Wedding Photography Contracts: The Complete Guide

When couples find their wedding photographer, they want to jump straight to fun things like engagement photos and choosing locations for bridal portraits. But reviewing and signing a wedding photography contract is an essential next step.

What is a wedding photography contract?

A wedding photography contract is a binding agreement between a couple and their photographer that outlines the photographer’s responsibilities, deliverables, and policies, including deferral or payment schedule.

With a signed contract, photographers can rest assured that the couple will keep track of their payments because a completed and signed contract is legally binding. The legalities and the fine print can seem overwhelming, but wedding photography contracts, like all supplier contracts, shouldn’t be overlooked. We consulted with photographer and former lawyer Samantha Clarke to shed light on the ins and outs of wedding photography contracts.

Meet the expert

Samantha clarke is an Atlanta-based lawyer turned wedding photographer. Since 2009, she has immortalized over 200 weddings across Canada, the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.

Why Wedding Photography Contracts Matter

Contracts aren’t glamorous and legal jargon hardly sparks wedding planning butterflies. This is why they are put on the back burner, as exciting topics like planning engagement photo ops take priority. But Clarke urges couples and her wedding photographer peers to take these documents seriously.

“In the excitement of planning and preparing a wedding, photographers sometimes forget the importance of having a solid contract in place,” says Clarke. “The contract outlines the expectations, so if things go wrong later on, it’s great to have this document to turn back the clock. It is a way for photographers and couples to protect themselves.

The importance of the contract makes sense in theory, but photographers or couples Actually use their contracts? In short, yes. According to contract platform Marriage Industry Law, couples inquire quite frequently about the possibility of suing their wedding photographers. The most common disputes arise from three issues:

  1. Breach of contract: when a photographer does not provide the agreed services.
  2. False declaration : when the photographer promises, say, a certain type of photo but doesn’t deliver it.
  3. Diversion: when a photographer uses a photo of a person without permission.

Without a detailed contract, it is difficult to prove that a photographer did not follow up on the agreed services. It could leave couples dry without the photos they dreamed of. But contracts aren’t just for potential lawsuits. Contracts help photographers clarify their roles and responsibilities for the wedding, which helps clear up the confusion before the big day. “Sometimes the couple don’t fully understand the photography industry, so the contract will outline the details of what to expect,” Clarke said. “It is important that everything is written so that couples can refer to it.

What points should be outlined in a wedding photography contract

While photography styles, packages, and poses vary, most wedding photography contracts look the same. Clarke says a wedding photography contract should contain the following details:

  • Biographical and wedding day information: Include the names, addresses and contact details of both parties. But don’t stop there. “It’s also great to have specific locations like the address of the ceremony, the name and address of the venue, and of course the date of the wedding — the month, day and year,” says Clarke. .
  • Details of the selected package: It is not sufficient to simply state “all of the highlights”. The contract should be specific to avoid confusion. It should list everything that is included in the selected package, with details such as “eight to 10 hours of coverage” instead of “full day coverage,” Clarke says.
  • Agreed payment: The package information should also show important monetary details such as payment schedule, late fees and deposits. “Be specific about the money and note if there are any non-refundable withholding fees,” says Clarke. “Many photographers require a 50% deposit upon signing the contract, with final payment due 30 days before the wedding. Some break it even more. It’s up to the photographer who feels comfortable.
  • Schedule of deliverables: For a wedding photographer, the job is only half done at the end of the wedding day. The end product is delivered weeks, and in some cases months, afterwards. This can be a point of frustration for eager couples, so it’s important to clarify the product timeline. “Answers to questions like ‘when will you get the album? “And” how will it be delivered? “Are important,” says Clarke. “Sometimes the bride and groom are so caught off guard that they go on their honeymoon that they forget about the extra deliverables.”
  • Payment method: It can be convenient, but payment by credit card is rarely accepted by photographers. This is because the additional costs add up which means lost revenue for wedding photographers. Payment requirements should be clearly stated next to the agreed salary. Does the photographer only take checks? Do they accept credit card payments if the customer covers the costs?
  • Reprogramming parameters: The pandemic has forced many wedding photographers to clarify their postponement and cancellation policies. “This is something that nobody expected, so a lot of clients are wondering if there is any wiggle room to reschedule or cancel their weddings,” Clarke said. “The contract should detail the photographer’s cancellation or postponement policy, such as the agreement that he can postpone within 90 days of the wedding if anything were to happen.”
  • Overtime: When couples and photographers sign their contracts, it takes months and in some cases more than a year before the actual wedding. The bride and groom have no idea what today’s schedule will look like, so it’s hard to pinpoint the exact times. This is why most wedding photographers avoid the “full day” in their contracts (unless it is specified with a phrase like “up to 12 pm”). Make sure the contract includes the photographer’s working time and the cost of overtime if he needs to stay longer.
  • Copyright Specifications: When couples receive their wedding image files, they want to share them with the world. Instagram and Facebook are generally good (it helps the photographer with word of mouth marketing), but some photographers say newspaper ads and magazine submissions are banned. “A lot of photographers are reasonable and assume that you’re going to print your photos and display them on your wall, and that’s totally within the rights of couples with a personal license,” says Clarke. “But sometimes a contract says a couple is not allowed to submit to a post without the photographer’s permission, so be sure to check that out before sharing the photos widely.”
  • Release model: On the other hand, some couples do not want their images to be used in a photographer’s promotional material at all. “A lot of couples expect their photos to be on social media, but some don’t, especially if kids are involved,” says Clarke. “A model release is something the photographer and the couple should talk about. This should be described in the contract so that later on the bride and groom are not upset with the way their images are used.
  • Securing permits: Some popular photo locations require pre-approved permits, but who is really responsible for reaching out and making this happen? “Talk to who gets the permit in the contract,” says Clarke. “It’s important to move forward so that you don’t get kicked out in the midst of bridal portraits. “
  • A meal clause: The bride and groom are responsible for providing meals to reception providers such as the photographer and the group, but this usually only applies to coverage of an event that lasts beyond a set number of hours . The wedding photography contract must specify this deadline, as well as the number of meals required.

Wedding Photography Contract FAQs

Is the contract valid without both signatures?

In the hustle and bustle of planning a wedding, it’s easy to forget to ask your photographer for the countersigned version of the contract. The photographer is usually on top of that, but the chaos of wedding season can cause even the most organized photographers to forget about this step. But without the two signatures, the contract will not hold.

“A contract is not binding without both signatures,” says Clarke. “In most cases, people just forget they’re not doing it on purpose. It seems small at first, but when the going gets tough and the couple or the photographer realize that only one person signed it, it’s not a great place to be. The couple should be empowered to remind sellers to send their signed copy.

Does a contract for destination weddings have to include specific details?

Destination weddings are a dream of many photographers, but they require full contracts. Clarke, who travels frequently to film weddings in tropical areas like the Caribbean, says a destination wedding photography contract should include who pays for the trip, what travel-related costs are covered (such as luggage registered) and accommodation specifications.

Another equally important consideration for destination wedding photography? Whether or not the photographer can legally work there. “Some countries require you to have a visa to work there legally,” she says. “It’s always good to have these conversations before signing the contract so the couple can determine if the photographer is familiar with the requirements of different nations.”

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