If you’re a wedding photographer, you’re probably running yourself ragged between shooting on the weekends, editing on the weekdays, and trying to eat (and maybe sleep!) in between.
Somewhere in there, you’re also booking new couples and having them sign your wedding photographer contract, right?Right?!
Use a solid photography contract to increase your client’s trust in you and your professionalism, leading in turn to glowing reviews and more bookings!
If youaren’tusing a contract, let me suggest you get onepronto. I am truly not suggesting this for selfish reasons — a contract lays out clear expectations with your clients and helps protect your business in the event of a disaster.
So whether you’ve already got a contract or still need one, make it easy on your poor brain! I’ve put together this handy list of 7 must-haves in your wedding photography contract to make sure you and your clients are on the same page!
1). How many photographers will be shooting, and when?
You can’t be everywhere at once, so many photographers have a backup shooter to catch the photos they might otherwise miss (or to let you run to the bathroom!). Make sure your clients know how many photographers will be on site that day, so they know how much value they’re getting!
2). What kind of film will you shoot with?
Although most photographers switched to digital cameras a long time ago, regular ol’ film is becoming trendy again, and some hipster couples are requesting old school wedding coverage. If you offer both options, you may want to specify whether you’re shooting in film or digital.
3). What hours, locations, and events will you be covering?
Does your wedding couple want you there from the moment the bride starts getting ready to the final farewells? Or are you only covering the ceremony and reception? Be sure to include the hours you’ll be available, how many locations you’ll travel to (especially if you’re taking wedding party pictures in multiple spots), and which events during the wedding you’ll be covering (rehearsal dinner, pre-ceremony preparation, ceremony, reception, farewell breakfast, etc.). If you have a backup photographer, include which hours they’ll be there too!
4). What date will the client’s photo proofs be ready?
After the cake is cut and the happy couple has returned from their honeymoon, they’re going to want to relive the whole experience! Let them know upfront how long it will take you to edit and post photos for them to review and order and dodge a deluge of “when will you send my photos?” emails.
5). What are the payment terms and schedule?
Do you need a deposit before holding their wedding date? Half-down before shooting? Keep everyone on the same page by creating a clear payment schedule, stating how you accept payment (check? card?), and what happens if those payments are late.
6). What is your cancellation policy?
It sucks, but it happens to everyone sooner or later… sometimes a couple needs to change the date or cancel their wedding altogether. Help make the process painless by clearly spelling out what happens with their deposit and any other payments they’ve already put down.
7). What are your copyright terms?
Usually photographers retain the copyright of any photos they take, and just release reposting or printing rights to the wedding couple. Make sure your contract is clear about what rights you retain and whether your clients can repost on social media, reprint, and crop or re-edit the photos you’ve taken.
If the bride or groom wants to keep their photos private (i.e. not let you share on your own marketing channels or in your portfolio), you can definitely do that! But make giving up those rights worth your while — in other words, releasing the copyright should be worth more money to you!
Need a quick review of what copyright involves and how it affects you and your clients? Click here to read The Photographers' Guide to Copyrights.)
Got this all covered in your contract? Awesome! You’re making it easy for your brides and grooms and I’m sure they love you for it.
If you don’t have a contract, or maybe the one you’re using isn’t quite up to snuff, check out our Wedding Photography Contract Template. It covers all the legal basics — like payment plans and late fees, copyrights, and a limit of liabilities — and also gives you client tips and tricks I've learned working with photographers over the last few years. Stop worrying about the legal-ish and focus (*wink wink*) on the fun stuff.