Wedding Photography Contract - Looking for feedback

Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
1,431
Location
Alaska
Here is a draft of my wedding contract. Please provide blunt feedback if needed.

Special thanks to BourbonCowboy and hankejp for providing sample contracts.







Agreement for Wedding Photography


This agreement contains the entire understanding between the “PHOTOGRAPHER” (Bryan Hickok) and the “CLIENT” (_______________________________________). It supersedes all prior and simultaneous agreements between the parties. The only way to change or add to this agreement is to do so in writing, and providing the document is signed by all the relevant parties. The CLIENT listed above holds exclusive rights to approve, reject and retain the PHOTOGRAPHER’s services, regardless of the actual payee for said services.

Wedding Times and Locations -

Rehearsal and Dinner:

Bride and Groom Pre-Ceremony:

Wedding Ceremony:

Formals:

Reception:

Any other relevant times and locations:

Wedding Photography Package Includes -

Photography services beginning 90 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony and ending at the conclusion of the wedding reception (not to exceed 10 hours). Private online gallery of selected proof images. Full editing of 250 images chosen by the CLIENT. Online gallery of edited images to share with family and friends. Full size digital copies and digital negatives (RAW files) of all proof images (edited and non-edited) on DVD.

1. Wedding Consultation: The parties agree to a sit down consultation, no more then two weeks before the wedding date, in order to finalize the actual shooting times and locations.

2. Payment and Cancellation: The CLIENT will pay the full balance of $_________ by the day of the Wedding. No photography will take place and no rights are granted until timely payment is made in full. The CLIENT may cancel this contract prior to the Wedding Day by written notice to the PHOTOGRAPHER.

3. Event Guide: The CLIENT will be responsible for (or have someone designated for this responsibility) identifying people/objects of whom/which specific photographs are desired. The PHOTOGRAPHER will NOT be held accountable for not photographing desired people/objects if there is no one to assist in identifying or gathering people for photographs.

4. Church and House Rules: The PHOTOGRAPHER is limited by the guidelines of the ceremony official or the reception site management. The CLIENT agrees to accept the technical results of their imposition on the PHOTOGRAPHER. Negotiation with the officials for moderation of guidelines is the responsibility of the CLIENT; the PHOTOGRAPHER will only offer technical recommendations.

5. Cooperation: The parties agree to positive cooperation and communication for the best possible result within the definition of this assignment. The PHOTOGRAPHER is not responsible for key individuals’ failure to be present or to cooperate during photography sessions, neither for missed images due to details not revealed to the PHOTOGRAPHER. Should the ceremony start late due to any reason whatsoever, the PHOTOGRAPHER will not be held liable for any photographs not taken. The PHOTOGRAPHER recommends the CLIENT designate an "Event Guide" (see above) to point out important individuals to the photographer, whom the CLIENT wishes to include in informal or candid photographs.

6. Formals: The CLIENT is responsible to set aside sufficient time, during the course of the day, for the Formal photography of the Bride, Groom, family, and other group shots. If a person’s late arrival (or any other reason outside of the PHOTOGRAPHER’s control) prevents this set aside time from occurring or being reduced in minutes, the PHOTOGRAPHER shall not be held liable for failure to take desired photographs.

7. Exclusivity / Guest Photography: It is understood that the PHOTOGRAPHER will act as the sole and exclusive wedding photographer. Because of the fact that flashes from guest’s cameras may ruin shots taken by the PHOTOGRAPHER, the CLIENT acknowledges they are responsible for notifying all of their guests that guest photography is not permitted at any time while the PHOTOGRAPHER is in session.

8. Guest Cooperation: The CLIENT is responsible for the conduct of their guests. The CLIENT will direct all other service providers (florist, DJ, caterer, etc.) to provide any needed information and cooperation to the PHOTOGRAPHER. Coordination with other service providers is necessary to complete all the photography sessions as scheduled. The CLIENT should share the photography schedule with other service providers to make sure that there is no conflict in times. In addition, events during the wedding day should be planned to make the best use of time from all vendors.

9. Art of Photography: The CLIENT understands that the quantity of photographs taken at a wedding can vary greatly and that wedding photography by nature is an art, subject to the creativity of the PHOTOGRAPHER and his personal artistic style. The CLIENT understands that he/she have chosen the PHOTOGRAPHER because of his photographic style, and will grant the PHOTOGRAPHER the right to exercise his creativity in the interest of creating the best wedding-day images possible. The CLIENT understands he/she may not demand a refund on account of differences in artistic preferences over the final images.

11. Model Release: The CLIENT hereby assigns and grants the PHOTOGRAPHER and his legal representatives the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use and publish photographs of The CLIENT or in which The CLIENT may be included, for editorial, trade, advertising or any other purpose and in any manner and medium; to alter the same without restriction; and to copyright the same. The CLIENT hereby releases the PHOTOGRAPHER and his legal representatives and assigns from all claims and liability relating to said photographs. It is agreed that the PHOTOGRAPHER may display and use the photographs taken for advertising, display, website and internet promotion, photographic contests, public display such as in malls, photography books, photography instructional books, store fronts, window displays, studio display, television advertising, magazine advertising, and any other purpose thought proper by the PHOTOGRAPHER.

12. Proof Gallery and Post Processing: After the wedding, the PHOTOGRAPHER will provide the CLIENT with a online gallery of selected low-quality watermarked proofs. The CLIENT will then provide a list of the top 250 desired images to be edited. These images will be post processed and edited by the PHOTOGRAPHER. The CLIENT will receive full size digital copies and digital negatives (RAW files) of all proof images (edited and non-edited) on DVD.

13. Digital Negatives, Digital Copies, Prints, and Copyrights: The digital negatives (RAW files), digital copies, and prints produced by the PHOTOGRAPHER are protected by Copyright Law (all rights reserved) and may not be reproduced in any manner without the PHOTOGRAPHER’s explicit written permission. Upon final editing, limited copyright ownership of all images will be transferred to the CLIENT under the following conditions:

 The digital negatives (RAW files) are for disaster recovery purposes only and the digital copies are for personal use and for the purposes of image reproduction and distribution to friends and relatives.

14. Limitation on Liability and Non-Guarantee: In the event the PHOTOGRAPHER cannot perform this Agreement in whole or in part due to a fire or other natural disaster, act of God, act of terror, or other cause beyond the control of the parties, or due to illness or injury, then the PHOTOGRAPHER will return all fees to the CLIENT but shall have no further liability with respect to this Agreement. This limitation on liability shall also apply in the event that photographic materials are damaged in processing, lost through camera malfunction, lost in the mail, or otherwise lost, damaged, or stolen without fault on the part of the PHOTOGRAPHER. The CLIENT agrees that an entire wedding cannot be replicated, reenacted or repeated for the purpose of a re-shoot and limits the PHOTOGRAPHER’s liability to the amount paid under this contract. Although every possible care will be taken to produce photographs of all important and special events during the wedding, the PHOTOGRAPHER cannot place an unconditional guarantee on wedding photography services, and will not be held responsible for any ruined photographs due to guests’ (or any other) flashes; or any other ruined photographs due to any other cause in or outside of his control.


I have read and understood the terms above. I hereby agree to the terms of this agreement. And, I certify that I have received a complete copy of this agreement with all blank lines completed.


Bride/CLIENT_______________________________ Date _____________

Groom/CLIENT______________________________ Date _____________

PHOTOGRAPHER___________________________ Date _____________



 
Joined
May 1, 2005
Messages
1,200
Location
Warwick, N.Y.
Real Name
John DeSanto
This contract is very similar to the one I use. My only suggestion would be item #2, where the remainder of the fee is due the day of the wedding and the client can cancel right up until the wedding day. My contract calls for full payment to be received two weeks before the wedding date. The advantage here is:

1) Any bounced or bad checks can be acted on before the wedding takes place, and

2) You are not chasing the bride or groom or parents for a check on the wedding day, which can be a real PITA.

But, of course, that's your prerogative.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2009
Messages
1,304
Location
Kitchener, ON
My perspective is from an interested bystander who once attended a wedding. In other words, I don't know what the norm is in the wedding industry.

Here are some comments.

Point 2. I'm surprised the client can cancel up to the event day without any down payment being withheld.

Point 7. I think this condition unnecessarily creates bad feeling for the client and any guests. I'm not sure the blanket statement about no other photography while in session is necessary or advisable. Can you just put a disclaimer there? I can see a need to specify that the Client responds to your instructions only while in session.

Point 11. Model release. This seems to specify only the clients' image release. Does this mean you can't include any other guests (even the wedding party) in any advertising or other display? Again, I don't know what the norm is.

I was surprised by the inclusion of the RAW files for disaster recovery only. In other words, you are passing the risk of your losing all your work on to the Client. I'm not passing judgment, just saying it surprised me.
 
Joined
May 1, 2005
Messages
1,200
Location
Warwick, N.Y.
Real Name
John DeSanto
Point 7. I think this condition unnecessarily creates bad feeling for the client and any guests. I'm not sure the blanket statement about no other photography while in session is necessary or advisable. Can you just put a disclaimer there? I can see a need to specify that the Client responds to your instructions only while in session.

I understand where you're coming from on this, but it's absolutely imperative that the official photographer has the full attention of the wedding party while formals are being taken. Telling the bride and groom to respond only to your instructions is one thing but it won't work in the real situation. If you end up with amateurs shooting over your shoulder then all the subjects start looking in every direction and the pictures are ruined.

What I usually do - just before formals - is identify the people with the "nice cameras" and tell them "No one takes pictures while I'm taking pictures - I'll give you a chance at each shot when I'm finished." So I set up the shots and then step aside for 10 seconds after each pose and say to the paparazzi: "Your turn..." It usually works pretty well and people are usually cooperative. If one of the amateurs insists on shooting while I'm working, I confront them, nicely but firmly. If they continue to shoot, then I no longer cooperate and stand in the middle of all of the remaining poses. (Thankfully, it has only gotten to that point twice in my career.) It is during the formals that the official photographer has got to be fully in command with a very loud voice or the whole situation can turn into chaos. (There is no such thing as a shy wedding photographer.)
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2009
Messages
1,304
Location
Kitchener, ON
I understand where you're coming from on this, but it's absolutely imperative that the official photographer has the full attention of the wedding party while formals are being taken. Telling the bride and groom to respond only to your instructions is one thing but it won't work in the real situation. If you end up with amateurs shooting over your shoulder then all the subjects start looking in every direction and the pictures are ruined.

What I usually do - just before formals - is identify the people with the "nice cameras" and tell them "No one takes pictures while I'm taking pictures - I'll give you a chance at each shot when I'm finished." So I set up the shots and then step aside for 10 seconds after each pose and say to the paparazzi: "Your turn..." It usually works pretty well and people are usually cooperative. If one of the amateurs insists on shooting while I'm working, I confront them, nicely but firmly. If they continue to shoot, then I no longer cooperate and stand in the middle of all of the remaining poses. (Thankfully, it has only gotten to that point twice in my career.) It is during the formals that the official photographer has got to be fully in command with a very loud voice or the whole situation can turn into chaos. (There is no such thing as a shy wedding photographer.)

Thank you for taking to the time to explain this for me. Your last sentence is probably the reason I could never be a wedding photographer.

It's been a long time since I've been to a wedding and none since I've had any dslr. In the past, I don't recall such instructions being passed to the guests. That's why I questioned it. As an amateur, I definitely would appreciate the guidance you seem to be giving. I certainly don't want to get in the way, so I'd be very happy with those 10 seconds at the end of each mini-session. That's a good, pro-active way of keeping control while making the guests happy.

Thank you again for your thoughts.
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
1,860
Location
Rural Virginia
Even though the contract specifies an Event Guide (Item #3) I always like to get a shot list from the B&G. I give them a sample and they add/subtract as desired. It becomes part of my contract with appropriate disclaimers. In addition to the legal purpose of the contract I try and use it to make sure that my understanding matches what the B&G expect. I haven't had a bad experience (yet), but if I do I suspect it will be due to a mis-match of expectations.

Regarding the paparazzi: I do the same as jjdesanto1 but perhaps for a different reason. I often use the NIKON CLS system to control my flashes during the formals. Other flashes going off at the same time can create havoc with CLS.

While the contract specifies (Item #7) that the PHOTOGRAPHER is the sole and exclusive photographer it does not address videography. I have had problems with a videographer setting up a tripod in a location critical to my shots. Also photography at the reception when the videographer is using video lights can be a challenge. I suggest the contract address how this will be handled.
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
1,156
Location
MD
I think you should mention "reservation deposit" and is non-refundable on #2.
 
Joined
Feb 18, 2008
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491
Location
Orlando, FL
I think you should mention "reservation deposit" and is non-refundable on #2.

Last time I check...In a Court of Law...the term "deposit" even if you tie it with NON -REFUNDABLE can be argued that a deposit can be and should be refunded.

The term "retainer" is much better in court.
 
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
5,262
Location
NJ
I think that #7 is a bit too inclusive as others have pointed out. Why not specify this for the formals. Right now it's basically saying that no one during the entire event (not to exceed 10 hours) can make photos and that's a bit draconic.

I would also specify a timeline for when the pictures/DVD is supposed to be ready including a deadline for the bride to review the images. "After the wedding" is a bit vague and can set unrealistic expectations (the next day?) and an unhappy customer.
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
14,472
Location
Toronto Canada
"It supersedes all prior and simultaneous agreements between the parties. The only way to change or add to this agreement is to do so in writing, and providing the document is signed by all the relevant parties." This is very unclear. The only way you're going to have a wedding photography contract exist is when all parties have agreed and the final contract is signed. You won't have a 'prior or simultaneous' agreement so remove it. You need to change the second sentence to "All amendments to this contract shall in writing." Plain, simple language that all understand. If there is no amendment in writing, there are no changes to this contract (which only becomes a contract when fully agreed to and signed).

"The CLIENT listed above holds exclusive rights to approve, reject and retain the PHOTOGRAPHER’s services...." The way this is written means they can fire the PHOTOGRAPHER two minutes/two hours before the ceremony. It needs to be re-written to explain the real meaning behind it.

Clause 1: "no more then two weeks before" should be than, not then

Clause 5: "Should the ceremony start late due to any reason whatsoever, the PHOTOGRAPHER will not be held liable for any photographs not taken." I don't understand this at all - if the photographer is there, by contract, 90 minutes before the scheduled ceremony, he is FULLY responsible for taking images of the ceremony, even if it is late. He is contracted to be there, he will be there so it doesn't matter if the ceremony starts late - unless the ceremony is later than 10 hours after scheduled start time, according to the terms of the contract in the paragraph before Clause 1. The photog is there to take pictures, for up to ten hours, so he is fully responsible for ceremony pics, no matter when the ceremony starts. This clause will not let you out of a contractual obligation agreed to earlier in the contract.

Clause 9: "refund on account of differences" should be "refund due to differences" or "refund because of differences". "on account of" is slang terminology which is not legally definable.
Clause 9: "artistic preferences over the final images" should be "artistic preferences in the final images" or "artistic preferences of the final images", whichever it is that you mean

Clause 11: "and to copyright the same." Copyright is immediately assigned to the photographer the minute the image falls onto the medium aka storage card. The photographer doesn't need permission to copyright the images, and he doesn't need to do anything to copyright them. It's a given so it should be removed from the clause.
Clause 11: "The CLIENT hereby releases the PHOTOGRAPHER and his legal representatives and assigns from all claims and liability relating to said photographs." So, if your compact flash card pooches, or you screw up and format it, and don't get any pictures of the wedding, the CLIENT releases you from all claims? Spell out exactly what type of claims you mean in this clause re: model release.

Clause 13... you can't transfer limited copyright ownership. You transfer copyright in writing, or you don't. You will want to replace this with a "license to use" for specific purposes. This is the proper terminology.

"And, I certify that I have received a complete copy of this agreement with all blank lines completed." You don't start a sentence in an agreement with "And,". It should read: "I also certify that I have received a completed signed copy of this agreement." If the lines are blank, it's not considered completed. If it's not signed, it's not an agreement.

Always remember one thing about a contract: it's only as good as what a judge rules when a problem arises. Always assume, when writing clauses, that if a judge can't understand what you meant, the judge won't rule in your favour. Be clear, be concise and be brief.

You might want to add in a clause regarding any malfunctions of systems at each venue, including the church and reception hall.
 
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Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
1,431
Location
Alaska
Point 2. I'm surprised the client can cancel up to the event day without any down payment being withheld.

Not an issue for me yet since my income isn't dependent on my photography.

Point 7. I think this condition unnecessarily creates bad feeling for the client and any guests. I'm not sure the blanket statement about no other photography while in session is necessary or advisable. Can you just put a disclaimer there? I can see a need to specify that the Client responds to your instructions only while in session.

Perhaps clarification is needed... I've seen photos ruined from guest flashes... I myself ruined some photos as a guest at a family member's wedding with my flash...

I was surprised by the inclusion of the RAW files for disaster recovery only. In other words, you are passing the risk of your losing all your work on to the Client. I'm not passing judgment, just saying it surprised me.

I have no problem giving the clients the RAW files. The more copies, the less likely the images get lost. 20 years down the road they might lose contact and have no other copies of the images but the RAW files.... or their children might become photoshop gurus and create far better images in post then I ever did or could have... Think of this in the context of me being a part-time wedding photographer and not a pro...
 
Joined
Feb 18, 2008
Messages
491
Location
Orlando, FL
Not an issue for me yet since my income isn't dependent on my photography.



Perhaps clarification is needed... I've seen photos ruined from guest flashes... I myself ruined some photos as a guest at a family member's wedding with my flash...



I have no problem giving the clients the RAW files. The more copies, the less likely the images get lost. 20 years down the road they might lose contact and have no other copies of the images but the RAW files.... or their children might become photoshop gurus and create far better images in post then I ever did or could have... Think of this in the context of me being a part-time wedding photographer and not a pro...

I think you should rethink this...for example

Bride A ask...are you avalible for a wedding on 1/15/11
Bride B ask for the same date.

You say..sorry Bride B...Bride has a sign contract ( with no retainer)

Then while you are charging your batteries and formatting cards and cleaning lens...on 1/14/11 Bride A cancels.

You have no money...and all that time wasted.
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
1,431
Location
Alaska
The only thing I see...there is no Retainer. If they cancel last mintue...your stuck..with no money

Stuck how? If I have yet to put any time/work into the job, then no harm no foul. Sure, I might have wasted an hour or so meeting with them, but that's not an issue for me. I'm a full time stay at home dad. If I was a full time professional wedding photographer, I would conduct things differently. :smile:
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
1,431
Location
Alaska
Thanks for the replies thus far... I will respond to the rest of the posts when I have a bit more time... :)
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
1,431
Location
Alaska
I think that #7 is a bit too inclusive as others have pointed out. Why not specify this for the formals. Right now it's basically saying that no one during the entire event (not to exceed 10 hours) can make photos and that's a bit draconic.

That sounds Great to me... :biggrin:

I'll find some middle ground of some kind with the wording...

I would also specify a timeline for when the pictures/DVD is supposed to be ready including a deadline for the bride to review the images. "After the wedding" is a bit vague and can set unrealistic expectations (the next day?) and an unhappy customer.

The bride can take all the time she wants as far as I'm concerned... the longer she takes the better I'll be at post and the better her photos will turn out...

Perhaps I should add like a 90 day after the bride selects her photos clause or some kind...
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Messages
923
Location
Southern NH
Stuck how? If I have yet to put any time/work into the job, then no harm no foul. Sure, I might have wasted an hour or so meeting with them, but that's not an issue for me. I'm a full time stay at home dad. If I was a full time professional wedding photographer, I would conduct things differently. :smile:

I think this has as much to do with "lost opportunity" as with anything else. Now, it might not be a problem now, but why have to keep changing your contract if you start getting multiple requests for the same day and the one you committed to canceled on you at the last minute? What if you bought a piece of gear that you thought was important to have for the event, counting on the funds from the gig to pay for/towards it, and now are stuck paying for it altogether or returning it (assuming no restocking fee). I'm sure you could come up with other scenarios.

I suppose you can forgive the obligation if you felt like it (or they rescheduled or something), but why not have a safety measure in there to cover yourself -- especially if it turns out that the reason for the cancellation was unreasonable.
 
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
Messages
5,262
Location
NJ
The bride can take all the time she wants as far as I'm concerned... the longer she takes the better I'll be at post and the better her photos will turn out

But it works the other way around as well - what does the bride expect from YOU. If the contract states that you will deliver "proofs" within 4 weeks after the wedding you will not have to deal with the bride calling you every day "are they done yet?" and she will have a reasonable expectation on when the pictures are ready, and won't complain two weeks after the wedding day that the pictures still aren't done yet (I mean how hard is it, all you need to do is copy the images from the camera to a hard drive and burn a dvd :rolleyes:)
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
1,431
Location
Alaska
Removed It supersedes all prior and simultaneous agreements between the parties.

Changed "The only way to change or add to this agreement is to do so in writing, and providing the document is signed by all the relevant parties." to "All amendments to this contract shall in writing."

Removed "reject" from first paragraph since Clause 2 addresses cancellation.

Changed "then" to "than" in clause 1

Changed "that guest photography is not permitted" to "that flash photography is not permitted" in clause 7

Changed "refund on account of differences" to "refund due to differences" and changed "in artistic preferences over the final images." to "in artistic preferences of the final images." in clause 9

Removed "; and to copyright the same." since Copyright is immediately assigned to the photographer once the image is saved to card.

Replaced limited copyright ownership to "license to use" for specific purposes and changed "transferred" to" granted" in clause 13

Changed "And, I certify" to "I also certify" and changed "received a complete copy" to "received a completed signed copy" at the end
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
Messages
2,434
Location
Bournemouth, UK
I don't understand why you don't want to have a retainer up front, even if you don't care if they cancel w/o charge I would think a retainer is standard (they are paying retainers to places like the wedding venue etc) - makes no sense not to have one - i.e. see no advantage in not having one

The CLIENT listed above holds exclusive rights to approve, reject and retain the PHOTOGRAPHER’s services, regardless of the actual payee for said services
- again in english, can you say what this means?

don't know why you would include RAW files, most couples don't need them, if you believe you have no responsilibity to backup wedding images (these things are valuable to the couple!) then say that,. e.g. images once delivered are the responsibility of the client or whatever and photographer will not be responsible in the event..
 

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