Date and time period the photographer will photograph the wedding. Plus, the exact addresses of the location(s): church, reception, home, etc.
Other agreed-upon dates or times for any additional photography.
How many photographers and/or assistants will be present.
Make sure the contract includes a statement that you are to be the exclusive paid photographer for the wedding.
Being provided refreshments and/or a meal if the wedding is scheduled for a particular time period, for example, 6 to 8 hours.
A 15- or 30-minute photographer’s rest period could also be stipulated if the wedding photography will require 8 hours or more, for example.
A payment schedule: down payment, final payment and any other payment points you typically request.
A designated time period within which all prints/albums orders must be received by you for the agreed-upon fee. If the couple delays ordering, then an additional fee may be charged.
The same applies to your delivery of the proofs and final order. The contract should state how many days after the wedding proofs will be available and how many days after receiving the prints/albums order you will deliver the completed package.
The contract should state clearly who retains the property rights of the digital files and/or negatives. Traditionally, the photographer retains the rights and the physical property, so he or she can resell images during the future and/or use them for an online portfolio as marketing samples. It’s important these specific uses are detailed in the contract, so the couple knows their likenesses will be used for marketing purposes.
There are occasions when a couple may ask to have the original digital files and/or negatives. The standard practice is to charge a separate fee if you are willing to sell them. If you do, then it is a good idea to include in the contract specific instructions for how the couple must store the files and/or negatives, so you still have the right to access them for reproduction for your Web site or other marketing uses.
Ask your attorney to prepare or approve a form model’s release too. The contract may provide the wedding photographer with the right to use the couples’ likenesses for marketing purposes, but not necessarily a family relative or friend. If you think you might use the wedding’s young niece, who is a flower girl attendant, for example, as an image for marketing your services to future clients, then you’ll want a model’s release. Remember, only legal adults, generally 18 years of age or older, can sign a release for themselves. A parent or legal guardian must sign a model’s release for a minor.
As your attorney will explain, one of the primary purposes of a contract is to detail also the possible downsides of your agreement. These include what occurs in event you are unable to shoot the wedding (illness, etc.) or if the couple cancels the wedding, and the amount of refund you provide or a cancellation fee.
Include in your contract the method for arbitrating any disagreements. A good method is to designate a disinterested third-party to act as a mediator.
This How To Photography article presents some of the important components that should be included in a wedding photography contract.
Professional, or commercial, digital photography is primarily a service business, which means a written, detailed and signed contract is critical to protecting your rights as a photographer and the client’s expectation of the deliverables.
Because of differences in state laws (in the U.S.), your wedding photography contract should be customized for your locale and your business. Ask your attorney (and you should have one if you’re operating any sort of business) to create your contract or find one of many form contracts online, and then ask him or her to adjust its contents/clauses for your purposes.
If your attorney is not familiar with the wedding photography business (although you should try to find one that is), then you’ll want to prepare a short document with a list of items that should/could be included. Some of these items are the following, but this is not an exclusive list.
This list is meant only to be an example from which to start. Your attorney will be the professional to determine and to advise you on the exact details of your wedding photography contract.
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The information in this PhotographyTalk.com article is general in nature. PhotographyTalk.com does not provide legal advice or imply legal strategies for photography business owners. They should seek such advice from qualified professionals.
Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Norman Franklin
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