20 Things to Check For in Your Wedding Photography Contract
So you've done your research and picked the perfect professional photographer to document your wedding. But you still have one important task to take care of to officially book them: your wedding photography contract. Getting all of the details of the agreement in writing will help prevent any miscommunication and ensure you get the photos you want and the services you're paying for. But between engagement sessions, day-of services and post-wedding pictures, it's a lot to keep track of—which is why we put together this helpful guide. As you carefully read over your wedding photography contract, make sure all of the following standard info is included. Once you know all your bases are covered, sign on the line and have your photographer do the same. Then, make a copy of the legal document for your files, so you can easily consult the contract as your wedding approaches. Ready to get started? Here's everything you need to know include in your wedding photography contract (plus some FAQs you might have).
Do you need a wedding photography contract?
In short, yes. We recommend signing contracts with all of your wedding vendors so nothing goes awry on your wedding day. Given the money and time invested in these services, you'll want to have all the details confirmed in a binding agreement. Since photography is such a huge part of your wedding day, you'll have extra peace of mind knowing everything is already sorted out ahead of the big day. Plus, it will help the photographer know exactly what you, the client, are expecting from them. Win-win!
What should a wedding photography contract include?
Wedding photography contracts are unique because they involve more than just the day-of details. You'll need to talk to your photographer about what happens after the wedding too. Ask them when the wedding photo proofs will be available to view online, how to download them and how much it will cost to re-download down the line. You'll also definitely need to discuss the copyright details so everyone is clear on where they can share them. Of course, you'll want to cover the cost of the services as well as any extra charges you may be subject to (like going over time, for example). Finally, ensure your wedding photography contract has a cancellation clause in case of emergencies. That way, in the event of an emergency, you'll know exactly what's going to happen (and how much money will be involved.)
Standard Wedding Photography Contract
Before you sign anything, make sure all of this basic information is included. Then, if you need to make any additions based on personal circumstances, feel free to add on. See the standard information to include in your wedding photographer contract, below.
Name and Contact Information
Just like grade school again: Make sure your names and your photographer's name are included in the contract. Then, ensure your contact information (phone number and email) is listed in case either of you need to get in touch with the other person.
Name of the Photographer(s) Who Will Be Shooting Your Wedding
Sometimes wedding photography services have several pros available to work. To avoid any surprises on your wedding day, make sure you know exactly who is going to be working. If the photographer is bringing assistants, make sure that's included in the contract so you don't have any unexpected problems with the venue.
When and Where
Write down your wedding date so it's concretely confirmed. Then, include the start time(s), end time(s), and the exact number of hours you'd like them to work. Finally, ensure you list the specific addresses for every location your photographer will be expected to go to (your getting-ready suite, your ceremony venue and your morning-after brunch, for example).
Wedding Moments to be Captured
Now that you've established where the pictures will be taken (and the accompanying time frame), it's time to get more specific. Include every wedding moment you want the photographer to cover, such as getting ready, the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. That way, your pro knows exactly what to expect and can plan a timeline for all the shots.
Detailed Shot List You've Agreed To
Time for the nitty gritty. Here's where you should include your wishlist of pictures. Pro tip: Photographers usually have a standard wedding photography shot list that they use. However, if there are certain pictures you'd like to take (a picture with your close relative or a close-up of a special detail), make sure you include it here.
Next, confirm the equipment the photographer's going to use. List out the number of cameras that will be used and which formats the photographer will use (digital, film or both).
Film Camera Information (If Applicable)
If you're opting for film photography, include the details here. That means the number of rolls to be shot, whether they're going to be in color or black and white, what type of film is being used and the cost per additional roll.
Like your band or DJ, your photographer will need to eat and to take a break. We recommend scheduling it during dinner to avoid missing any amazing dance floor shots (or if you're having a second shooter, ask them to alternate breaks).
Dress Code (Optional)
This isn't necessary, but if it's important to you, it's worth including. If you have a certain color scheme or dress code that you'd like the photographer to adhere to, ensure it's included in the contract. If you don't have a preference, it's still a good idea to talk about it so you know what to expect on your wedding day.
Now it's time to think past your wedding day. In your wedding photography contract, discuss the number of proofs you'll receive and how you'll receive them (via email or text, for example). You'll also want to include the date the proofs will be ready and how long they'll be available to view online (though we're sure you'll be ready to look at them ASAP).
Confirm when and how you'll receive your order so there are no surprises. For example, if the photographer tells you upfront that it will take two weeks to get you your pictures, then you won't be worried something went wrong after you place your order. You'll also want to include any other package or delivery fees and other accompanying details.
Next up: copyright law. In the contract, specify who owns the photos and if there are any restrictions on posting or distributing the pictures on social media or elsewhere. Pro tip: Include stipulations for where your photographer is allowed to share your photos, especially if you'd prefer they aren't used for promotional materials, commercial use or submitted to magazines or websites without your permission.
While these aren't necessary, we highly recommend checking to see if these are included. If your wedding photography pro has a non-disparagement clause, that means you aren't allowed to leave negative reviews or comments. If you don't check to see that this disclaimer is included, you could be facing legal troubles.
Time to focus on the pricing. We recommend getting the cost itemized if possible. That way, you can see the exact breakdown of your budget and what your money is getting you.
While it's best to stick to the allotted time (and your confirmed timeline), things happen. If your pro has to work overtime, put the price in the contact.
If you decide to order additional prints later, get that cost in writing right now. That way, you know exactly what to expect should you want extra copies of your gorgeous wedding pictures.
Deposit Amount and Date Paid
Typically, you put down your deposit (also known as a retainer fee) when you book the photographers. But it's always a great idea to keep track of every exchange on your contract. Include the deposit amount you paid and the date you paid it so there are no mix-ups down the road.
Remaining Balance and Due Date
Get clear on the payment terms here. Double check to make sure the remaining balance, deposit amount and total cost all align with each other before signing anything. Then, confirm the amount left and the date you need to pay it by. If you're using a payment schedule, get all of the dates and amounts in writing right now.
Cancellation, Rescheduling and Refund Policy
If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it's that things out of our control happen all the time. If for some reason you need to cancel, cover the protocol now—and get it confirmed in writing. Discuss the pro's cancellation policy, rescheduling policy and refund policy so you're crystal clear on what happens should you need to postpone or cancel your celebration.
Non-Discrimination Policy or Ally Pledge
You should feel safe and supported by your wedding pros. One great way to ensure this happens is by looking for a non-discrimination policy or ally pledge in your wedding photography contract. If they don't have one, it's worth asking if they can include it (if it would make you feel more secure). You deserve to celebrate your love story no matter what it looks like.