It took me a long time to develop this exact wedding photography contract, or wedding photography agreement if you prefer, for my business.
However hard I tried early on in my business, I encountered my fair share of difficulties and misunderstandings with clients. Many of these were solved by tweaking the contract template I use. With wedding bookings being made so far in advance, it can take years for a change to filter through to your current weddings, so I hope this article will help speed up the process for you.
I’ve posted the wedding photo contract below, followed by some discussion around the key points, so you can better understand some of the key issues and my thought processes. It’s unlikely that any template will be a perfect fit for your business, so hopefully discussing the concepts will help you modify the wording here to fit your own needs.
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Photography Business Name
Wedding Photography Contract Template
This contract is between the photographer and the client as detailed below,
The Photographer’s name: already filled in ___________
Address: already filled in ________________________
The Client’s name: ______________________________
Contact telephone number: _______________________
1. Entire agreement
This agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties and supersedes all previous agreements (written or oral) between the parties in relation to its subject-matter.
Each party acknowledges that in entering into this agreement it has not relied on, and shall have no right or remedy in respect of, any statement, representation, assurance or warranty (whether made negligently or innocently) other than as expressly set out in this agreement.
Nothing in this clause shall limit or exclude any liability for fraud.
2. A Summary of the Contract
The photographer is responsible for providing for the client a photographic service and products as detailed in section 3 (‘coverage’). The client undertakes to engage the photographer for this coverage for the price as detailed in section 4.
3. The Coverage
Coverage will be provided by the photographer as follows,
Wedding date: _______
Coverage to commence at: _______ Coverage to finish at: _______
Wedding location: ____________________________________________________
Other locations where coverage is required: ________________________________
Product package included in the coverage: ________________
Engagement shoot to be included: Y/N
4. Payment Arrangements
The client will pay the photographer a total fee of £____ subject to the following terms:
A £____ deposit to secure the date and payable on execution of this agreement. This deposit is non-refundable or transferable in the event of cancellation, it being the agreed loss suffered by the photographer due to cancellation.
Payment of the balance of £____ no later than one month before the date of the wedding.
Cancellation less than 12 weeks before the date of the wedding will require payment in full. All cancellations must be in writing. The cancellation conditions above will apply for postponed weddings if the photographer is not able to re-schedule for the new date and time. The fee for postponed weddings is subject to change.
Any additional payments for albums and other services are to be made when that order is placed. Prices for orders placed over one year after the date of the wedding may be subject to change. This included orders included in the initial wedding package.
The entire copyright in the photographs is retained by the photographer at all times throughout the world.
Where a disc of photographs (digital image files) has been provided to the bride and groom as part of their wedding collection, these photographs may be printed, and displayed online, for personal but not commercial use.
The photographer retains the right in all cases to use the photographs in any manner at any time and in any part of the world for the purposes of advertising or otherwise promoting his work or any other use.
6. Image Size, Colour, Style and Composition
All image sizes are approximate. The photographer will provide a pleasing colour balance but cannot guarantee exact colour matching. It is sometimes not possible to record the exact colour as seen by the human eye.
There is no right to reject on the basis of style or composition. The photographer cannot guarantee the supply of any particular photographs that are requested.
7. Archival Release
Once all products within the wedding package stated in section 3 have been delivered, the photographer is under no obligation to retain the digital image files.
Hours of coverage include any travel time between venues. Due to the commitment to weddings at the weekends, engagement/pre-wedding portrait shoots are arranged Monday to Thursday. The location of this shoot is within [x miles] of [location y]. Otherwise, a charge may apply.
In the unlikely event that the photographer is unable to complete the coverage due to unforeseen circumstances, the photographer reserves the right to appoint another photographer to attend on his behalf to undertake the photography. No other hired photographers are permitted to photograph the wedding.
The photographer agrees to indemnify the client against all expenses, damages, claims and legal costs arising out of any failure by the photographer to obtain any clearances for which he was responsible in respect of third party copyright works, trade marks, designs or other intellectual property.
The photographer shall only be responsible for obtaining such clearances if this has been expressly agreed before the day of the wedding. In all other cases the client shall be responsible for obtaining such clearances and will indemnify the photographer against all expenses, damages, claims and legal costs arising out of any failure to obtain such clearances.
10. Limitation of liability
In the unlikely event of a total photographic failure or cancellation of this contract by either party or in any other circumstances, the liability of one party to the other shall be limited to the total value of the contract. Neither party shall be liable for indirect or consequential loss.
If any provision of this contract is held unenforceable, then such provision will be modified to reflect the parties’ intention. All remaining provisions of this contract shall remain in full force and effect.
This shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law, and each party agrees to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
The undersigned have read and understood the above contract and agree to the terms and conditions in their entirety.
Signature of photographer: _________________________ Date: _______
Signature of client: __________________________ Date: _______
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What does it all mean?
The contract deserves a little discussion before you go off and edit and use it. Here are some of the things you may want to consider.
1. Is it worth doing at all?
I started off without a contract, mainly because it just seemed like too much work when I was in the middle of learning so many other things about the wedding photography business. But without a doubt, you look more professional with one. Fundamentally though, you are far less at risk financially if for example the wedding is called off. A set of wedding photography terms and conditions is an alternative and I progressed to a set of these before going with a contract but legally a signed contract is more binding and furthermore anything that requires a signature is much more likely to be read and understood by your client.
This last point is important. There are a number of things included that you will probably want to verbally mention e.g. details around what happens in case of illness, or which days you are free for an engagement shoot. But having something in writing for the couple to take away and absorb after a consultation meeting, and also something that you can all refer to in case of a difference of opinion further down the line, makes it much less likely that a full blown disagreement will develop, souring your relationship with the client.
2. How to firm up the booking
As soon as the client has indicated to you that they would like to book you, send two copies of the wedding photography contract over already signed by yourself and with all your elements filled in so they can complete their part, retain one copy and send the other copy back to you with the deposit. You may want to consider including a self addressed and stamped envelope so they can easily get everything off to you. Plus it’s just one little extra low cost element that improves the service you give them.
It is useful to clearly but politely stress that the booking is not binding until the completed contract and deposit is received. It can be a little tricky because clients are busy with other things and sometimes assume the booking is in place just by ringing you up and saying so. Don’t feel bad about chasing people up in a nice way. Invariably in my experience, they are very apologetic and pull their finger out. I also think there’s nothing wrong telling a potential client if other people are enquiring after the same date. What I wouldn’t do though is offer to hold the date for them. People will be inclined to delay their decision, you’ll look desperate, and it can lead to an almighty headache going back and forth checking with people before offering the date to someone else.
3. Payment arrangements
I ask for the balance a month in advance of the wedding. Often people ask for it on the day, which is fine, but I don’t like to pester the couple for money on their wedding day, plus I want to know I’ve been paid before I turn up. In my mind, I think it also makes your service as a whole appear more valuable. The only issue I’ve had with this was one couple who said they would pay for the coverage in advance but would pay for the album once it was received. I agreed in the end that they would pay for the album once they’d agreed the design and before it went in to production. This eliminated any financial risk to me so I was happy to be a bit flexible with my terms.
I also include an element here that says that listed prices of products are subject to change one year after the date of the wedding. You might want to say they are subject to change at any time, but I want to give my clients some measure of certainty although one year is definitely long enough. You would be surprised how long some people take to decide on their final album design. My record is 3 years. Most do it in a month or two of the viewing, others just before the year deadline to make sure the price goes up, and a small minority just take an age, but at least you can pass any cost pressures on to them. Good albums can cost £1000 or more to produce so just the cost of inflation over a couple of years can really add up.
Just to be clear, I include the album in my overall package price which they will have already paid for, but if the client takes longer than a year to ok the design, I’ll charge them an extra fee if the production costs have gone up. With additional services like gift albums, framed prints or thank you cards, I’ll just charge the new rate.
4. Copyright issues
Even if I give the client a disc of the photographs, I hold on to the copyright. I grant them private use of the images, but they cannot use them commercially, so sell them on for example. If for some reason a client won an Oscar or something, I’d want to own those pics for sure.
I also make it clear that I can use them for any promotional purposes I like. You are bound to want to use your best shots for marketing purposes, so it’s vital you include this provision. I don’t sell any of my wedding images, but you might want to consider doing so. I’ve added in the final ‘any other use’ statement to the clause to cover things in that respect. If clients get a bit worried about that, you could always take it out for that specific case.
5. Attendance issues
There is also a little bit in the contract saying you reserve the right to appoint a photographer in your stead if you are not able to attend. I like to include this so I am not simply required to hand back the payment. Instead, I can appoint someone who I am confident will do a good job, and who I may ask to provide me with a disc of unedited images so I can complete the rest of the process myself.
I also offer engagement shoots, and like to specify some conditions around that too in this section. I make it clear which days these are available – for me that’s Monday to Friday – and where they take place, and under what circumstances extra transport costs might be incurred. You can obviously modify this for yourself or you might want to add these kind of criteria to your wedding day service too. Again, it’s a tricky balance – you don’t want to be too picky if you’re already charging a lot, but equally your time is valuable and it’s important to make this clear.
Clearly you may need to modify this clause depending on where you live, whether you need to state your country or the state you live in.
7. Possible additions
If you’re not careful, a wedding photographer contract can get interminably long, which may prove a little off putting to clients. However, you may have your own additional requirements or you want to be more specific about the service, for example detailing the part of the country you operate in, clarifying the album design process, setting out the number of pre and post wedding meetings that are included, or listing the information you require from them such as a list of group photographs.
Hopefully this article and the contract templates included below will make this part of the business set up process a little easier, so you can concentrate on the more fun stuff and go get some great shots of happy clients!
8. Wedding Photography Business Guide
- Do you want to make a LOT more money as a wedding photographer?
- Do you want to save a LOT of time and hassle setting up your wedding photography business?
To find out how, take a look at the first in my series of comprehensive wedding photography guides, covering every aspect of setting up your business, from the very best (and cheapest) marketing strategies to making sure the people who come to see you book to persuading them to spend more.
There is no way it won’t pay for itself many times over.
9. A final thank you
Many thanks to the Association of Photographers who provided some of the key elements of the information detailed here.
If you have any questions on wedding photography contracts or anything else photography related, please feel free to comment below, and I’ll do my best to get back to you.
[Please note: whilst I've done my best to ensure this contract is watertight, you use it at your own risk. If in any doubt, seek expert legal advice for confirmation of any and all points included within the sample contract provided. Thanks very much.]