November 23, 2022

7 Things You NEED in Your Wedding Photography Contracts

When it comes to a wedding photography contract, there are a LOT of things to consider. 😅 

This is a high-dollar investment your clients are making, and a BIG commitment on your part as the photographer. Everyone has to be in total agreement on what’s expected and what’s going to be delivered at the completion of the contract. 

So let’s just be honest: It can be completely nerve-wracking. 

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’ve woken up in a sweat from a nightmare that I’ve forgotten my gear or showed up to the wrong location… all of which can ACTUALLY happen!
I have experienced many unexpected things during my career, and I’ve heard enough nightmare stories from other photographers to know… the contract is there to protect you!

Read on for 7 MUST-HAVES in your wedding photography contract.

1. It Should Be Lawyer-Approved

If you have a contract you’ve written yourself or one you’ve purchased, it’s important to connect with a lawyer and have them approve your contract. 

We have contracts for weddings, portraits, or both in our education shop that have already been approved by multiple lawyers, so we’ve saved you that step if you’d like to go that route!
But if you decide to write or purchase elsewhere, I’d highly recommend getting it lawyer-approved so you can rest easy knowing you are legally covered.

2. Opt-Out Clause

There should be some sort of a clause in your contract that allows you to opt out, or exit, the contract if something doesn’t go right. 🚫

This is something that we definitely have in our contracts. We try to ensure in the interview process that every client we work with is a good fit for us, but trust me: sometimes things happen and it might become clear a client isn’t the best fit for you. 

And that’s okay! An opt-out clause protects you in that situation.

3. Artistic Clause

Another clause we have in our contracts is an artistic clause. This lets our client know that we’re artists and there will be artistic decisions we will need to make with their photos. The artistic clause ensures the client agrees to that. 🎨

We’re always trying to experiment with gear, mediums, and so on to further our art. We let clients know this ahead of time, and contractually, they agree to that. I highly recommend you include this in your contracts as well!

3. Cancellations and Reschedules Clause

You’ll want your contract to address cancellations and reschedules, in the cases of:

  • Personal matters of the client
    • Breakups
    • Postponement
    • Anything else!
  • Act of God
    • Weather catastrophe
    • Pandemic
    • Anything out of their/your control

We saw the importance of this during the start of the 2020 pandemic. This is a contract clause that EVERYONE should have. 

It lets the client know what will happen if something arises, and lets YOU as the business owner know how you’re going to handle that moving forward – one less thing for you to think about when it’s already outlined for you! 👍

4. Copywriting Clause

Be sure to include a clause that addresses copywriting and promotional use. 

For example, we use many of our images of clients on social media, and we have had our images featured in publications before. You need permission in order to do these things. That’s where this clause comes in!
If there is a client that does NOT want their images featured, they will see that in the contract and you’ll be able to address those matters upfront, before you ever begin working together.

5. Scheduling

When it comes to scheduling, I let clients know in advance anything they should know about scheduling in their contract. 

This is especially important where sessions are concerned, such as:

  • Engagement sessions
  • Bridal sessions
  • Rehearsal dinners

You want to outline how these events will go and how it will look for your company. 

Questions you might answer in the contract could be: 

  • Will you only photograph sessions in the city where you live? 
  • Do you have weekend fees? 
  • Will you photograph outside of business hours?
  • Anything else concerning sessions!

Another aspect of scheduling to address is payment scheduling. When a client signs a contract with you, they want to know when the payments are due. 

Some examples of payment schedules are:

  • 3-payment tier structure where they pay a retainer, and then split the final payment in two
  • 2 payments at different times 
  • All up front

Whatever you decide, you will want that detailed in the contract. 

We use a client management system called Dubsado to help us manage our payment schedules. Dubsado stores our contracts, allows us to sign contracts digitally, and will automatically record our client payment schedules and invoicing (with automatic reminders sent to the client!). 
If you’re looking for a system and want to try Dubsado or learn more, you can use the affiliate code CatherineG for 20% off.

6. Liability Clause

Liability is a HUGE thing you want to address in the contract. You have to answer the question, “What happens if…?”

You have to have a clause to protect you from the worst. There are things we don’t even want to say MIGHT happen… but you must address them, because they could!

For example, if camera cards or images are lost, stolen, or damaged, what will the company do? How will they handle that moving forward? 

Answer these questions in your liability clause so you and your clients are both protected if the worst case scenario arises.

7. Signature Space

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth saying! Include signature spaces for you, the client, and the dates for each.
We create and store our contracts in Dubsado, and you can actually digitally sign the contracts there, too! Dubsado will record our IP addresses, which is especially great for destination clients… we can sign wherever we are!

Need More Help?

If you are wanting a done-for-you contract to save you the stress of creating your own, we have wedding and portrait contracts in our education shop, and other great resources for you to check out! 

Maybe you feel good about your contract, but you need MAJOR help with the payment schedule section. You know pricing is important, but you have no idea HOW to set your pricing. If that sounds like you, I’ve created a Pricing Guide to help you get started!

Do you ever struggle to price your products? Do you use other people’s pricing without really being sure WHY or if those prices are right for you? 😓

I created my Pricing Guide to help you: 

  • Understand the WHY behind your base prices 
  • Decide what to charge for your photography 
  • Cover your expenses to remain profitable and sustainable 

Check it out below ⤵️