What should it be in a wedding photographer contract?

Absolutely crucial document for both the couple and the photographer. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever not to have one. In fact if you come across an individual that will concede to photograph your wedding without the contract you should probably run. Even if it’s your friend. It is asking for a disaster to be happening. So let’s start with the essentials. 

Content

Personal details

Yours’ and photographers’ names and addresses. Date of the wedding, pre wedding dinner etc. All the exact locations and times. If you have separate locations for ceremony and reception make sure that is included in the contract. 

Package

It is not uncommon for wedding photographers to have only one package. Some others have several with different options to accommodate various requirements. How long the photographer is going to be at your wedding might  be essential in your decision making process.

Make sure you know what sort of time scale is available. All photographers have their own workflow modules. Some of us cover only entire day events and work only a certain amount of weddings each year. Others can accommodate smaller time frames to reach even the smallest ceremonies.

The cost

This one is pretty self explanatory and obvious. Have an amount you agreed in there clearly with booking fees deposits etc. Also times for when everything should be settled needs to be specified distinctly.

Time frame

Full day photography is interpreted in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. In one case it’s measured from bridal preparations till the first dance. Others have no limitations on that matter. You could have both parties’ preparations photographed. And you don’t necessarily require a team of people to do it.

It is purely depending on the individual skills, experience and time management. Good photographer will know where to be and when to get the most from the day.

what's in a typical wedding photographer contract

Digital photos

In my opinion there is a bare minimum that has to be met no matter what. In my book it’s 45 images per every hour of coverage. If you receive more – phenomenal. 

Albums USB and extras

If an album or a set of prints is a must have for you it is certainly a question that needs to be included. Even if you think of a digital package only you might have a change of heart later on. Majority of photographers will have some form of printed products in their offer. But not necessary.  Sometimes they are part of a certain collection or package.

Often these are available as add on that you will be required to pay extra. Before you order an album make sure you actually see a physical sample of that album to avoid disappointment. Album decisions can be made later on in the process but it’s good to know that there is an option to get one.

Online galleries tend to be a very popular option these days. Delivery method is USB drive alternatively digital download or both. If your photographer has a physical location for his business he might invite you to view those images in person

Cancellation policy

That should be clearly highlighted in a separate paragraph. Usually if you cancel your wedding your deposit/retainer is also a cancellation fee. If the photographer cancels you should receive back all the monies paid by you.

Limitation of liability

What is the scenario In case of an emergency either medical or personal it might happen that the photographer won’t be able to photograph your big day. Most contracts will assure you that all efforts will be made to secure a replacement photographer with similar terms. And it is absolutely true any photographer will move heaven and earth to provide you with sufficient backup photographer. 

In real life what are the chances to secure a solid photographer at the last minute to cover your day? If it was easy, nobody would book us a year in advance. If your wedding happens on Saturday in peak wedding  season all the good guys are long booked. If you get married midweek your chances for a good alternative photographer grows immensely.

However it really has to be a severe emergency to take a photographer out of the wedding game. We know how important to you is that your wedding went smooth. And we are aware how crucial our role is. Trust me to say that we do not take cancelling lightly. 

Extra time

There could be a paragraph specifying the maximum amount of hours your photographer is willing to work during one wedding day. Even if it says full day photography from morning preparations till the first dance.

You might need for your photographer to stay a bit longer if your wedding day schedule got dragged in time for whatever reason. Make sure you have the hourly rate in writing.

Copyrights

In the majority of cases you will receive full personal usage rights for all photos/videos from your day. That means that you can print them and share with your close ones and use them on your private social media platforms. 

Make no mistake thinking that if you paid the photographer for his services you will receive full copyrights. Every professional photographer no matter  the genge commercial, fashion, advertising or wedding will retain full copyrights of the work it’s been commissioned to do. 

I am aware of the individuals out there, giving away full copyrights with every wedding they shoot. Such practices only prove their lack of professionalism in their own genre. It is also confirming that they wrote the contract themselves without consulting a copyright lawyer. 

Non disclosure agreements

NDAs are completely different stories. Those are optional and very often misinterpreted with copyrights. What is happening is couples would like to have some level of control over where the images from their big day are being exploited.

I know where the couples’ concerns are coming from. Some photographers are extremely happy to place images anywhere without any consideration. Most photographers however use them only for self promotion in order to secure future clients through marketing and advertising. 

Be aware if you require a full NDA you will have to pay extra handsomely for that paragraph to be included in your contract. What good is our portfolio if we can’t share it? 

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