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The Legal Paige Blog - Second Shooter Contract vs. Independent Contractor Agreement 

Second Shooter Contract vs. Independent Contractor Agreement 

Are you a photographer that desperately needs help during weddings? But, are you wondering whether you need a second shooter contract or just an independent contractor agreement? You’ve come to the right place!

A second shooter contract is more narrowly suited for a second shooter with key clauses you do not want to leave out of your contract. Although both the independent contractor agreement and second shooter contract are good hiring agreements to have in your legal toolkit, you always want to aim for a contract that will serve your SPECIFIC needs.

Let's break down the key differences of each contract so you know exactly which contract fits you best!

The Second Shooter Contract

A second shooter contract is a type of independent contractor agreement but has more specifically tailored legal language in it for hiring a second shooter for events or weddings.

  • The second shooter contract includes clauses related to the scope of work including, hiring the second shooter on a case-by-case basis, with no minimum hours per week/month.

  • The contract also has additional clauses regarding the fee rate which you will be paying the second shooter (whether that’s per hour or per job) and the working relationship between your company and them as an independent contractor.

  • The contract further has language regarding the second shooter honoring commitments, which explains that they are responsible for showing up when they are supposed to. Additionally, this clause covers that if there is a reason why they cannot be a second shooter anymore they must give notice at least 30 days beforehand.

  • One of the most important clauses in this contract is called “Photographer Exclusivity”. This clause acknowledges that your second shooter can engage in separate photography services but those services cannot interfere with their commitment to YOU! This clause also states that while the second shooter is conducting services they understand you are the sole, exclusive company working at the event and they cannot solicit or advertise their own business!

  • The second shooter contract also has a Use of Photos and Communication with Clients clause which prohibits the second shooter from sharing any photographs taken as a second shooter on social media (unless agreed upon by you). This clause also prevents them from communicating with the clients on social media by friending or following them.

  • Your second shooter should also have the highest level of professionalism when working under your company. This is why a Professional Standards clause is within this contract. This clause informs the second shooter that they must dress appropriately, professionally, and with good taste as well as conduct themself in an appropriate manner.

  • This contract also includes a Photography Project Requirement clause. This should include all of your expectations for how the second shooter will shoot on the event day and how/when you want your photos culled and/or delivered.

  • Other clauses like the Non-Solicitation clause, Non-Disparagement clause, and Confidentiality clause are ones you will also see in the general independent contractor agreement.

The Independent Contractor Agreement

A basic Independent Contractor Agreement handles more of a broader independent contractor relationship. This type of contract is used to hire a freelancer to be your virtual assistant, an assistant day-of to hold your gear, a copywriter to write your emails, a graphic designer to make designs, another team member, etc. (basically anyone who is a clone of you in some fashion and works independently…thus, they must have their own business on the side and work for other businesses too!)

  • An Independent Contractor Agreement has general clauses related to hiring a freelancer such as confidentiality, non-disparagement, and non-solicitation that prevents your independent contractor from stealing clients or disparaging your business.

  • This contract also includes a clause regarding protecting your work product and copyrightable works. This is a broader clause that can be used for many different kinds of independent contractors and not just photographers!

  • The Independent Contractor Agreement does NOT have the specific clauses you would see in a second shooter agreement like the photography project requirements clause, exclusivity clause, culling/editing clause, or a professionalism clause.

  • A general Independent Contractor Agreement is rather a catch-all for your freelancers! Therefore it does not cover the specific relationship between you as the lead photographer and a second shooter at a wedding/event.

TLP’s take

The differences between these two contracts may seem like simple changes but every single word in your contract is important.

An Independent Contractor Agreement WILL NOT cover the clauses specifically needed for a second shooter.

The Second Shooter Contract protects you from unique scenarios we have seen come up for photographers. Although you could technically use the Independent Contractor Agreement for a second shooter, you would be missing some key clauses from the Second Shooter Contract that we highly recommend.

The correct contract saves you legally AND shows your contractors that you are knowledgeable and a serious company. Just remember, when choosing between either contract you should ask “What do I need from my independent contractor? What risks should I protect my business from? What do my contractors need to be informed about and what risks should they assume?”

Check out these two contracts in the TLP Shop: 

 The Legal Paige - Second Shooter Contract The Legal Paige - Independent Contractor Agreement

THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT & IS FACT-SPECIFIC. A proper legal analysis is necessary based on your location and contract. Consult an attorney in your home state for advice regarding your contract or specific legal situation.
See our full disclaimer here.

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