This is the third in a series that will be discussing the common problems that every couple encounters when trying to find their wedding photographer! Please feel free to ask questions, post comments and contact us for more information!
Welcome to part 3 in a series designed to help out those who are in the process of hiring a wedding photographer. Please see the first two articles here:
So, let’s assume you were able to find someone who fit all of those criteria, you got everything you wanted in your package, and now you’re ready to book them and sign the contract! lets go!
Slow down… This is the most important part of the process. This is where you tell your photographer exactly what you require from him, and he tells you exactly what he is going to do for you. If your expectations aren’t clearly met in this contract, chances are there will be communication issues and problems ahead. It’s also good to remember that photographers aren’t lawyers, and while we know the contract is a necessary evil, it’s usually annoyingly long. So while the contract isn’t nearly as fun as shooting your engagement session or collaborating on ideas for your wedding shoot, it’s very important for you and your photographer to be on the same page before you sign anything…
In the following article, I’m going to break down each section of my current wedding contract, and explain what it’s for, why it’s included and what you need to watch out for. I’ll also be attaching a PDF of my contract at the end of this paragrah, feel free to download it if you want to get familiar with what you should be seeing when you meet your photographer.
Section 1: Contact information
This section will require a LOT of names, email addresses and phone numbers. This includes both the bride and grooms info, the wedding officiant, the reception manager, the wedding planner, and the best man/maid of honor. It’s very important that we be able to contact all of these people in order to coordinate things like access to buildings, organization of groups of people, and so we can talk to the other people who will be in charge of different aspects of your wedding. The more people you have on the same page come the day of your wedding, the smoother things will run.
Section 2: Wedding Day Details
This section generally includes all of the details specific to your wedding – where, when, how many, wedding attire and wedding theme. There should also be a section for anything different or crazy that the photographer should be aware of. This information is very important to the photographer in a number of ways. It essentially allows him to prepare for particular moments and details of the wedding that are very important to you, but might not be obvious to a bystander, or might be different and unique to your wedding, and would require a little extra prep work. I mean lets just say you’re going to break out a little Vanilla Ice for your first dance, or the Philly Phanatic is going to jump out of the wedding cake… You’d want your photographer to be ready to capture that, right!?!?
Section 3: Pricing and Package information
Pay attention to this section! If you gloss over the rest of the contract, for the love of god, pay attention here. This is where the details of your chosen wedding package will be formally entered into a contract. This section should include all of the following details:
- How much you are paying the photographer
- The amount of the deposit, and the terms for the final payment
- The breakdown of the package
- Any special terms, conditions or special services you have negotiated
- How many hours the photographer will be working
If any of those are missing from this section – ADD THEM. You need all of this to be in the contract. Should a problem arise later on, it is this section of the contract that will determine who is responsible, and for what. If your photographer tries to claim you only paid for 4 hours of photography for your 8 hour wedding, it is this section of the contract that will set him straight. If your photographer tries to cheap out on the prints you paid him for, it is this section of the contract that will make sure you get your prints. Hopefully, none of these problems will ever arise, and more often than not, if problems like this do arise, it’s usually a mis-communication that causes the problems. Having this section of your contract fully detailed will eliminate the opportunity for that to happen. When you are done here, both you and your photographer will be on the exact same page as to what you are paying for, and what you should expect to receive.
Section 4: Legalities
In this section, you will find a long list of itemized conditions that make the contract legal. Chances are, this was drawn up by a contract lawyer, and will probably contain too many words for anyone to even consider reading it. I will give some bullet points here to give you some idea what to expect inside this section. This is designed to protect both you and the photographer, and usually does a pretty good job at that. The list:
- Once you sign, the date is officially booked. The photographer will not accept another job on this date, and you will not hire another photographer.
- If you cancel the wedding or change the date, the contract is void. The photographer will keep the deposit, but you will not owe the balance.
- You agree to meet with the photographer prior to the wedding to discuss all final details and to arrange times/locations/details.
- You agree to set aside appropriate time for the photographer to shoot formals.
- As the wedding is based on a timing structure, you understand that any delay that cuts out photography time will reduce the number of pictures you ultimately receive.
- The photographer is not responsible for people who do not show up to be photographed, or do not cooperate with having their picture taken.
- All images taken are property of the photographer under copyright law, and cannot be used for commercial or profitable uses without permission and compensation of the photographer. All personal use by the clients is allowed under this copyright.
- Model Release: The photographer may use the images taken as part of a portfolio and advertisements to generate more business.
- The photographer will be the only professional photographer at the wedding. This means Uncle Joey can’t bring his gear and stand in front of the photographer all night.
- The photographer will complete the clients order within X number of days
- In the event the photographer has some sort of emergency, the photographer will provide the client with a professional replacement who will complete the contract as signed. If a replacement cannot be found, all money will be refunded.
- any changes to the contract will need to be approved by both parties.
Yeah, that’s a lot of words, right? How many of you just glossed over that list? The real contract is about 4 times that length. I don’t blame any of you for not reading it, but there really is some important stuff in there.
From experience, the one I get the most questions about is the model release, so I just wanted to discuss that quickly… Lets be honest here – if you didn’t get to see a good amount of the photographers past work, you would not be here hiring them. The model release and the displaying of past work is the ONLY way a photographer is able to obtain new work.
Section 5: Signatures
This is it… Last chance for questions… Last chance for adding more data… Once you sign, it’s sealed. Getting this done can be a great relief, as it means one more piece of the wedding puzzle is solved. Just make sure you’re happy with every other word on the contract before you sign it.
So that’s it. At this point, you have yourself a wedding photographer! Congratulations!!!
Thanks again for reading.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, by all means, jump in. The more information we get out there, the better!