You may absolutely be the sharpest pin in the cushion when it comes to capturing a compelling image, but the business end of your enterprise is as important as the business end of your camera. And one mission-critical item of business every wedding photographer has to have is a solid wedding photography contract.
Here are three different sources, which all-together should provide you with plenty of tools in generating the perfect wedding photography contract.
“But all this legal stuff is making my head spin,” you might say. “Surely there must be some kind of software that speaks legalese and can take care of this sort of thing for me.”
That’s completely understandable, and hey, we’re a step ahead of you! Why don’t you have a look over [this here piece] from Fstoppers. It’s a review of an app called Agree that not only helps you draw up customized contracts, but it tracks where each of your clients is in the process and manages payments—all from your mobile device.
Next, let’s move over to the fun one. Photo.net assembled [this piece] a while back, compiling the insights of eight professional wedding photographers regarding client contracts: what to include, how to present the contract to the B&G, and would they be willing to share a sample contract, pretty please? The eight photographers were Jeff Ascough, Mary Ball, Bob Bernardo, Conrad Erb, Michael Mowery, Nadine Ohara, Josh Root, and David Wegwart. Here’s a tasting of what they came up with.
The unsurprising consensus: that a clear delineation of what exactly you will be providing needs to be on there, as well as precisely what the clients will be providing you—money (how much and when), usage rights to photos, yummy wedding chow, etc. Several of them seemed to feel that liability protection, specifically, is a big deal. (Go figure.) Some of the items you might not have anticipated included model releases (as part of a wedding photography contract! interesting!), and “a clause that says you are the only hired photographer” (Erb), and “how much time they have to get all printing done before prices increase” (Wegwart).
In re: when to confront your clients with the contract, the answers were fairly uniform as well. Opinion was evenly divided between “at the first meeting” and “when they have chosen to book me.” However, when it came down to “How about y’all share a sample contract that you use,” the photographers interviewed played their cards a bit closer to the chest. Answers varied from “back away slowly and don’t make any fast moves” (our paraphrase) to “we-e-e-ell…maybe by email, but not over a public domain medium.” Interesting: liability concerns made these photographers leery even of sharing the template for one of their contracts! Now THAT’S being cautious.
Now, granted, that conversation took place a few years back, and if you’re the type who’s a bit skeptical of any information that didn’t come out five minutes ago, we offer you [this piece] from The Knot. Interestingly, it’s written from the point of view of the couple getting married: what should they be looking for in a wedding photography contract? It’s helpful to be shown the legal situation you’re entering into from the B&G’s perspective. This insanely helpful piece features 20 bullet-pointed items that should be included in any wedding contract that’s worth its sodium.
A basic understanding of how a wedding photography contract works is fundamental to getting from ground zero as a professional wedding shooter, and if you’ve not yet put one together, this little compendium of good ideas is a great start.