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Wedding Photography Contracts: The Complete Guide
When couples find their wedding photographer, they want to move straight to the fun stuff like engagement photos and choosing bridal portrait locations. But reviewing and signing a wedding photography contract is an essential next step.
With a signed contract, photographers can rest assured the couple will follow through on their payments because a completed and signed contract is legally binding. Legalities and fine print may sound stuffy, but wedding photography contracts, as with all vendor contracts, should not be overlooked. We consulted with Samantha Clarke, a photographer and former lawyer, to highlight the ins and outs of wedding photography contracts.
Why Wedding Photography Contracts Are Important
Contracts aren’t glamorous, and legalese hardly elicits wedding-planning butterflies. That’s why they’re put on the backburner as exciting topics like scheduling engagement photo sessions take precedence. But Clarke urges couples and her wedding photographer peers to take these documents seriously.
“In the excitement of planning and preparing for a wedding, photographers sometimes forget the importance of having a solid contract in place,” Clarke says. “The contract outlines expectations, so if things go wrong later, it’s great to have that document to look back at. It’s a way for photographers and couples to protect themselves.”
Contract importance makes sense in theory, but do photographers or couples actually use their contracts? In short, yes. According to the contract platform Wedding Industry Law, couples inquire about suing their wedding photographers pretty frequently. The most common disputes arise from three issues:
1. Breach of contract: when a photographer doesn’t provide the agreed-upon services.
Without a detailed contract, it’s tough to prove a photographer didn’t follow through on their agreed-upon services. That could leave couples high and dry without the photos they’ve been dreaming of. But contracts aren’t just for potential lawsuits. Contracts help photographers clarify their roles and responsibilities for the wedding, which helps clear up confusion before the big day.
“Sometimes the couple doesn't fully understand the photography industry, so the contract will outline the details of what to expect,” Clarke says.
“It’s important to have everything written down so the couples can refer to it.”
What Points Should Be Outlined in a Wedding Photography Contract
While photography styles, packages, and poses vary, most wedding photography contracts look similar. Clarke says a wedding photography contract should contain the following details:
Biographical and wedding-day information:
Selected package details:
“The contract should thoroughly include the photographer’s cancellation or rescheduling policy, such as the agreement that they can reschedule within 90 days of the wedding if something were to happen.”
That’s why most wedding photographers steer clear of “full-day coverage” within their contracts (unless it’s specified with a phrase like “up to 12 hours”). Make sure the contract includes how long the photographer will work, and the cost of additional hours if they need to stick around longer.
“Many photographers are reasonable and assume you are going to print your photos and put them up on your wall, and that’s totally within the right couples have with a personal license,” Clarke says. “But sometimes a contract stipulates that a couple is not entitled to submit to a publication without the photographer’s permission, so make sure to look out for this before sharing photos widely.”
“A model release permission is something the photographer and couple should talk about. This should be outlined in the contract so later on the bride and groom are not upset in the way their images are used.”
A meal clause:
Wedding Photography Contract FAQs
Is the contract valid without both signatures?
“A contract is not binding without both signatures,” Clarke says. “In most cases, people just forget, they’re not purposefully doing it. It seems small in the beginning, but when things go south and the couple or photographer realizes only one person signed it, that’s not a good place to be. The couple should be empowered to remind vendors to send their signed copy.”
Should a contract for destination weddings include specific details?
Another equally important destination wedding photography consideration?
Keywords: Photography Contracts, Wedding, Wedding Contracts, Wedding Photography, Wedding Photography Contracts
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