Photographers need a license

The six most important tips for photographer contracts

A good personal relationship is also part of working well with a photographer. Recordings should convey emotionality - for this reason alone, the chemistry between client and contractor has to be right. However, a good relationship should not prevent anyone from making agreements and keeping them in writing. Otherwise it is often unclear who later has the rights to the pictures. And it is not uncommon for both parties to assume very different framework conditions. In order to avoid disputes and unexpected costs, we advise you to take out photographer contracts in which you agree on the legal situation. This is not about them Originatorright. According to German law, these are automatically and almost indissolubly with the producer. As the author, however, the photographer can choose between different ones Usagecede rights. You can read six things here as a client:1


  1. The use determines the form of the contract

For what occasion are you booking the photographer? What do you want to use the images for? Even if you only need the images for documentation for the archive, you must clarify the scope of their use in advance. Depending on the intended use, there are two different approaches to drafting contracts:

Press photography

For example, you want to have a sponsorship event of your company photographed to support public reporting. Then the best thing to do is to contact a local press photographer who has good connections with daily newspapers and press portals. Agree with him on the guaranteed purchase of a certain amount of images for your own use. The right to secondary use of the image material remains with the photographer. Advantage: With the classic Copyright Agreement you have an up-to-date picture of your event for your public relations at a manageable cost. But beware! With every further use, usage costs are incurred. Disadvantage? These are the costs just mentioned for each use. In addition, you have no control over the further use of the recordings and no right to archive the images. If you agree to these framework conditions, you don't even need to draw up a written contract.

Corporate photography

For example, you want to have some employees and the new processing equipment photographed in action for the next annual report. For this you will find a photographer who you book directly for this one job. Before discussing the motifs and dates with the photographer, consider whether you will later only need the rights to use the photos on a case-by-case basis or whether you want to have access to the photos all the time. In both cases you have to sign contracts - but different ones.

If, as in the first case, you want to acquire the simple or limited rights of use for the photo production, the contract must contain the desired form of use and information on the temporal and spatial use. For example: for the current annual report to be published once within a year. Or: for unlimited internal use and for distribution worldwide at all subsidiaries. You close one in this case Fee contract with an artist. He remains the owner of the photographic works, even if only you, your employees or your equipment can be seen in the photographs. The decision on further use remains with the person who created the photo - at least as far as your personal rights are not affected.

If you want to use one or more motifs from the photo production exclusively, unlimited in time and space, you can send the photographer an offer for one Buyout ("Sell out"). As a rule, an additional daily fee is charged for the buyout. The photographer remains the author of the photo recording, but grants you unrestricted usage rights.

If you intend to use almost all of the recordings that you have made for an unlimited period of time in various contexts, you should do one right away Work contract close with the photographer. However, you must have a precise idea of ​​the future shots so that the photographer receives clear specifications from you and can carry out his job like a craftsman. He then remains the author of his recordings, but you have the exclusive rights of use, as stated in the contract for work.


  1. Avoid surprise costs

Hiring a press photographer under a copyright contract may be the most cost-effective solution. But then you should clarify beforehand the amount to which the second and third use must be paid for. As a rule, it is 50 percent of the first-time use fee. Also calculate that with every fee payment, a contribution to the artist's social security fund of 4.2 percent will be due again.2

In the case of photo productions within the framework of a fee contract, you must expect additional costs for preparation, follow-up, image processing and provision. If the photographer does not ask for lump sums for this, the costs are usually based on his daily rates. For a one-day photo production, three daily rates can quickly arise. Here, too, the KSK contribution of 4.2 percent has to be paid on the total fee. However, artists charge the reduced sales tax rate of 7 percent.

In the case of contracts for work and services, the costs are based on the contractual specifications. As a rule, the 4.2 percent KSK does not apply because the photographer is then not viewed as an artist, but as a craftsman. But instead of 7, the full sales tax rate of 19 percent applies.


  1. Request permits by contract

A photo is worthless if the legal side is not clarified. And a subsequent clarification is not only tedious, but sometimes also impossible. You should therefore contractually stipulate that the photographer has to obtain and transmit all necessary recording permits. Because people, whether private, individually, in groups or professional models, have the right to their own portrait. This means that the people depicted determine for themselves how, when, where and for how long their pictures are shown. Even a person only shown from behind, who is not even the main part of the motif, can bring a lawsuit against you if you publish the picture without permission. The following principle applies: if the person could be recognized by a friend, a declaration of consent is required for publication. A written approval is also required if someone else's owner is being photographed on the property. The amount of this Location fee ranges from the free permit to several thousand euros a day.


  1. Sales contracts? No thanks!

Many companies have their own legal departments. They draw up the contracts for the purchase of services and products. But the conditions for the purchase of new office chairs or for the commissioning of winter service cannot be compared with those that have to be thought through and determined when commissioning a photographer. As a rule, passages about usage rights, scope of use and secondary use do not even appear in such standard contracts. Our tip: get advice from experts.


  1. Define the author's rights of use

Even after the contract has been fulfilled, you should be sure what the author is allowed to do with the recording. The often unregulated use of your images on the photographer's website or in customer acquisition can run counter to your interests. Perhaps your subjects aren't strictly classified, but you just don't want the images to be shown in any other context. Request the right to have a say in writing. So you need to be informed in advance and asked for permission. If you then reject a publication, the author of the work cannot do anything either.


  1. Document usage rights digitally

It's actually quite logical: photos whose rights have not been clarified are worthless for companies. Photos whose rights have been clarified but not documented with the picture are just as worthless. Anyone who regards their photos as digital assets therefore manages them in a digital asset management system. This allows you to keep track of things and prevent loss of information and time-consuming image searches. In the well-maintained DAM system, you always have all the important information right in front of you with one click.



1. This blog post is for general information, not for advice on individual legal issues. The author is not a lawyer. A guarantee for the correctness and completeness of the information cannot be given

2. The KSK contribution is the social security contribution for artists (health and pension insurance). The client's lump-sum "employer's share" is currently 4.2 percent of the fee paid

Photographer, media professional, managing director of MAGmove. His life revolves around photography. That brought him into contact with all large and small questions about the production, administration, distribution and publication of photographs. With an expert intuition and his practical knowledge, he also provides well-founded information on all theoretical questions.