August 4, 2022

The Wedding Photography Contract Guide for Couples

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As you plan your wedding day, there are many decisions to make. vendors to talk to and seating plans to revise over and over again! After booking your significant date and the initial venue details, your attention will likely turn to finding a photographer whose work matches your style, taste and budget.

No matter which of the many available photographers you choose to be a part of your celebration, it’s important to thoroughly review carefully the Wedding Photography Contract. Always read the full contract, and ask if you understand some clauses or terms.

A detailed yet clear contract is important to prevent any misunderstandings further down the road when dealing with your photographer. The contract should include all of the products and services you pay for along with clear timelines, costs, deliverables and any provisions for special circumstances.

Working in the photography industry, I have seen our share of great and the not so great contracts. They range from simply too basic to massive unfair contracts meant to protect only to photographer and not you, the couple paying for the services.

Below are some tips to better help you understand what goes into a wedding photography contract.

All those little details.

Very crucial to ensure all of the names, phone numbers, dates, addresses and venue details are highlighted in the wedding photography contract.

Having accurate information makes the contract valid. Pay special attention to your actual wedding date which should be clearly and fully listed, Especially the year. As you can imagine booking a wedding for this year while accidentally including next year’s date in the contract can be pretty disastrous!

How long will you be with us?

During the consultation, The photographer breakdown the wedding timeline and advises the hours needed. Make sure that the contract includes the number of photographers and hours of coverage. As a quick guideline, most weddings require between 8 to 12 hours of continuous coverage.

A good contract also includes a reference to what happens if you would like to have the photographers stay longer. For example, Our contract notes that we are happy to stay to provide additional coverage for $300 per hour upon confirmation.

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Are all of those images for me?

Although a photographer will shoot thousands of images at your wedding you do not want to receive all of them. Imagine how long it would take to even look through all of them! Many will also look like duplicates. The photographer selects and edits the best images, including key shots, in their unique style.

However, your contract should include the minimum number of images which you will receive after the wedding. Often this minimum commitment to the number of images is based on the number of photographers and the length of the total coverage.

As a rough guideline, my minimum number of images as noted in my contract is about 50 per hour of coverage. This means that for 11 hours of coverage, you would receive a minimum of 550 images. In practice, I typically provide about 50-100 additional images beyond my contract minimum. I simply want to make sure that your wedding story is told properly without keeping a strict limit to the number of images.

When do I get my images?

No matter how many images you are expecting, having a clear deliverable timeline is important. I have heard of horror stories of couples waiting months without receiving their photos. Crazy! For reference, my contract clearly states that the images are delivered within 42 days of the wedding day which I think is fair.

What is watermarking anyway?

Watermarks are a form of visual copyright placed directly on the photo. When viewed or printed such images showcase the photographer’s logo or copyright information. This is not ideal for your final prints or digital slide shows. Some photographers remove the watermark only after you pay an additional fee for the digital images.

I believe that you should have the right to print and view your photos without a watermark. In my contract, I note that the images which I provide are not watermarked. I strongly suggest that you make sure the same is true for any other contract which you may be reviewing.

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Image rights.

Unless stated otherwise in your contract the photographer retains the right to the photos, however, the people in the photograph, like you, .have the right to your self-image. Therefore a photographer can only use a photo with your image for any marketing or commercial purpose, with your signed model release consent often included in the contract. It is always wise to ask the photographer to better explain their contract picture rights and the model release portion if you are concerned about the use of your image.

Remember of course that you do not have to sign anything you don’t want to. If you do not want your photos on the photographer’s marketing website, make sure this condition is outlined in the contract.

A matter of backup.

Most photographers will keep the photos from your big day backed up on their server for a limited time. This is of course great in case you lose your photos.
Some photographers charge an additional fee for keeping your photos safe beyond the initial period. Make sure that the contract specifies how long your photos are kept on the photographer’s server.

This can be a lifesaver if your favourite nephew accidentally deletes your wedding image folder before you have time to place it on a cloud server!

In my case, Everglow Photography keeps your images backed up for 180 days after I provide them to you. This is included in my contract.

Is that your photographer?

Knowing who specifically will be your photographer on your wedding day should be an important consideration. Beware of contracts which include the ability to outsource the work to any photographer in or even outside of the studio company which you are hiring. Do you want a stranger photographing your first kiss on your wedding day?

In my contract I do have a provision and a responsibility to find and assign a different professional photographer but only in extreme health emergency-related circumstances. Thankfully I have never needed such a substitution.

What do we get again?

Your wedding photography contract should include clearly what you will receive in consideration for your payment. If an engagement session is included it should be listed here. Any albums, prints, consultation meetings, web galleries, site checks, USB-delivered files and anything else you may think is part of your package or service provided should be listed in detail.

Planes, trains and automobiles.

Most photographers do not charge for local travel. However, if your wedding is out of town or even on a different continent make sure that your contract clearly states travel costs which you may be responsible for.

Personally, as I love to travel, I often charge much less for travel expenses than other photographers since I look to combine my out-of-province or out-of-country weddings with my adventure vacations.

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What, how and when do we pay?

A deposit ensures that the photographer no longer accepts any bookings scheduled for the day of your wedding. The first deposit is made at the time of the contract signing. An additional deposit or a final payment is often due just before the wedding. If you need to amend the deposit structure for any reason, talk to the photographer.

Verify this is clearly outlined in the Wedding contract and that all amounts are correct before you sign.

In addition to the payment structure, ensure clear outlines of all available payment methods. For example, credit cards, and Paypal are accepted options.

Everyone wants to be a photographer.

Most contracts include a clause prohibiting other photographers from getting in the way of the main photographer during the wedding day. The purpose of the clause is not to prevent your family from taking pictures but protects the photographer’s ability to capture your expected images. In most cases, this clause applies to other professional photographers and not your grandparents using their Instagram during the ceremony. Of course, please speak to the photographer if you have any doubts before agreeing to any such clause.

Indemnification clause? Sounds Complicated!

Many wedding photography contracts include a special section meant to protect the photographer from liability caused by acts of god, extreme sickness, subjective view of the photographer’s style or editing process, equipment failure, onsite property damage, personal injury etc.
The full extent of this clause varies from photographer to photographer. Although this clause is pretty standard across the industry, please read and understand it fully asking the photographer any questions you may have before signing.

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Cancellation. It does happen.

In very rare and special cases you may need to cancel or move your wedding date. Does the photographer provide a comprehensive cancellation policy? Is the entire deposit lost or only the initial deposit? Establishing this policy upfront will prevent confusion and frustration in the future. Ensure the cancellation policy is clearly stated in the wedding contract.

What do I need to do?

Many contracts note it is the responsibility of the client to obtain any needed permission, permits, or any of the related costs, to photograph at a certain venue.

In certain cases, it may be easier for the photographer to obtain permission directly. In this case, the clause should reflect the change. This brings me to my last contract tip, negotiation and amendments.

Talk to the photographer.

Ensure your photographer discusses the wedding contract details that can be negotiated, added, amended or removed altogether. Most photographers will listen to your concerns and will consider making the changes to the contract. All changes must be written and initiated.

A great Wedding Photography contract ensures mutual understanding, protection, and expectations for both parties.

Simply put, I view My Everglow Photography contract as a simple confirmation that everyone is on the same page.


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Everglow Photography – Voted as Best Wedding Photographer in Toronto, Canada.

International Wedding Photographer for Adventurous Couples.