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Wedding Photography Contract - the ultimate guide

How to Write a Wedding Photography Contract: A User-Friendly Guide

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Are you a wedding photographer who is looking for a guide on how to write a wedding photography contract?

You have come to the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about wedding photography contracts, especially if you are just getting started with your wedding photography business.

We will cover important topics such as what should be included in the contract, what rights you and your wedding clients have, and how to protect yourself legally.

So whether you are just starting out as a wedding photographer or you have been shooting weddings for years, this blog post is for you!

A quick disclaimer on wedding photography contract law

First of all, let’s start with a quick disclaimer: I’m an experienced Wedding Photographer, not a lawyer, so the tips and ideas presented in this blog post are just that – they are not legal advice.

Whilst the contract I present you with here held me in good stead, it may not be ideal for your local jurisdiction.

So please please treat this blog post as ideas for what should be included in your wedding photography contract and then get it checked by your own local lawyer.

So, with that out the way let’s get started.

Wedding Photography Contract - Legal Text

Why is a wedding photography contract important?

A contract for wedding photography is important for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it protects you as the photographer. It outlines what is expected of you and your client, and sets out the terms of your agreement. This can prevent misunderstandings and any potential disagreements later on.

Secondly, it protects your wedding clients. It ensures that they are getting what they expect from you as the photographer in terms of your deliverables, and outlines what will happen if anything were to go wrong.

Finally, it protects both of you legally. In the event that something does go wrong, having a contract in place can go a long way to resolving any disputes as there is a clear understanding of what the scope of the contract covers from both the perspective of the photographer and the client.

What should be included in a wedding photography contract?

So now that we know why a wedding photography contract or wedding photography agreement is important, let’s take a look at what should be included in the contract. Here are some of the key areas:-

  • The names of the photographer and the client
  • The date of the wedding
  • The location of the wedding
  • A description of the services to be provided by the photographer
  • The fee for the services
  • Cancellation and rescheduling policies
  • A list of the deliverables
  • The rights of the photographer and the client

These are just some of the things that should be included in your wedding photography contract.

Of course, every contract is different and you may need to include other clauses depending on your individual situation.

What legal issues should Wedding Photographers be aware of?

Now that we have covered what should be included in a wedding photography contract, let’s take a look at some of the legal issues you need to be aware of.

Firstly, make sure that you are familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction regarding contracts. This includes things like the statute of frauds, which requires certain types of contracts to be “in writing” in order to be enforceable.

Secondly, make sure that you understand what rights you and your client have under copyright law. In most jurisdictions, the photographer will be the copyright holder of the wedding photos unless there is a specific agreement in place stating otherwise.

Liabilities from badly written wedding photography contracts

Finally, be aware of any potential liability issues that could arise from your business. This includes things like personal injury or property damage. Make sure you have adequate insurance in place to protect yourself against any potential claims.

These are just some of the legal issues you need to be aware of when it comes to contracts for wedding photography.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and you should always consult with a lawyer if you have any specific legal questions.

Wedding Photography Contract - Bride and Groom Cake Topper

An example of a Wedding Photography Contract

So let’s go through a typical wedding photography contract template. This is, in fact, the wedding photography contract I used for my own wedding business, which I am sure would probably be sufficient for most wedding photographers.

Detailed below I will show why certain sections of the wedding photography contract are particularly important. Please note, however, that the actual wedding photography contract text is shown in Italics.

This contract formed part of our wedding photography booking form, and on that booking form we captured the following information:-

  • The couple’s names (defined as “The Client”)
  • Date of Wedding
  • Time of Wedding (if known at the time of booking)
  • Venue for Ceremony
  • Venue for Reception/Wedding Breakfast
  • Contact Address
  • Home Telephone
  • Mobile Telephone Numbers
  • Other contact numbers (if relevant)
  • Email addresses
  • Pre-Wedding Shoot Included (Yes or No)
  • Additional Notes
  • Agreed Package Details
  • Agreed Price
  • Booking Fee

The contract would then begin:-

The parties involved in the wedding photographer contract

This is an agreement between the following parties:-

Alan Hutchison Photography Ltd (“The Studio”)

and

The individuals whose names are referenced on the attached booking form  

(“The Client”)

It is mutually agreed that the following terms and conditions, and the preceding booking form combine and form an integral part of this contract and that no variation or modification of this contract shall be effective unless accepted by both Studio and the Client, in writing:-

Booking Fee

A booking fee of £350 is required at the time of booking, together with this signed contract. The booking fee is non-refundable. Any booking fee paid is however deductible against the total cost of any products or services supplied as part of the overall photography package. Dates are reserved only when this booking fee is paid in full and the contract is completed and duly signed by both parties.

Explanation: It is vital to show that your booking fee is non-refundable. It is also defined as a “fee” rather than a deposit.

Balance Payment

The total balance is requested to be paid not later than 30 days prior to the wedding day. Late payment may result in the cancellation of the booking and cancellation charges would then apply.

Explanation: You are clearly setting out your payment terms and that any late payment would result in cancellation of the wedding.

Pricing Guarantee

At the time of ordering all photography services and package prices are guaranteed not to change for those individual items ordered. The Client has the option to upgrade their package at a later date, however, they should note that prices for any services not included in the original order are subject to change at any time.

Explanation: This was providing comfort to our clients that after the price was agreed, the price would not rise unless, of course, they change their package at a later date.

Photography Services to be Included

Alan Hutchison (“the Lead Photographer”) will attend the Wedding at the agreed date and venue(s) shown on this contract. Depending on the package booked, an assistant photographer may also be in attendance. The Lead Photographer will attend for an agreed number of consecutive hours based on the specific package booked (e.g. 4, 6, 8 or 10 hours) and the start and finish times will be agreed with the client prior to the event.

Explanation: This section defined that it would actually be me photographing the wedding, and for an agreed set of hours (see the section later about substitution).

Overtime

Overtime beyond the agreed finish time is charged at £150 per hour (minimum one hour). In the unlikely event of an event running later than the planned schedule, the client, must authorise any additional overtime prior to the event.

Explanation: This very important section ensured that if an event ran late, then an overtime payment would be due.

Viewing of Photographs

Subject to availability, the Studio will endeavour to have the final edited photographs available within 21 days of the wedding date.

Explanation: Note that the commitment here is only an “endeavour” to have the wedding photos ready within 21 day – this covers you in the event of circumstances beyond your control causing delivery of all the photographs to be late.

Album Services

Lead time for Album production and delivery is 14-28 days following client approval of final images/album page proofs. 

Explanation: the key term here is “following client approval” – i.e. the album cannot be produced until the client approves the final design

Album Delivery

Completed albums are available for collection from the studio. Albums may be couriered to an alternative address, but all courier charges are chargeable and payable in advance.

Explanation: This clause just covers for any delivery costs if a client wants an album delivered direct to them (which could be overseas).

Client Album Image Selection and Sign-off

In the unlikely event that album images have not been selected and/or the final album design has not been signed off by the client within a 12 month period from the date of the event, we reserve the right to add a surcharge to reflect any increases in album manufacturing costs, or increases in VAT.

Explanation: This is a particularly important clause as it cover the situation where a client takes a long time to approve their final album – this is actually quite common. This clause ensures that if your supplier were to raise their prices, then you would be at liberty to charge a surcharge to reflect any increase in costs.

Creative License

The Lead Photographer shall be granted creative and artistic license in relation to the choice of locations and poses used and colour / black and white treatment added to the image.

The Lead Photographer’s judgment on photographic style and the number of photographs delivered shall be deemed correct. Due to weather conditions and the availability and willingness of subjects, the Lead Photographer will endeavour to honour any specific requests of the Client but does not undertake to guarantee any specific picture nor incorporate any specific background, location, or group arrangement.

Explanation: A vital clause that clearly states that the judgment on photographic style and number of images delivered would be your decision.

Retouching

Retouching is defined under this agreement as “the removal of minor skin blemishes”. Whilst we hand edit and process every single wedding image, specific photo retouching is limited to images of the bride and groom taken during their formal portrait session on the wedding day.

Explanation: We are clearly stating what we define as “retouching” and that any such retouching only extends to the formal portraits of the bride and groom.

Pre-Wedding Shoot

If a pre-wedding shoot is included within the package booked, the pre-wedding shoot will take place at a location in Stirling local to our Studio. In the event of poor weather, the shoot will be held in the studio.

Explanation: this ensures that we control where the pre-wedding shoot will be photographed

Copyright

The 1998 Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act assigns copyright to Alan Hutchison Photography Ltd. You may not copy the photographs taken under this contract, or allow copies to be made photographically, electronically, or by any other means unless agreed with the Studio beforehand. 

The Client is however expressly given permission to generate print copies of any digital files supplied as part of the photography package for their own personal (non-commercial) use.

Explanation: we are clearly stating that copyright remains with us, but that we grant permission to the client to use the images for their own personal use only.

Exclusivity

The Lead Photographer (and where applicable the assistant photographer) will be the sole professional (still) photographer at the venues specified. Family, friends, and other guests are however actively encouraged to take photographs throughout the day.

Explanation: this ensures that no other photographer is hired for any other part of the day.

Force Majeure

In the unlikely event of total photographic equipment failure, injury or sickness beyond the Studio’s control, liability shall be limited to a full refund of all monies paid. Your statutory rights are not affected. Alan Hutchison Photography Ltd has full Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Explanation: this is the “get-out” clause that means that any liability is limited to the amount the couple paid for your services.

Substitution

In the event of any sickness or injury of the Lead Photographer and subject to availability, the Studio will endeavour to secure an alternative photographer to attend the event and provide the services outlined in this contract.

Explanation: Very important – this means that if you are unavailable to photograph the wedding, you can find a suitable replacement photographer to work on your behalf at the wedding event if you so wish, and of your own choosing.

Cancellation by The Studio

In the event of cancellation by The Studio, its liability shall be limited to a full refund of all monies paid. Every effort will be made to find and recommend an alternative, qualified photographer.

Explanation: If the photographer cancels, this makes clear there is no compensation to be paid to the couple.

Cancellation by The Client

Any cancellation by the client must be notified in writing to the Photographer. As compensation for loss of income, the following cancellation charges shall apply as a percentage of the total fee due: Cancellation within 90 days of the wedding or less – 100% of the total agreed price; 90-180 days – 50% of the total agreed price.  

Explanation: if the couple cancel then they will still be liable for up to 100% of the fee due.

Postponement of Wedding Date

Should a wedding require to be postponed, then, subject to availability, all monies already paid may be applied to a new wedding date as long as a minimum of 180 days’ notice is given. 

Explanation: we allowed clients to switch a date as long as we had basically 6 months notice. You may prefer to add an administration charge of some kind.

Use of Images for Marketing Purposes

The Client understands and accepts that a photography business relies on showing its work for marketing purposes. The Client, therefore, agrees that any image may be used for such purposes and by signing this agreement expressly grants permission for the use of their wedding images in any of the Studio’s marketing and promotional activities.

Explanation: We always offered clients the option to remove this section from the contract. It just gives us the ability to use wedding images for our marketing. If a client had an issue with this it was usually down to some privacy matter (e.g. they may have been in the public eye and preferred their wedding images to remain private). Think of this section like model release information.

Data Protection

The Studio will store your name and wedding details on a private internal database. These details will not be made available to companies or individuals outside of Alan Hutchison Photography Ltd. Should you wish to have your details removed from the database at any time, please advise in writing.

Explanation: This clause just covers us under EU/UK Data Protection laws

VAT

All pricing is fully inclusive of VAT at the current prevailing rates.

Explanation: VAT is a sales tax that has to be added to a sale price when a company exceeds a certain level of turnover (the “VAT threshold”, which is currently £85,000 per year). This clause just confirms that payment was inclusive of VAT.

The Signature Section of the Wedding Photography Contract

The final part of the contract is the signature section and you should ensure that ALL parties to the contract (i.e. signatures for both the bride and groom and yourself, or studio representative)

By signing this contract I confirm that I have read and fully understand the terms and conditions of this contract and understand that this contract becomes effective immediately. I agree that cancellation rates will apply in the event of any cancellation by me.

To be signed on behalf of the Client:

DATE:

To be signed on behalf of the Studio:

DATE:

Couple signing Wedding Photography Contract

Are there other things you need to include in your Wedding Photography Contract?

I am sure there will be, depending on your circumstances and laws that may be specific to your jurisdiction. Don’t forget that it is a legal document and a binding contract, so please do ensure you do your own research on what should be included within a wedding photography contract and that the entire agreement is checked by legal experts.

You can find other sample wedding photography contract resources out there for the professional wedding photographer to use if you are in search of a free wedding photography contract.

In closing, I hope you have found this guide helpful in some way and that it gives you a good starting point for creating your own wedding photography contract.

What have we missed from our Contract? Let us Know!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

Most Importantly! Please let me know of any clauses that I have not included in the wedding contract.

For example, my contract didn’t include any provisions for dispute resolution, and with hindsight, it maybe should. Although having said all that, I was fortunate enough never to have entered into any disputes or threats of potential lawsuits.

Let’s hope you have the same good luck!

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About the Author

About the Author

Alan Hutchison runs a very successful Photography studio alongside his wife Morag in Scotland. As a former IT Director, Alan is also an accomplished SEO specialist and Marketeer. For Alan's latest training and speaking engagements, please visit www.alanhutchison.co.uk

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