When we first started out in the business, we knew we needed a contract. But beyond that, we really didn’t know much about it. So we bought a generic wedding photography contract from another photographer and started using that.
Over time, we learned many lessons. We learned there are truly some things you should have in a contract. And we learned how to cover yourself in the greatest way possible. Here are 7 tips to help you as you develop your own version.
1. In many cases, the contract will go beyond one page. While you may only need signatures at the end of the contract itself, provide spaces on every page for the bride, groom and photographer to initial that they have read and agreed with the terms.
2. In some cases, your clients will be out of town, and you’ll handle everything by email/snail mail. Never send a contract through Word – always create a PDF file, or send it through snail mail. If you send it in a workable file format, the bride and groom can make changes to your contract at will.
3. Include all the details of the event: bride and groom names, wedding date, location and times, and a description of the services you will be providing. Make sure you have both the bride and groom sign off on the contract.
4. Consider adding clauses for price increases. Wedding photography can often be booked a year or more in advance, and can sometimes take months for the couple to place their final order. That’s a long time as a photographer to hold your prices steady. Make sure you add a policy for how long you’ll keep prices the same, and what the policy is for changing out the pricing structure.
5. Include a model release. Make sure you list out everything you will be using the photographs for in the future, including marketing possibilities. If you post images online for the world to see, make sure your release states it.
6. Be very specific for payment methods. In some areas it’s important to word your contracts correctly for deposits and final payments. Make sure you include statements about nonrefundable deposits, and how you collect the fees throughout the process.
7. Start by writing up your own contract; and then bring it in to a lawyer for final review. This saved us hundreds of dollars over the years. In general, once you get a good working copy of a contract, it’s easy to add a few clauses here and there. It gives the lawyer a starting point, and allows them to spend their time editing instead of starting from scratch. It also gives them a basis for things you require, and allows them to add the legal jargon to make sure it holds up in court if you ever need that behind you.