It is no secret that growing your photography business is no easy task. It is also just as challenging to protect your wedding photography business. One key area in protecting your business is your wedding photography contract. Whether you are thinking about how to start a photography business, just starting a photography business, or are a seasoned pro, your photography contract needs to evolve and adapt. It is vital that you spend the time and energy to solidify your photography contract.
Wedding Photography Contract
No doubt – for the artist, the details of wedding photography contracts are no fun (and not for the faint of heart). Compared to shooting weddings and meeting with clients, an afternoon spent brushing up your photography contract is probably not high on your list. But, protecting the photography business you have spent so much time building is incredibly important. Whether you start with a contract template, or hire someone to write it, it is important you understand what you are setting up. That’s why we’ve connected with some of the industry’s wedding pros to share some of their best tips and insights for keeping their businesses safe with a properly built contract.
We partnered with CreativeLive for this free guide, all about your wedding photographer contract. CreativeLive empowers creators with inspiring education taught by world experts. They help creators of all skill levels learn powerful new skills, form community, and enrich their lives through visionary online education. Keep reading to learn wedding photography contract tips you can use for yours.
*Keep in mind, these are just suggestions for things to add to your photography contract. This is not legal advice.
Crucial pieces of information for your wedding photography contract:
Throughout The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Photography Contracts, we gathered tips from pro photographers about what they think is most important when it comes to photography contracts. Some of the details we share in the guide include 10 crucial pieces of information that should be a part of every wedding photography contract. If you go the route of a contract template, you need to ensure your wedding photography contract has these details.
“Contracts are the only way we can ensure that both the clients and our company agrees to the service to be provided. Contracts have protected us from numerous situations, but one of the most common situations is one that you may not think of: the date of service. The date of service should be quite simple and straight forward. Yet surprisingly, we have run into numerous instances where clients claimed to have booked the wrong date of service. Sometimes clients book a date in error, sometimes their date changes. In all of these situations we have bent over backward to service our clients. But, in the instances that the new date is simply unavailable, the contract has been our support and backbone. Our contracts are in place for so many reasons, but never did we think that the most common usage would be the verification of the agreed date of service.” – Pye Jirsa of Lin & Jirsa Photography
One of the pieces of information you can add to your contract is basic information, which may include your clients’ name and contact details. This allows you to easily contact them when necessary throughout the process. Other basic information you could include in your wedding photography contract is your contact information so your clients can reach out to you when necessary.
Another crucial piece of information for your wedding photographers contract is the payment plan and relevant dates. This is a big one, especially because it has to do with the payments your clients owe you for your photography services. In your contract, you can include the total amount your clients owe you, plus the dates each payment is due. The more specific you are with this, the more clear it will be for your clients. You can add in details about how you would prefer to be paid (electronically, cash, or check). If you typically charge a non-refundable booking fee (something that protects you in the event your client decides to cancel), that is something you can also include in your photography contract.
Within your wedding photography contract, you can also include clarification for image and product details. One of the best things to do for your wedding clients is to give them specifics when it comes to how many images you will deliver and when they can expect to receive them. When you add in the number of images you will deliver in your contract, you ensure there is no confusion once your clients receive them. Along with the number of wedding images you will deliver, you can include the process of when you plan to place the images in your photo gallery, how clients can order them, and how long it will take for you to deliver them.
An additional piece of information to include in your photography contract is cancellation or termination terms. This is especially crucial because your income may be primarily based on the weddings you shoot per year. If you miss out on just one wedding, it can affect you and your photography business financially. In your wedding photography contract, protect your income and place in details about what will happen if a wedding client changes their mind (or something comes up).
Those are just 4 of the crucial pieces of information you can include in your wedding photography contract. Download our free guide to discover all 10 of the suggestions.
Why is a wedding photography contract important for your business? Here are a few reasons:
We mentioned it earlier, and we’ll say it again: a detailed wedding photography contract protects your business. Contracts are essential to communicate clear expectations with clients and to share what products and services you will provide to them. An example we share in the guide has to do with the copyright of your images. For instance, maybe you have a verbal agreement about the copyright of your wedding photos. If they incorrectly share those images without credit or a logo, it can be difficult to refer back to the contract. With a contract in place and the details of how to properly share are included, you can quickly reference the contract and make sure your clients are clear on how to share in the future.
Another reason it is important to have a wedding photography contract for your business is that it shows you are a professional who clients can trust. As a wedding photographer, building trust with your clients will give them the confidence in you and your abilities. The more your wedding clients trust you, and the more clear you are in your photography contracts, the easier it will be to avoid conflicts and miscommunications.
As a wedding photographer, you likely work with vendors, companies, and fellow photographers. A contract is just as important for these relationships as it is with your clients. When you work with a second shooter, it can be helpful to have a photography contract that details your agreement to shoot the wedding day. This ensures you both are accountable for what you agreed upon and can work together without issue.
Additionally, vendor relationships are a large part of expanding your reach and meeting new clients. To build a relationship with vendors, and to create valuable referral sources, you may take images of them during the wedding day to capture them in action. If you share images with vendors, they are likely to share them on their website, blog, and social media platforms. When you have a contract with vendors, you can ensure your images will be properly credited as they are shared. The same can be said for other businesses or companies you work with. A contract makes it easier for you to share your expectations and ensure your business stays protected.
“All of our contracts come standard with a model release for the clients. After the shoot, we want to be able to use our images for portfolio, marketing, and educational purposes. We serve a lot of high-profile and high-net-worth individuals who request the clause be removed for their privacy. This is a modifcation that we are happy to make, but sometimes it can affect our availability and pricing if we know that we won’t be able to show to our work.” – Pye Jirsa of Lin & Jirsa Photography
What are some of the risks of not having a wedding photography contract for your business? Take a look:
Without a contract in place for your photography business, there are several risks you can run into. We cover a few of the risks in our guide, including facing potential lawsuits. As a wedding photographer, you work with different clients every time you book a wedding. You spend a lot of time communicating details and finalizing specifics for their engagement shoot, wedding day, and post-wedding products. Because you are only one of the decisions your wedding clients need to make, their stress levels can often be heightened.
An example we share in the guide has to do with wedding albums. Wedding albums are a fantastic way for your client to remember their wedding day, and they are ideal to help you increase your profit. Even still, there are potential issues that can arise during the album creation and delivery phase. Say, for example, your clients ask for additional pages in their album. You have the conversation verbally, but forget to update your wedding photography contract. Without the details written in their contract, your couple could be upset with the charges for the additional pages. Even though you discussed it, it is possible that your clients could forget those details. At this point, there is a risk that your couple could be so frustrated, they could take legal action against you and your photography business.
This is why it is very crucial to keep your wedding photography contract updated and as detailed as possible. When you share your wedding photography contract PDF (or print it), it protects you from legal action, which can be very damaging to your business. An updated contract also provides clear expectations for your clients, which keeps them happy. Keep in mind, happy clients refer you to others and share their stories. And just like happy clients will refer you and share their stories, unhappy wedding clients will also share their stories (possibly in a more public and angry way).
With everything you do for your wedding clients, you want to ensure their experience is positive. If a client takes legal action against you, there is a risk of damage to your reputation. Think about it like you would if someone leaves you a negative review. A new ideal client, who is searching for a wedding photographer, could see that comment and decide not to work with you. With your updated and detailed wedding photography contract, you can avoid any damage to your reputation.
How to create a wedding photography contract:
In our free guide, we also discuss how to create a wedding photography contract. There are several options for this, including having a professional help you with it. Like many things in your photography business (editing wedding photos, album-design, bookkeeping, more), you can get help with the creation of your photography contracts. As a wedding photographer, the specific details of a contract may not necessarily be your specialty (and that’s okay!).
“We always recommend to have a contract written by a professional. The biggest key we have noticed for a great contract is CLARITY. If everyone is on the same page and the contract can be easily read and understood, then everyone gets their expectations met!” – Zach and Jody Gray
Sometimes it can be helpful to see a photography contract sample. When you download our guide, you will receive a free wedding photography contract template from Rachel Brenke of TheLawTog®. Keep in mind, this sample contract template is a suggestion of what you can include – it is not intended to be legal advice. Download our free guide, created with CreativeLive, to learn more about photography contracts, how they benefit your wedding photography business, and suggestions to help you get started.