Wedding contract ideas

Joined
Jan 14, 2007
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Saint Pete, FL
The other day at dinner a friend of mine who is a full time wedding photographer told me an interesting story. During a conversation, a potential customer told him that one of the other photographers he checked out had two outlandish demands in his contract. One was that he would be the only person at the wedding allowed to use a DSLR and the other was that if anyone else showed up with one and refused to put it away then the official wedding photographer could pack up his gear and leave and no refund would be issued.

At 1st I thought those demands were insane and maybe even a little rude but after having some time to think about it I actually understand them. It especially makes sense if he was a traditional wedding photographer who makes little from the events but rather makes most of his money from prints. I’ve been at weddings where I’m an official photographer yet I’m bumping shoulders with other folks for position at the cake cutting or bouquet toss. I’ve also had formal shots ruined because the bride (or groom) was looking in my direction while the groom (or bride) was looking in another, distracted by all the cameras around us.

This got me thinking about what kind of stipulations I’d put into a contract if I was a full time wedding photographer.

So I ask you, fellow Nikon cafe members, what kind of requirements would you put into a contract to protect yourself, the quality of your work and allow you to do the best job possible?
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
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Pittsburgh, Pa.
Other people with DSLR cameras don't bother me. If you show up with a D3, 24-70 with a Custom Bracket and SB-900, everyone knows who the official photographer is. As far as the B&G looking at someone else, you just have to control the situation politely. Either that or go into PJ style, sometimes these are the best shots.

I'm always friendly toward the guests with cameras. Just because they have good equipment doesn't me. Skills in-camera, editing and color management are the important factors. I always talk to them and sometimes teach them a few things.
 
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
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Rockingham, NC (Currently in Afghanistan)
The part about packing up and leaving is a bit rude, and would completely turn me off if I was looking to hire him. Sometimes, it's not what ya say, but how ya say it. There are more polite ways of insuring that you're the only photographer at the wedding.
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2006
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Orange County, CA
I'm always friendly toward the guests with cameras. Just because they have good equipment doesn't me. Skills in-camera, editing and color management are the important factors. I always talk to them and sometimes teach them a few things.

This is an interesting comment that you make. I shoot a D300 w/ 17-55 and while I do this for fun (not bragging), I sometimes outgun many "PRO" photographers at some of events that I attend. I have a large family and there is always some type of party every weekend. I am very respectful of the official photographer and never try to interfere to insure that they get the shots they were paid to capture. At some events, even as respectful as I am to not invade their space, you can see that they have this god like image. Its more of a cocky attitude than anything and the worst part is that these are the ones who end up with basic captures and nothing exciting because I see the pics. On the other hand, I have had other photographers who did mind that I was taking pictures while they were chimping, grabbing second camera, etc... They even converse with you and they just have a good time. I just had this happen to me about a month ago and the photographer was just a first class guy. To top it off, his images are very impressive and I asked him why he did not mind all the P&S and SLR's while he is taking his pics. I do not remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of " I am good at what I do and I will get all the shots I need." Now remember, I don't shoot for money and do not have an expensive D3 or bundles of pro nikon glass, but I am just sharing my experience.
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
108
Location
UK
Hi

The wedding market has certainly changed over here in the UK. I have been shooting weddings for 30 years. Currently I am too good for them :biggrin::biggrin:

Bolshy statement, sorry but let me explain. In the peak I was charging £300 for a wedding and getting £1000 worth of reprints, thats £1300 with a profit of £1000. That was in the mid 80s when my house was worth £30. That same house is now worth in th eregion of £300 000 so I should be making £10 000 from a wedding :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin::mad:

With todays "I am a photographer" from everyone who has paid a few £100s for a digital camera brides over here want to pay £500 and be given a disc.

Fair enough, fortunately in the same time I would take to shoot a wedding I can earn £1000 from portraits. Portraits are taken indoors so I am dry if it rains and if anything was to go wrong could be reshot.

I am not unlike lots of shooters over here. We are not worried about all the amateurs with their super dooper cameras, they are quite ok, just hope they know how to pose the bride, deal with outraged mothers and screming bridesmaids and what to do if it buckets it down when we are not their to set their photographs up for them.

stew
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
124
Location
Ottawa, ON
That does sound a bit harsh.. pack up and leave. I would personally just ask the B&G to make sure their family members/friends/guests try not to get in the way. IE, they can take whatever shot they want but not get in front of me trying to get a shot.
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
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Riverside, CA
No offense, but your friend is a fool. What good will leaving do? EVERYONE there will hate him and he will look like a big baby, not to mention not getting any referrals from anyone.

My contract has a couple line items along these lines: I am to be the only professional photographer at the event. And: no one is to photograph while I am photographing.

When I am asked about the second one, I explain it is for that certain family member that lots of people have, that always has a camera. I explain about wandering eyes, keeping on schedule, etc. I don't mind a few snapshots here and there, but if someone trys to take a shot or two of each and every pose I set up, we will run out of time.

Every once in a while, the story of the photographer who leaves comes up on a photography forum. Some actually say they sit down, or they start packing up their stuff, until the bride yells at all the people taking photos.

I don't think that is a winning situation either. Now the bride is stressed out, and it is going to show in the photos.

I don't have an assistant normally, but another way to keep things moving along is immediately have the assistant step in front of the pose right after you shoot.
 
Joined
May 4, 2005
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Southeast PA, USA
I have a clause in my contract stating that I am the official photographer. My policy is that I get my shots first, and then if guests want some shots, that's fine. I do have some issues when there are lots of cameras around because then the people being photographed don't know where to look. But other then that, no problems.

BTW, at a wedding seminar I took, the instructor said to be expecting other people there to be taking photos. He said to just "sell your package and price is right." If you shoot a wedding expecting to make your $$$ off of web sales of photos, you may be in for a surprise... Sell the package up front and have your money in hand by the time you're shooting.

Having said all that, if I ever had an unruly guest taking pics while I was, I'd just take one of the pocket wizards off of one of the lights and let it be a slave light. His/her flash would fire my strobe and blow out the pic. But I've found that most folks are courteous and I haven't had to resort to any of this yet...
 
F

fivegrand

Guest
I used to be one of the "pack up and leave" guys (interestingly, a second-wedding repeat client was one of the two that I packed up and left from). I've since changed my ways. I state up front that A) we will not shoot a wedding without a planner/choreographer/director, B) we recognize on-the-fly directions only from the p/c/d and C) we exclusively shoot (photo and video) the ceremony and formals (which I prefer to do at/after the rehearsal, which I cover as a "value add" service with a 0 cost entered on the invoice). Everything else - Uncle Bob can let 'er buck. None of my clients has ever questioned any of the above, all have been very happy with that arrangement.


I'd just take one of the pocket wizards off of one of the lights and let it be a slave light. His/her flash would fire my strobe and blow out the pic.

I do that anyway, not necessarily for that purpose specifically (though it works well) but because I use three lights set on two channels (two configurations sharing one light) and only have two receivers.
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2007
Messages
1,519
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North Carolina
He's getting PAID, so why worry about other people's equipment? I've said it before and I'll say it again. YOU ARE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY - NOT YOUR CAMERA! I wish people would stop letting the cameras take all of the credit for their photos.

So long as I got my shots, I don't care who else takes them. I know I'm walking away with the money in my pocket, so who cares if someone else, with a better or less camera than mine wants to take photos as well?

A lot of people are also doing their photos BEFORE the wedding (called first looks) so the guests aren't around and they can have more privacy.
 
I

iLLMaCK

Guest
Maybe because he's thinking that if they take pictures and give them the photos for free, they wont buy a similar angle of his shot, which in turn would make him money.

My thoughts.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2008
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181
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New York City
The reasoning for that in the contract is probably to guarantee that the photographer has enough time to get shots without others getting in the way. + what others have said.

Sometimes contracts make the situation sound much harsher than things actually seem.

Also, it isn't the OP's friend, before anyone calls the OP's friend a fool again.
 
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Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
9,532
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
I have had other photographers who did mind that I was taking pictures while they were chimping, grabbing second camera, etc... They even converse with you and they just have a good time. I just had this happen to me about a month ago and the photographer was just a first class guy. To top it off, his images are very impressive and I asked him why he did not mind all the P&S and SLR's while he is taking his pics. I do not remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of " I am good at what I do and I will get all the shots I need." Now remember, I don't shoot for money and do not have an expensive D3 or bundles of pro nikon glass, but I am just sharing my experience.

Besides the D3, I also shoot with a D300 and 17-55, it's a great combination.
I think if the paid photographer has enough confidence in his/her work, they won't mind others shooting with good equipment and just have some fun.

As others have said, if you charge enough up front, get paid in full one month in advance and don't rely on after wedding sales for profit, then let the others shoot.
After wedding sales are great but you can't rely on them.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Messages
1,281
Location
Saint Pete, FL
Other people with DSLR cameras don't bother me. If you show up with a D3, 24-70 with a Custom Bracket and SB-900, everyone knows who the official photographer is. As far as the B&G looking at someone else, you just have to control the situation politely. Either that or go into PJ style, sometimes these are the best shots.

I'm always friendly toward the guests with cameras. Just because they have good equipment doesn't me. Skills in-camera, editing and color management are the important factors. I always talk to them and sometimes teach them a few things.

My wife wants me to photography more weddings and so does my friend who owns the wedding photography business. I tell them both the same thing, there is no way I could do it unless my wife went with me for crowd control!!
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
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Saint Pete, FL
The part about packing up and leaving is a bit rude, and would completely turn me off if I was looking to hire him. Sometimes, it's not what ya say, but how ya say it. There are more polite ways of insuring that you're the only photographer at the wedding.

I'm sure he turns a lot of people away with that requirement but I can understand it somewhat.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
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Saint Pete, FL
I do not remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of " I am good at what I do and I will get all the shots I need."

Now that is confidence!! That is probably true for someone who does it for a living but the last wedding I went to was insane. There were have a dozen "paparazzi" there flashing away during the wedding ceremony in a church. Steve was warned by the priest not to use his flash or he'd be banned from photographing any other weddings there.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
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Saint Pete, FL
No offense, but your friend is a fool.

Sorry I must not have been clear. My Friend Steve was not the one with that requirement. One of his customers told him about another photographer (someone in North Tampa) who had that stipulation.

  • My contract has a couple line items along these lines: I am to be the only professional photographer at the event. And: no one is to photograph while I am photographing.
  • I don't have an assistant normally, but another way to keep things moving along is immediately have the assistant step in front of the pose right after
    you shoot.

Both good ideas.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Messages
1,281
Location
Saint Pete, FL
I state up front that A) we will not shoot a wedding without a planner/choreographer/director, B) we recognize on-the-fly directions only from the p/c/d and C) we exclusively shoot (photo and video) the ceremony and formals (which I prefer to do at/after the rehearsal, which I cover as a "value add" service with a 0 cost entered on the invoice).

All Excellent ideas, especially the requirement for a planner/choreographer/director, but I have to admit I've never seen one at any wedding I've ever attended as a guest or photographer.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Messages
1,281
Location
Saint Pete, FL
The reasoning for that in the contract is probably to guarantee that the photographer has enough time to get shots without others getting in the way. + what others have said.

Sometimes contracts make the situation sound much harsher than things actually seem.

Also, it isn't the OP's friend, before anyone calls the OP's friend a fool again.

I also think its also to protect him or herself as well. After all if the Bride and/or Groom aren't happy with the end results they aren't going to blame anyone but the photographer.
 

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