Contracts, ASMP, and Caroll Michels

In the ideal world, there would be no war, everyone would have food to eat, and we would never need contracts.  Although I have a few amazing lawyers who have offered to help me whenever the time may come, I try not to bother them with a contract for a new client or selling arrangement. Let’s face it, if we are doing what we are suppose to we should be constantly writing and sending out contracts. I realize that it is a time consuming task. However, if you need help writing an artist to gallery contract, here are a few of the resources I used which may be helpful to you as well. #1. Anyone interested in being an artist really needs to read Caroll Michels book, How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist, Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul. It’s amazing how glamorous being an artist, a photographer, a singer sounds before you get into what being an independent business owner entails!

#2. Photographers, you need to join www.asmp.com -if you’re not a member yet; you really aren’t doing what you should be. The American Society of Media Photographers is “A trade association which protects and promotes the interests of photographers whose work is for publication”. The resources here are valuable to photographers of all walks of life, not just publication/editorial photographers. Every intern I have, and photographer friend I make I encourage joining. The membership isn’t that much to start and being a member offers you discounts at places like B&H, Livebooks, and more. On the website, photographers post sample estimates, another section has bad contract examples that teach you what words to stay away from! But really, this is the most helpful group I’ve joined. Experts travel around the country giving lectures on the business; the site has a seemly infinite amount of resources!

#3. Use the web wisely! I searched the better part of a day to find and read contracts that were posted on the web to help artist not get screwed. A few that I liked are, http://www.enchantedcreek.com/Art/Contracts/artist-gallery.html -this sample contract is for an artist and gallery consignment agreement. I used this contract, along with http://www.docstoc.com/docs/21100400/ArtistGallery-Consignment-Agreement and www.clackamasartsalliance.org to get what I needed.

For my needs, none of the 3 contracts did the trick just right. So I created a hybrid of the 3, added and changed what I needed to customize it to fit my selling relationship. I suspect most galleries have a contract ready to go. But being ready to help your client who may not have one, but wants to sell your work is always a good idea. Remember, in the world of freelance photography, it’s about giving your clients what they are asking for and keeping their lives as easy as possible while doing it but if it’s not in writing you’ve got no guarantee. It’s not fair to ask your clients just to trust you, a contract gives them piece of mind as much as it give you piece of.