Top 9 Things to Include in Your Wedding Photography Contract
As a new wedding photographer, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of booking your first wedding. With all of the details that go into the booking process, it can get confusing when you start to put together your wedding photography contract. What do you include? What do you not include? How long should it be? These thoughts are all perfectly normal, and key to creating a contract that will cover all of your bases, as well as allow your clients to clearly understand their expectations from you and vice versa. Check out our Top 9 Must Haves for your contract:
1. Rescheduling Clause for Clients
This is such an important piece to cover on your wedding Photography contract. Many times, a couple starts planning out pieces of their wedding before confirming that every vendor will be available. God forbid the venue or other vendor is unavailable on the requested day, they might have to reschedule the wedding altogether. I personally have a strict policy on this: if a couple requests to change the date of their wedding, and I am available on that day, then there will be a 25% rescheduling fee. This may seem a bit steep to you, but the reasoning is sound: there’s a good chance I had to turn down another couple for the same date that we had previously, and now I just lost that client because of this one. If I am unavailable for the requested date, then the deposit is non-refundable.
2. Rescheduling Clause for Photographer
That’s right, even you need a rescheduling clause! It is your responsibility to be at this wedding, no matter what. This couple has paid you a good chunk of change for you to capture their big day, and unless you physically cannot take photos for them, then you need to be there. If I have received a serious injury or serious illness that made me incapable of the job, then my policy is that it is my responsibility to find them a qualified replacement so that they won’t be left in the dust.
3. Delivery Timeline
Always be sure to have a guaranteed by date on your contract! My delivery timeline states that the couple will receive their images within 90 business days from their wedding day. Many couples have specific things in mind to do with their images, and having a set time will ensure that their personal timeline is accurate. Being clear and straightforward about the receiving date is key to maintaining good, returning clients. Just make sure you hold up your end of the deal as well!
4. Outdoor Venues
As a wedding photographer, you know just how important (and expensive) it is to maintain quality equipment. This clause is vital for the sake of yourself, as well as the sake of your clients. Weather is such a tricky thing to predict in advance, and if inclement weather has the potential to ruin your equipment, then it is unfair to both parties. It is the responsibility of the couple to have a backup venue just in case of bad weather, and they will be expected to pay the full price, even if you are unable to provide as much footage as before.
5. Venue Restrictions
THIS POINT IS SO IMPORTANT! I cannot stress how important it is to make sure the couple understands the importance of knowing all of the applicable venue restrictions. The couple is fully responsible for receiving these restrictions and getting them to you. So many venues have strange restrictions, such as a certain distance away for photographing or being in specific sections, which can severely alter the types of photos captured. Make sure that the couple is aware of these, so that they can plan the appropriate photos with you.
6. Crew Meals and Breaks
You and your crew should require a quality meal during dinner, and under no circumstances should you settle for a subpar vendor meal, so make sure the couple relates this to their planner and/or venue. Feeding the crew is an often forgotten detail which leads to a hungry and sluggish crew. The crew works very hard for the couple during the entire day and it should be pertinent to ask the couple to provide the crew with a quality dinner.
7. Damage to Equipment
As mentioned above, equipment is expensive and valuable to create the perfect moments for the couple. If drunk uncles or other wedding vendors accidentally break something of yours, it should be the couple’s responsibility to replace said item. I have a 3-day requirement, so that your equipment is replaced in a timely manner.
I won’t hover on this too long, but of course, copyright is a serious and important topic to cover. Make sure you have a detailed copyright agreement to ensure that all of your photos, stay your photos. Be sure to mention crediting when posting to social media or anywhere else on the internet.
Last but not least, the dreaded finances section. This section is where you can clearly spell out all of your costs for the couple to see. This is including, but not limited to, retainer, package fees, added fees, and non-payment clauses. This helps to keep everyone accountable, as well as to give the couple a clear timeline of when everything is due, and how much it will be.
At the end of the day, weddings are such magical events to cover, and it is an honor that these couples choose us to help capture their special day. Having a clear and straightforward contract ensures that everyone fully understands the expectations, as well as keeping both parties accountable and organized. I hope this post on writing a wedding photography contract has helped you.
Bellow you will find my ENTIRE wedding contract. This is the same contract I send to brides. This contract has been reviews by two lawyers and including several clients who are lawyers. HOWEVER, please consult with a lawyer before using this in your own business. As each state has it’s own legal nuances. Here it is:
A. 1. Agreement To Hire: ______ hereafter referred to as “CLIENT,” agrees to hire Vitor Lindo Photo + Video LLC, hereafter referred to as “STUDIO” for the purposes of producing an artistic and/or documentary style Wedding Photography representing and commemorating the events and activities of the CLIENT’s Wedding day.
B. 1. Booking Guarantee: Upon signature of contract and deposit received, CLIENT is guaranteed the STUDIO’s presence at CLIENT’s Wedding on (date).
B. 2. Delivery Timelines: CLIENT is guaranteed to receive the final products within 90 business days of their Wedding day.
B. 3. Communication: CLIENT should expect to receive periodic emails and requests for information both before and after their wedding date. Couples are encouraged to respond to requests in a timely manner and to communicate questions, changes in schedule, as soon as possible, and directly with the STUDIO. The STUDIO cannot be held responsible for any damages, missed specifics on the day of the event or any other misunderstanding as a result of the couple’s not communicating preferences, timelines, special moments or people, or other important factors. CLIENT understands it is their ultimate responsibility to ensure that information gets to the STUDIO, and not rely on another Wedding vendor they have hired.
B. 4. Client Cancelation Policy: Should the CLIENT decide to cancel their Wedding, the retainer given is non-refundable. Should the CLIENT decide to re-schedule the Wedding, the STUDIO will accommodate this rescheduling if the STUDIO’s calendar is open for the rescheduled date. This rescheduling fee is 25%. If the STUDIO’s calendar is not open for the rescheduled date the deposit is non-refundable.
B.5. Studio Cancelation Policy: Once this contract is signed and the deposit is received, the CLIENT is guaranteed the STUDIO’s presence at their Wedding. The STUDIO will make every good faith effort to work at the CLIENT’s Wedding even in the event of sickness. Should the STUDIO not be able to be present at the CLIENT’s Wedding due to serious injury, the STUDIO is responsible for finding a qualified replacement.
C. PHOTO PRODUCTION POLYCIES
C. 1. Purpose: The CLIENT understands that they are hiring the STUDIO for the purposes of capturing a Photojournalistic style Wedding Photography.
C. 2. Liability of Missing Photos: The STUDIO is not liable for any photos not included in the final product. The STUDIO makes every effort to ensure that data is protected from the moment it is recorded. We lock our memory cards so they cannot be overwritten, we store them in waterproof casing, and we back up your data to redundant hard drive. However, as with any technology, technology can fail or the unthinkable accident and/or damage can happen. The STUDIO shoots tens of thousands of individual photo/video files each year, per camera, for a total of over 100,000.00 files per year (50 weddings per year with an average of 2,000 files per wedding). A small percentage of these files, around +/- 0.0001% will be corrupted, this is the nature of technology. Unfortunately corrupted files are not recoverable at all and totally out of out control. In addition, if your package includes film photography, we remind you that once the film is shipped to the labs for processing the mail is out of our control. However, in the case of any loss, damage or theft of footage, the STUDIO will work with the individual CLIENT to remedy the situation, depending upon the severity of the loss. However, the CLIENT agrees that the STUDIO will not be held legally, financially or emotionally liable for any footage loss due to force majure, civil unrest, fire, flood, corruption, theft or damage.
C.3 Re-edits to photos: The images the CLIENT receives are fully edited and prepared for printing, however no photoshopping or “retouching” is done to any of the images. Some images do receive more editing, such as bride and groom portraits, but any specialty services must be purchased separately. These services include blemish removal, sliming, “head-swapping”, and other services. The fee for any “photoshopping” is $150/hr with a two hour minimum.
C.4. Engagement Sessions: These sessions last around 1 hr and are only available on weekdays. Delivery of engagement sessions photos is four weeks. Rush order of engagement photos is $250 and will shorten the delivery to one week.
C.5. Backup and storage of photos: The STUDIO advises clients to back up their photos to three separate drives immediately after receiving them. The STUDIO is not responsible for keeping copies of the CLIENT’s photos after delivery, however, the STUDIO does keep master backups of all the files for up to 6 months after a wedding.
D. EVENT POLICIES
D. 1. Exclusivity: The STUDIO is the exclusive official Photographer and CLIENT agrees that no other professionals will be present. The STUDIO cannot guarantee that any particular crew members be present at your Wedding (this includes the STUDIO owner), any and all of our professionals are fully capable of capturing the CLIENT’s Wedding day.
D. 2. Outdoor Venues: Under no circumstances can our crew shoot outdoors in extreme inclement weather, due to the nature of our equipment and/or for the safety of our crew. In the event that the weather takes a turn for the worse, it will be the sole discretion of the lead STUDIO crew member whether recording can take place, depending upon the amount of moisture getting on the equipment. In the event that there is a borderline situation in heaviness of rain, CLIENT understands that the final product may consist of less footage/photos then was originally intended. The payments rendered are non-refundable if poor weather or force majeure prevents taping and the CLIENT is still responsible for paying the remainder of the STUDIO’s fee. It is the CLIENT’s responsibility to have a back-up indoor venue.
D. 3. Venue Restrictions: It is the responsibility of the CLIENT to secure permission of the venue or other officials to Photograph the ceremony. The payments rendered are non-refundable if such officials prevent Photographing or force us to shoot from really far away. The CLIENT understands that if a venue limits our placement and movement of camera then the quality and artistry of the final product can and will be impacted.
D. 4. Preparation Period: During the hair, makeup, and dressing portions of your day, we strongly advise your location to be in a large, clean room with large windows and ample natural lighting. If any portion of preparations occurs in a dark, small, cluttered, dimly lit or artificially lit room, CLIENT understands the quality of the video/photos may suffer.
D. 5. Crew Meals and Breaks: The STUDIO’s crew requires a quality meal during dinner, under no circumstances can we eat sub-standard “vendor-meals,” please relate this to your planner and/or venue, feeding the crew is an often forgotten detail which leads to a hungry and sluggish crew. The crew works very hard for the CLIENT during the entire day and it is our policy to ask the CLIENT to provide the crew with a quality dinner.
D.6. Crew Dress Code: The STUDIO’s crew is guaranteed to show up in proper attire in relationship to the dress code for your Wedding. This normally means, dark pants and a dress shirt.
D.7. Guests and Cellphones: We kindly ask that you thoroughly remind your quests that you have hired a Professional Videographer to record your Wedding. We mention this because we have seen countless Weddings photos where a guest can ruin a photo by standing in the middle of the isle taking a photo with his iPad. Please, help us make your video/photos look great.
D.8. Disc Jokey Lights: A DJ can be a photographer’s best friend or worse nightmare. We discourage strong colored DJ lighting like deep purples or forest greens. These can make it more difficult to capture your wedding. Here are some colors that are easier to work with soft yellows, baby blue, easy green and light pink. Also, some type of spotlight is extremely helpful. Even a small one, this is helpful to light guests and the couple during toasts.
D.9. Amount Of Light During Reception: Many venues like to dim the lights during many parts of the reception, we kindly remind our CLIENTS that cameras need a minimum amount of light to work with. Sometimes this means having the lights brighter then you would like.
D.10. Damage To Equipment: If during the course of the wedding, any of the STUDIO’s equipment is damaged due to the fault of any of the wedding guests, or any other vendor contracted by the CLIENT (including but not limited to, venue workers, wait staff, planners) the CLIENT is liable for payment to replace that piece of equipment. The CLIENT agrees to pay for said damage within three days of the wedding.
E. CLIENT PACKAGE DETAILS.
E. 1. Products and Services: All products and services to be delivered by the STUDIO are listed in this section. If an item is not listed here, CLIENT should not expect to receive it. CLIENT understands that there have been no other insinuations of delivery for any product or service that is not included in this description. These include:
- XXX Hours of coverage
- Other deliverables
F. COPYWRIGHT AND USAGE
F. 1. Copyright: The STUDIO reserves all intellectual and ownership rights to the photos captured as well as the final product. CLIENT shall retain personal ownership right to the physical copies and final work contained therein, with rights to share their photos at their leisure and for personal use, but CLIENT ‘s rights to the final work shall not supersede the STUDIO’s rights to ownership. CLIENT shall never attribute the final work or any portion of it to himself or herself or any business or commercial interest they own, or use the work or any portion of it for commercial purposes. The STUDIO may use any visual imagery captured for demonstration, advertising, or other purposes so as to promote the STUDIO and attract new clients. No CLIENT shall be compensated for the use of their Wedding photos/videos or any portion of it. No marketing material will be displayed in any area that by association would hurt or otherwise injure the CLIENT ‘s name or reputation.
G. 1. Retainer: The CLIENT’s retainer payment of 50% is due immediately after signing of this contract. With the second and final payment of 50% due 30 days before the wedding day.
G. 2. Package Fee: The STUDIO created a customized package for the CLIENT’s Wedding day. This $XXXX package includes all the aforementioned deliverables.
G.3. Added fees: 7% GA tax is charged on every package. Beach weddings incur a $100 equipment cleaning fee.
G.4. Non Payment: If a CLIENT does not pay for the full price of the wedding package by the agreed upon time frame the STUDIO will work with the CLIENT to accommodate a more flexible payment schedule. However, CLIENT understands that they can only receive photos/albums if the CLIENT has paid all fees. This means that if the STUDIO has photographed the CLIENT’s wedding, the STUDIO has the rights to withhold the photos until full payment for the fees agreed in this contract are rendered.
H. 1. Agreement: This Agreement incorporates the entire understanding of the CLIENT to all its terms. Any modifications of this Agreement must be in writing in the form of an Addendum and signed by all parties. Handwritten or email modifications to this agreement shall be void. The CLIENT signing below shall be fully responsible for ensuring that full payment is made pursuant to the terms of this agreement. The laws of the State of Florida shall govern this Agreement.
I.1. Offer Validity: This contract constitutes an offer of services to the CLIENT and is only valid for 10 days after it’s sent. The STUDIO cannot guarantee your date to be available until this contract has been signed and a deposit has been made. We thank you for your business, please call Vitor Lindo at 912-604-1544 if you have questions.
Thanks for reading Top 9 Things to Include in Your Wedding Photography Contract blog post! Check out my other articles for photographers like Top 5 Ways to Find An Affordable Wedding Photography Assistant, Why Photographers Need A PDF Pricing Guide, Contax 645 Tutorial #3 | Camera Settings, Film Choices, Metering, and Posing, Contax 645 Tutorial #2 | Camera Accessories, Film Loading and More, Contax 645 Tutorial #1 | Hybrid Wedding Photography Equipment, and many more in our Journal page.
Check out some of my wedding photos at The Market At Grelen Wedding | Virginia Wedding Photos, Delta Plantation Wedding Photos, Belmond Maroma Cancun Wedding among others. And some engagement photos as well like Wormsloe Engagement Photos and Savannah Engagement Photo Session | Forsyth Park to name a couple. Also, go to our General Wedding FAQ and our Engagement Session FAQ posts for information about how to prepare for your photo sessions. We have other posts that can help you in your wedding preparations in our Journal Page. Don’t forget to check out my homepage for my newest wedding photography work.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, and be sure to follow us on social media for the latest shoots and blog updates!