It is no secret that growing your 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. This is also true for a photography business you are just starting. Whether you start with a contract template or hire someone to write it, it is important you understand what you are setting up.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Wedding Photographer Contracts
That’s why we partnered with Agree, Songfreedom, Fotoskribe, and TheLawTog to bring you a guide filled with suggestions of what you can place in your photography contract. We also discuss why you should have a contract in place and what it can do to ensure your success and longevity as a wedding photographer.
Throughout our guide, we provide suggestions of what you can place in your contract. We also discuss the need to have this legal document, plus Agree’s David Jay and TheLawTog’s Rachel Brenke share their expertise. 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.
Info for Your Wedding Photography Contract
Throughout our free guide, 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 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.
One of the pieces of information you can add to your contract is basic information, which may include:
- Your name and the best way for clients to reach you (whether it be by email, phone, or text)
- Your wedding photography business name and address (if applicable)
- The clients’ phone numbers, email addresses, and emergency contacts
- A short summary of the photography services you will provide and the hours you will shoot
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.
Locations, Dates, and Times
Other items to consider when building your photography contracts are the specific locations, dates, and times. If you are shooting both their engagement session and wedding day, it can be helpful to include the locations and dates for each. Chances are for many of your clients, the locations and dates will differ for each shoot.
To provide complete clarity, include the address of the locations and the times you will arrive. This will ensure your wedding clients know exactly where you will be and at what time, so there are no miscommunications or issues when it comes to the engagement session or wedding day.
The information in this part of the contract can also be valuable when the locations for the getting ready, ceremony, and reception differ. This is where a detailed wedding day timeline is helpful, so you stay on track and know exactly where you should be at every point of the shoot.
Payment Plan and Dates
Of the information you include in your photography wedding contract, the payment details are one of the most important. As a business owner, you set goals for the profit you will bring in each year. When a wedding client books you, you agree on the payment details and that helps you reach your income goals. To ensure you are paid accordingly and within a specific timeline, it can be valuable to include the agreement and the dates in which the payments are due, into your contract.
In your photography contract, you can feature the amount of the services your clients chose. If you agree upon a payment plan, you can also include the dates each payment is due. This helps keep your wedding clients accountable and allows you to stay on track with your business goals.
Another item you may want to include along with the payment details is if you require a non-refundable booking fee. This is something that protects you if the clients decide to cancel and you are unable to schedule another wedding in its place.
When you and your wedding clients chat during the planning meeting, you decide on the services that best fit their needs. The specifics you discuss with your clients are important to include in your photography contract. It highlights the services and products your clients chose, how much they cost, and how long it will take for you to deliver them once the wedding day shoot is over.
Some of the items you can include in your contract are:
- How many images you will deliver (a range or percentage will work)
- When the images will be available for viewing on your gallery
- The process your clients will follow to order images from your gallery
- How long it will take for you to deliver the images
- Specifics for album(s); how many pages and images included
- The process for ordering and delivering an album or additional prints
- How long you will keep their images archived
These are just some of the details you can include. If you provide additional services for your wedding clients, add those into the contract to provide clarity. The best thing you can do is set expectations for your clients, so they know when to expect their deliverables. When you include the specific details into your contracts, you also lessen questions from clients and diminish the chances they will be upset with you.
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).
We’ve talked about what you could do if your clients cancel or reschedule, but what happens if you run into an emergency? Your contract is an ideal place to clarify what will occur if something goes wrong and you cannot perform your duties as their wedding photographer.
When you build an emergency plan and include it in your photography contract, it can give your clients peace of mind that if something goes wrong, there will be a photographer there for them on the day. Along with your emergency plan, you can provide a few “what-if” scenarios and how they will be handled, such as:
- What happens if it rains on the wedding day and the ceremony is outdoors?
- What happens if you lose their images after the shoot?
- What happens if your wedding clients want you to stay longer than the agreed upon timeframes?
The more scenarios or potential questions you can address in your contract, the easier it will be to avoid miscommunications or more serious issues. Plus, you can keep your wedding clients happy throughout the entire process.
When the day of the engagement session or wedding shoot arrives, you may shoot at a location or venue you have shot at in the past. In those situations, you typically know the requirements and restrictions.
On the other hand, there are locations or vendors your clients may choose that you have never been to and are unfamiliar with the specifics for each. If, say, a venue requires you to have a permit, it can be helpful to clarify in your photography contract whether you or your clients are responsible for obtaining it before the shoot. This is a valuable detail to include so you ensure the day of is free of any issues, especially when it comes to the venue or location.
Another important element you can place in your photography contract is about meals and breaks during the wedding day. Depending on how long the shoot is, you could be there for hours and will likely require food and a few breaks. You can add to your contract what you and your clients agree on when it comes to meals and breaks and whether they will provide you with one after a certain number of hours.
These details are specific but are meant to lessen any issues that will arise during the engagement session or wedding day. Both you and your clients can benefit from these details, which is why they are important to add to your contract.
Why is a Wedding Photography Contract Important?
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.
Second Shooter/Assistant Details
Many wedding photographers work with a second shooter or assistant during the wedding day. If this is true for you, it can be valuable to include details about liability in your contract so you protect them from any issues or conflict. Your second shooter or assistant will likely come into contact with your clients and you may not always be around when that happens.
It is important to protect yourself and your business, but also those who work alongside you. If a second shooter or assistant upsets your wedding clients, it leads back to you. The details you place in your contract about liability for second shooters, assistants, or other employees in your business ensure they are protected and your brand remains intact.
Share Images with Vendors
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.
What are the Risks of Not Having a Wedding Photography Contract?
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 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.
Set Realistic Expectations
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.
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!).
Photography Contract Sample
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. Click the banner below to download our free guide to learn more about photography contracts, how they benefit your wedding photography business, and suggestions to help you get started.