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Employee contract for 2nd photographers and assistants

Arthur Kim - Seattle, WA , Mar 28, 2006; 11:15 p.m.

Hi all!

I'm hiring a second photographer for an upcoming wedding and was hoping that one of you wonderful photographers would be as so kind as to share a copy of your employer to employee contract?

Thanks!! Art


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David Schilling - Chicago, Illinois , Mar 29, 2006; 12:08 a.m.

Don't have a contract but I thought that I'd share. I've worked for 5 different pro studios in the Chicagoland area over the past 14 years and never had a contract. I also don't do a contract with assistants/2nd shooters that work for my studio. I'm certainly not saying that it's a bad idea...just relating my experience here in the midwest.

Mona Chrome , Mar 29, 2006; 12:50 a.m.

Contracts with assistants aren't all that necessary, but you should have a contract with a 2nd shooter that specifies that all photos they take are done as a "work for hire" and that all rights to what they shoot are forever transferred to you, otherwise they may have a claim to what they shoot and or limit your use of the photos--this is regardless of wedding or otherwise.

Kari Douma - Grand Rapids, Michigan , Mar 29, 2006; 07:33 a.m.

When I was a second shooter, I had to sign a contract. It talked about dress code, showing up on time, use of images, and being ready to take over if the main photog couldn't for some reason. It talked about meals, milage if a distance wedding, ect.

Bill Clark - Minnetonka Minnesota , Mar 29, 2006; 08:31 a.m.

All of my assistants operate as "independant contractors." I wonder if you have them sign a contract if Uncle would interpret this as "employee" status? As an employee all sorts of new rules apply.

Mona Chrome , Mar 29, 2006; 10:31 a.m.

Bill, a contract will actually help you with uncle sam, altho it is not in and of itself of any proof that they are not employees, but one of several pieces of what you may need. Without a contract, they appear more under your authority, ee status, than operating under the terms of a contract they entered into, as a business owner, to which they are complying. But you should also have other documentation that helps determine their status as independent also--business cards, promos, signed statements that they work for others as independent contractors in similar situations etc--prove you had every reason to believe that they are independent.

Paul A. - Los Angeles, CA. , Mar 29, 2006; 10:55 a.m.

Let me ask you this simple question: When have you in your regular jobs ever been asked to sign a contract? Micheal Jordan does, Barry Bonds does, movies stars do. Why? Because it involves unique situations and alot of MONEY. Regular employers do not have contracts for rank and file because they don't want to have their hands tied if either one wants to call it quits.

If employee-employer contracts are important to you, I would suggest keeping it simple and jotting down the verbal agreement between you and have them sign it. Are going to sue them? Over what? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Bill Clark - Minnetonka Minnesota , Mar 29, 2006; 11:47 a.m.

I worked as an independent contractor for 30 plus years. What my contracts stated were compensation - straight commission - and territory. That basically was it.

Be careful when you write a contract. I'd suggest consulting with either or both an attorney - accountant. Too much can be put into a contract that will shove you into employee status at least as far as the IRS is concerned.

Here is one pub by the IRS:


If you write a contract make sure all your i's are dotted and your t's crossed or ....

Chris M., Central Florida, USA -- , Mar 29, 2006; 02:09 p.m.

Paul - unauthorized use of a registered copyrighted images carries mandatory fines in the $150K range per violation. These cases are not limited to commercial photographers. Lets say my second shooter lands a stellar shot and registers it with the US copyright office. I think the shot is available for my use since they were working for me, and I decide to use it in magazine advertising or as a wall display portrait for financial gain. A less than honorable second shooter might decide to sue me , I will lose, or at least be responsible for hefty legal fees to defend myself.

I'm not here to debate the ethics of using someone else's image to promote my business. Do yourselves a favor. If you intend to own copyright, your second shooter should sign a statement about restrictions on image use, and that they are work for hire and it's clearly understood you own the images they capture. I've been guilty of not making people I trust sign an agreement, but that will never happen again. It's now SOP.

I can give you a great example. I did some commercial work for a company where I photographed a world champion "athlete", and provided images of the companies products for use on their website and advertising materials. My agreement with them says they can't use the images for commerical use until I'm paid in full, and I have to be paid by a certain date. The images were sent to the US copyright office to be registered. They're now 60 days past their deadline date for payment, and I know for a fact the images are in use. They have until the end of Arpil to pay me. If they don't pay me - hmmmm.... 60 images in use in catalogs and on the web, I own the copyright, I haven't been compensated.... The stakes are kind of high if they can't pay me at some point.

Don't think for one moment some shark of a lawyer in the USA wouldn't pursue you for copyright violations and damages if they smell blood in the water. 99.9% of assistants out there wouldn't do that to you, but I've run into a few that really worried me.

Albert Postel , Aug 29, 2006; 06:44 p.m.

Hi All, anyone have a copy of the contract for 2nd photographer,, to see what it looks like? Thank you. apphoto@sbcglobal.net

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