This is intended to be for both photographers and their clients. I've met portrait photographers who don't use contracts. This is a bad move because in some states (not all states) a written contract is the only way for a court to determine if the photographer and client had reached an agreement about the goods and services provided. Contracts protect both the photographer and the client. Photographers should use them for business, and clients should only book photographers who use them.

A contract is a written agreement signed by both parties, which dictates what will be provided in the session and for how much money. Contracts are looked at in court if something happens, and contracts are legally binding.

What should be in the contract?
1) The photographer's contact information, and the client's contact information. This might include a mailing address, legal names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

2) The amount of money the photographer is expecting the client to pay, and by when. Some photographers require the funds to be paid in full before even taking the first picture. Some photographers require only a portion to be paid. Whatever the agreement is, make sure it is in the contract. This avoids the photographer having to chase down his money, and it avoids the client being surprised if the photographer refuses to take photos if the funds have not been paid as agreed. Does the photographer charge clients late fees? How much sales tax is added on?

3) What is included in the session? Is the money paid for just the photography booking and not the prints? If images are included in the total cost, how many? What kind of extra fees will be applied if necessary? Some photographers charge extra for various types of retouching or certain location bookings. HOW LONG IS THE SESSION? Make sure the time is outlined so the client gets what they are expecting and the photographer doesn't end up with more work than they expected. What happens if the session runs over-time?

4) By when will the photos be delivered, and by what medium? Are they going to be on a CD? Is the client expected to order prints from the photographer exclusively? Is the photographer sending the images over email? How long should the client give the photographer to put the finishing touches on the photographs? Does the photographer deliver the photos only after artistic license has been applied? 

5) Model release! The photographer should have a statement that specifies what the images can be used for after the shoot is over (typically this includes portfolio use, advertising, etc.) Likewise, the client should be clear about usage on social media (Facebook) etc. Can the images be duplicated? Can the photographer use them commercially? Can the client use them commercially?

6) By how much can the photographer be held responsible for the images' damage etc.? If the photographer loses the memory card, what happens? If the memory card ends up corrupt, what happens? If the photographer neglects to backup content, what happens? Likewise, if the client loses the disc, who is responsible? If the client damages printed images, do they have to pay for another copy?

7) If the photographer is sick, in a car accident, etc. what is the protocol and procedure for handling this? Is the photographer responsible for refunding all fees paid? Is the photographer responsible for hiring a replacement? 

These are some good guidelines to develop a rough draft of your own contract, but I strongly suggest taking that draft to a lawyer for review. 
In June of 2011, the Las Conchas fire ripped through  hundreds of thousands of acres of forest in northern New Mexico. Deemed a man-made blaze, it screamed toward the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico at an alarming rate. Los Alamos, NM was the victim of another fire, the Cerro Grande Fire in May of 2000, and the damage from that fire actually served to save the city from the hotter, faster, stronger Las Conchas. Some of the only un-burned trees left from the Cerro Grande fire were on Pajarito Mountain, the local ski resort.

Click image to view slide show.
If it were not for the efforts of fire fighters to save this landmark in the New Mexico forest, a large quantity of the people living in the city of Los Alamos would have probably lost all hope in their future in the area. Many have moved away, but some remain in the small mountain town, living their daily lives, and enjoying the parts of the forest that survived.

Los Alamos has a population of about twelve thousand today. Most of the people work a single industry, the science laboratory.
It's been about a year since I started hearing other professional photographers speaking out against watermarks on images. Such a basic issue among photographers has unnecessarily become a humongous hot button issue.

It is true that people who watermark get more comments from other photographers expressing a dislike of watermarks than do photographers who don't use them. It is not true that watermarks are useless in the digital age, and it is not true that the decision not to watermark an image never offends.

1) The first reason why I watermark images is because every lawyer I've ever had has advised me to do so. While it's true that watermarking an image does not prevent theft (people can crop it off or photoshop it out), if someone posts an image of mine without my permission in a way that omits the watermark, it displays an intent to steal. It shows they wanted it to be seen as their work and not just an appreciation for my work. All new photographers should be familiar with their rights as laid out in the DMCA Section 1202.

2) Some of the clients I have worked with have asked me to watermark my images of them that I post on the web because their lawyers told them that it's best to have watermarked images out there for similar reasons as I stated above. As a portrait photographer, not only do I have to be concerned about people stealing my image, but also my client's face. Someone taking my client's face and using it on a site that promotes child abuse or molestation would not be good for my client. And yet again, while my watermark does not prevent them from taking it, they are removing copyright identifying information, which is illegal and could win us a law suit.

3) To my knowledge, nobody has ever stolen one of my watermarked images. I also have never noticed anyone cloning it out or even cropping it off. It's just much easier to steal a similar image from someone who doesn't watermark. When I park my vehicle, I lock it because if someone is going to steal, it's easier to take the one that is left unlocked.

4) I give complimentary tear sheets to models. I'm sure they get a lot of them. While every photographer would like to think the model remembers which photographer took every shot, watermarking them ensures it never gets mixed up. It then frees up the model to post it where ever they desire to post it without typing my name everywhere or answering a thousand people wanting to know who took the photo. It also avoids other photographers of accusing the model of a failure to credit me for my photography. Similarly, I often give complimentary tear sheets to gallery owners, art show organizers, museums, or interested clients, and it is much easier to habitually watermark every image to ensure they have my information for later. (And yes of course I also use business cards.)

5) Honest to God I have had people referred to my site because they saw my information on a watermark.

You will notice additionally that my watermarks do not run through the middle of my image, and very rarely are they ever opaque. There are certain times when I will take that extra step, but ordinarily I use a faded watermark in one of the corners. I also advise new photographers to use Digimarc and fill out the necessary fields in their EXIF data.
Not in your wildest dreams would you ever imagine losing everything.  If that happened, how would you react?  What would you do?  This blog post is intended to raise money for these wonderful people, and to help those who are going through a similar hardship find hope that it will indeed get better.  

Alice and Alan planned to retire into the mountains near their long-time residence.  After selling their house in town, they began construction on their dream house on the piece of property they purchased.  A handy man by his own right, Alan did a lot of the work himself.  Understanding the dangers of living in the forest during times of extreme drought, they searched for a company willing to insure them on four separate occasions, but came up short.  They could not find insurance on their property because it was not a finished house.  One day, the unthinkable happened!  A fast-moving, crowning forest fire crested the ridge of the mountains by their home, and they had no time to gather many of their belongings on the property.  Alan locked most of them in a metal shed he had outside, hoping that even if the house burned, the metal structure would be safe.  They fled the property, watching whole trees burn behind them.
Charred pine trees as far as the eye can see around Alan’s property.
Upon returning to their property, it was worse than they imagined. Their entire piece of land was black, to include both the pine trees and the aspen trees. Their dome house was also black, and the shed was destroyed. Alice said that had they put on the final coat of concrete and installed the windows, their house may have survived the fire. 
The rain has since washed the soot of the outside of their house exposing the charred polyurethane foam.
Alan estimates the total value of their destruction to be about $600,000.  Among their losses were building supplies: sixteen solar panels ($500 each), three inverters ($3,500 each), 36 batteries for various generators and devices, multiple battery chargers, 24 tires for varies pieces of equipment (including snow tires with aluminum rims), 2 whole palates of Portland cement (70 bags total).  It also included $200,000 worth of tools: industrial shelving units (warped), a table saw, a radial arm saw.  They lost 90% of their household furniture, a camping trailer on the property, a truck, and family heirlooms to include a musket from the Civil War along with a loader and leather possibles bag.
Aluminum melts at 1220.58°F (660.32°C). Alan said that in some places, there was melted bronze. (Bronze melts at 1900-1950°F or 1038-1066°C.)
This is what remains of Alan’s shed where all of his belongs were.
Alan is a gifted photographer, and unfortunately suffered great loss in that department as well. He lost 250,000 slides, three Kodak slide projectors, dissolve units, and all his small photo accessories (filters, lens caps, bags, etc.) Luckily he took his cameras and lenses with him into the car when they left. The photos he has left are ones he has given away or sold, and a few that he had in their rental property in town. He mostly shoots nature and wildlife.

Surprisingly, a tractor, a welder, three shovels, some rakes, a sledgehammer, a sawzall, and a metal swing survived. Even more randomly were the two plastic chairs and a straw hat remaining after the blaze was out.

Despite losing their life savings and a lifetime of dreams and hard work, Alan wants to rebuild. He has not abandoned his dream to retire on that property. The couple has joined a law suit that does not seem to be making headway. They are exploring the possibility of suing the utility company because the fire was started by a tree falling on a power line. It was the responsibility of the utility company to ensure a proper easement clear of trees from power lines.

Alan is now looking for work once again, after retiring. They have purchased a new solar-electronics package. With the help of myself and other friends, Alan has constructed a shed on the property where he can store building supplies and belongings so they don’t get wet.
Alan’s friend is cutting the support beams and studs for the walls of the shed.
Aspen trees are starting to come back into the area, and they are now encountering the problem of having to cut some of them back to keep the forest healthy and not too thick. Elk and deer have returned to the property a few nights in a row to bed down for the night.

There is a lot left to Alan’s to-do list with this property. There is a giant mound of concrete left behind (the fire burned the bags of the cement, and then it rained, and it dried, and now the 2 palates of cement have hardened there). They need to put up new insulation and skin on their home, as well as metal shingles. They lost their windows and doors in the shed, so now they need to purchase new ones.

If you would like to donate to help Alice and Alan rebuild, you have several options:

1) Send donations to our PAYPAL (jessicaraephotos *AT* hot mail *dot* com) and note that it is going toward Alice and Alan. 100% of all donated moneys goes directly to Alice and Alan. 

Everyone who donates will be automatically entered to win one of several non-serialized / autographed prints by Jessica Rae Photography as offered in this album.

2) Purchase a print from our store, and 20% to 30% of the money will go to benefit Alice and Alan, depending on the piece. (You will notice I just raised the prices in my store slightly in order to get them more money.)

Why only 20%-30%? Jessica Rae Photography is not a non profit organization, and therefore has a limit to how much it can help others. This is an option for those who want to be guaranteed a print as something to show for their donation. Feel free to make a donation if you would rather do it that way. Feel free to explore both options if you want.
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 has a "flare problem." Well, I have taken that "problem" and experimented with it enough to now determine that it is not a problem, but an attribute. Used with correct white balance settings, the flare from the lens can be used to create a very interesting effect in photographs.

This is a photo I took of Cake, the band. In need of producing something unique, I took this lens in my bag. When I realized there was a white light that kept hitting me, I decided to time it for this shot! I had to take a few to discover the Kelvin temperature of the light, but this is what I ended up with, and it is a home run!

I encourage people to explore the capabilities of everything they have in their bag. It may seem to others like you're an idiot, using the wrong thing (As it seemed since I was using a flarey lens), but nobody else will produce something with that amount of creativity. When photographing bands, or people in general, creativity is what sets you apart from your peers.
CLICK ON PHOTO to view it larger.