask, yes, this has happened to me many times earlier in my business. It sounds crazy to me now, but I had no idea how to handle this when I didn’t hear back from people.

But we learn from our mistakes, which is why I added this clause in order to protect myself and my team from photographers that may do this. In this clause, we outline what happens if a client fails to communicate with us over a certain amount of time and allows us to terminate the contract if necessary. Since establishing this clause we have seen these instances decrease dramatically.

#3 The Post-Editing & Client Review Clause

This clause outlines how long the client has to let us know if a catalog needs changes, what they can request, how many times they’re allowed to request changes per image, and when an additional fee is added. Under this clause, we also detail how long we will maintain the edited catalog after all revision services are complete. This is incredibly important. If we don’t include how long we’ll maintain the edited catalogs, a client could come back a year later and expect you to still have a copy of the file. If it’s not outlined in your contract, you could be in real trouble.

Just like photographers tell clients how long they guarantee they’ll hold onto the pictures from a wedding, we need to tell clients how long we guarantee that we keep their catalog files backed up. For us, we have a maintenance period of about 15 days. After those 15 days are up, we are no longer responsible for maintaining a copy of the catalog on our servers.

hands on laptop writing up editing contracts

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that the information provided will be an asset to your small business. Remember, it takes time, patience, and humility to grow the business you envision. But I know with grit and dedication, you’ll achieve your dreams – you got this!

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