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Second Shooter Contract

2nd-shooter-ig.jpg I can't stress enough how important contracts are in photography, the Model Release, the client proposal, and today, I talk about the 2nd Shooter Contract.

Here is the story of what happen to me:

I was to cover an event, and I usually shoot with two cameras, one with a 24-105mm lens, the other with a 70-200mm lens, hanging from my sides.

I was to shoot some video at this event, so I had to use one of my bodies for my camera rig, this left me unsure how to capture shots from around the event if I am manning the video rig most of the time.

Well, a second shooter assistant would work for this. So I called a friend, someone who is learning photography and had helped me shoot second camera at a previous fashion show many months earlier.

He agreed to come with and shoot, he arrives at my place, we drive to the event, we get there, we scope out the area, make our lens selection (which I provided) and he shot his camera body and his cards, I provided extra if needed. I specified the settings I wanted used, etc... And we were off shooting.....

iamqeenjaz-ig1.PNG When the even was over, we drive back, I then copy all the photos from his memory card to my PC, and I tell him if he wishes, he can use the images he shot on his portfolio, but he can't publish them. I get an ok, and a nod.
A couple days later, I get a phone call, he is telling me he is talking to a few people and they are interested in having him shoot some events, and he is wondering how much to charge, I tell him that's great and to get some details, that is what is the client expecting, and duration of the event, etc.. (I didn't hear back)

Couple more days go by, and I see some photos on instagram, from the event that we (BokehSharp, my company) covered.

I send a quick txt to my assistant, asking if he gave away any of the photos. He said he did, he contacted a few of the models and gave them photos.

Remember I mentioned that he called me saying some people wanted to hire him for a shoot. Turns out he contacted vendors/models from the event I was hired to shoot, and started representing him self.

The Dangers of this:

  • Poor quality retouches, potentially lowering the standards I strive for
  • Another person/company getting the credit?
  • Loss of revenue due to photos already being disseminated
  • Loss of credibility
  • Loss of clients and potential clients
  • The list goes on....

I have shot second camera for people, and when I do, that person/company owns all the photos, period!

When I am out assisting, I represent the company that I am assisting for. I hand out business cards etc, of the company I am assisting for.


iamqeenjaz-ig2.PNG So, by having a contract with your Second Shooter, you can avoid everything I just went through.

Here are the key items when having a Second Shooter:

  • Second Shooter represents you/your company
  • Second Shooter give you all photos/videos
  • Second Shooter can not publish any photo without your permission, includes portfolio

Now a lot of people disagree with the Second Shooter not being able to post or share as portfolio work. They think its the Second Shooters Rights.

Lets take a deep look at this:
If Sony Pictures hires you to shoot video of a new moview as the camera operator, does this entitle you to own any of it? No it does not! There is no difference if Sony hires you, or I hire you, the content does not belong to you, the Second Shooter, or the Camera Operator, period!

Here are the areas I cover, and you may need to cover in your contract with your second shooter:

  • Assignment - The assignment of duties
  • Independent Contractor - Lays out that this is not an employee, and is just an independent contractor
  • Delivery of Content - How and When you will get your deliverables
  • Copyright & Reproduction Rights - Detail how you own it, they don't, and what they can/can't do with it.
  • Exclusivity - Terms that they represent you during the shoot, and they cant solicit business
  • Confidentiality - Explains that information they learn is confidential, such as clients and processes
  • Equipment - Explain who is furnishing what, and who is responsible for what
  • Liability - Explain that contractor is liable for damage they may cause you. Equipment, selling off photos, etc.
  • Compensation - Clear layout of payment, overtime, etc. and when payment to be made

So next time you hire a Second Shooter, have your contracts ready and everything should go smoothly.

Mike Bradley

Author: Mike Bradley

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