Contracts – Better for BOTH Clients AND Photographers

You may think contacts are just an example of modern-day bureaucracy gone wild. Recently, contracts have earned themselves a horrid reputation. I’ll give an example of a typical contract:

“Daniel van Driel makes no representation or warranty as to the completeness or accuracy of the information provided in the following document. Daniel van Driel shall not be liable for any losses, costs or expenses howsoever incurred by any party arising directly or indirectly from any act or omission, whether negligent or from any use by the Recipient or any other party of information provided herein. Daniel van Driel shall not be held liable for any missed photographs or failure to arrive on schedule or at all…” You get the idea. And I should mention, this is NOT my contract.

Happily, in the case of wedding photography, contracts aren’t just beneficial for photographers, but also, super beneficial for clients.

Put simply, contracts set forth the expectations for the client and the photographer. For instance, there are numerous horror stories of the wedding photographer being in the centre aisle for the ceremony. Just before the kiss, the grandmother pops out into the aisle with her giant iPad, completely blocking the photographers shot. What results is a photo of the rear of the unfortunate guest appearing in the wedding album in the spot that usually would be the first kiss. Not to mention, a very unhappy client, guest and photographer. By agreeing in the contract prior to the wedding that the photographer cannot be held liable for guests ruining photos, clients can warn all wedding attendees to not ruin the photographer’s photos.

Here are some more examples of how contracts can set forth the expectations between the client and photographer on the big day.

  • Bridal and Engagement Shoot Timelines
    • In the case of bridal or engagement shoots, the photographer will usually plan sufficient time needed to encompass all locations. If the client, for instance, arrives late, a contract should make clear a location(s) must be removed from the shoot in order to finish on the agreed time. This ending time may be extended at a charge (specified in the contract). However, this assumes the photographer doesn’t have other clients for the day and is completely up to his or her discretion. The contract hammers home the importance of arriving on time and tells the client what to expect in the case of arriving late.
  • Sickness/Illness
    • Although unlikely, it is a necessity for the photographer to make clear what happens in the unlikely instance that he or she is sick and cannot shoot the wedding. Although there isn’t an easy answer to this question, usually a full refund will be returned to the client and the photographer will find another photographer to shoot the wedding.
  • Album Revisions
    • As a photographer myself, I wouldn’t want to revise an album 50 times until the client likes it. Wedding contracts often set forth how many album revisions the client can make before extra revisions incur extra charges. This encourages the best utilisation of both parties time.
  • Overtime
    • At a previous wedding, I found a videographer who charged the client for 8 hours of coverage which later ended up being 15. Most photographers will charge by the hour. Or, charge for every hour the clients go over the agreed ending time.
  • Advisory information and planning before booking other vendors
    • The wedding photographer is one of the most important vendors. They will accompany you throughout the entire day, longer than any other vendor. Therefore, it is recommended that the wedding photographer be one of the first vendors booked as they can help in booking other vendors thanks to their connections in the wedding industry. A photographer can also best advise the amount of time necessary to transport between locations and do group photos etc. Wedding photography contracts will usually state the aforementioned information, allowing the client and photographer to plan around all vendors appropriately.

At the end of the day, I would advise against booking a photographer that doesn’t have a contract. There needs to be an agreement between the photographer and client clearly stating expectations and liabilities. A wedding day is far too important to regret, and knowing what to expect from the photographer and what he or she expects of you and your guests is vital in ensuring your wedding day runs smoothly and stress-free as possible.

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