Over the series of the next three blog posts, I’m going to cover some pretty common clauses in wedding photography contracts. This first post will cover those you need.
My second post in this series will explain those that are common inclusions that are neither really helpful or hurtful from the client’s perspective. Finally, I’ll wrap up the series with those you don’t need and may even need to be leery of.
From a couple’s point of view, these are the parts/clauses of a photography agreement or contract you absolutely want to see.
Common Clauses in Your Wedding Photography Contract Explained
- Names of the Couple
- When and Where the Wedding Will Take Place (if wedding and ceremony are in different locations, list both, specific addresses)
- Your photographer needs to know when and where to show up and needs to be informed if that happens to change. Should they fail to show up on the wrong date or at the wrong location, you want legal recourse.
- Name of the Photographer
- You don’t want to be surprised on your wedding day. Beware of photography companies who utilize associate photographers. Some of those companies hire out or subcontract your wedding to photographers with little or no photography experience… photographers with entry-level gear… and photographers will limited knowledge of weddings and the know-how to navigate through the challenges that commonly arise. If this is the case, you want to know beforehand.
- Yes, you want an exact cost of what you are paying—down to the penny.
- Complete Description of Services
- The total number of hours your coverage will include should be spelled out. When possible, add a beginning and ending time, or indicate that it will be determined later on the official timeline of the day.
- Exact product and services you will receive
- If you are receiving an album, your contract should indicate how many pages that album will contain and the number of images you will be allowed to place in that album. It should also depict the size and materials the album will be made from.
- The number of digital (or physical) proofs
- While a photographer can’t give you an exact number of images they will shoot, an experienced photographer will easily be able to tell you an average per hour that they typically deliver.
- If you are receiving digital proofs, how long will they be available for viewing?
- How will your digital products be delivered: cloud vs. thumb drive vs. disc?
- How many photographers will be covering your wedding
- How many hours will each photographer be available? Some companies only hire the second shooter for a portion of the event.
- Completion Schedule
- You need to know exactly when you will receive those proofs and products (as in a specific date or an exact number of days).
- Retainer or Deposit Clause (there is a difference)
- A retainer is non-refundable, but a deposit is. Both are monies paid toward holding or securing a particular date for a service. Some photographers unknowingly use them interchangeably. You should be aware of this stark difference.
- Payment Schedule
- You want your agreement to define when and how much you will need to pay towards the full cost of your wedding coverage.
- You also want to know what happens should you miss one of those payment dates.
- Interest and penalties, if any, should be clearly defined.
- Travel and Overage Fees
- If your photographer is charging any sort of mileage or overnight accommodation fee, you want it to be outlined.
- Under what circumstances will your photographer require a hotel room? Does that hotel need to be at the same one as you, or can it be at a much less expensive hotel half an hour away from your venue?
- Also, consider this. You originally contracted your photographer for eight hour of coverage. But on the night of your wedding, your reception is lit and you don’t want your photographer to leave before the party is done. How much will they charge you to stay? You want this set out ahead of time. Surprises are no bueno.
- Refund Policies
- You will want to know what happens with any monies paid to your photographer should you cancel the wedding, reschedule the wedding, move the wedding, a natural disaster occurs, someone passes away, you decide you photographer is no longer a good fit, or the photographer decides you are no longer a good fit. In some cases, the monies may be transferable or refundable, and in some cases, they may not.
- Cancellation Clause
- This clause should outline what happens with the retainer or deposit when the wedding is cancelled and by whom. For instance, you may get your retainer back if you photographer cancels, but you may not get your retainer back if you do.
- Backup Plan/Failure to Perform
- What is the photographer’s backup plan in case of injury, illness or death? You want the alternatives to be outlined.
- In the event that your named photographer is unable to perform, you want to know that they have a system or backup plan already in place to secure someone to replace them on your wedding day.
- Copyright Policy
- I often hear couples complain that their photographer will not give them a copyright to their images. Attention! You do not need the copyright. All you need is a limited usage agreement that allows you to post the images to your social media platforms and to print them. It is unlikely that a photographer will give up their copyright to your wedding images because this would then prevent them from using the images to market their services. And in the unlikely event that you are able to convince a photographer to sell their copyright (you’re extremely private or you’re a celebrity), expect to pay a pretty penny for it.
- Some limited usage agreements will prevent printing beyond a certain size and is usually limited for personal usage only.
- Some limited usage agreements require only watermarked images to be shared on social media platforms.
These are the basic clauses that you should see in your agreement with your photographer. Without these, you don’t have a clear meeting of the minds as to what to expect from your photographer. Each expectation should be clearly laid out in this legal agreement should you need something to fall back on or to refer to during your wedding planning process.
Next up… common inclusions in your wedding photography contract that are neither really helpful or hurtful from the client’s perspective!
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I am San Antonio’s most unique wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day turnaround, same-day prints, same-day slideshows and Italian handcrafted wedding albums.
I am an internationally-awarded and WPPI-C certified professional wedding and senior photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I pride my business in offering a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations. As a full-time professional photographer, my sole purpose is to provide amazing, memorable and full-service photography.
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents would be proud of!
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