When couples find their wedding photographer, they want to move straight to the fun stuff like engagement photos and choosing bridal portrait locations. But reviewing and signing a wedding photography contract is an essential next step.
A wedding photography contract is a binding agreement between a couple and their photographer that outlines the photographer’s responsibilities, deliverables, and policies, including rescheduling or payment timing.
With a signed contract, photographers can rest assured the couple will follow through on their payments because a completed and signed contract is legally binding. Legalities and fine print may sound stuffy, but wedding photography contracts, as with all vendor contracts, should not be overlooked. We consulted with Samantha Clarke, a photographer, and former lawyer, to highlight the ins and outs of wedding photography contracts.
Contracts aren’t glamorous, and legalese hardly elicits wedding-planning butterflies. That’s why they’re put on the backburner as exciting topics like scheduling engagement photo sessions take precedence. But Clarke urges couples and her wedding photographer peers to take these documents seriously.
In the excitement of planning and preparing for a wedding, photographers sometimes forget the importance of having a solid contract in place. The contract outlines expectations, so if things go wrong later, it’s great to have that document to look back at. It’s a way for photographers and couples to protect themselves.
Contract importance makes sense in theory, but do photographers or couples actually use their contracts? In short, yes. According to the contract platform Wedding Industry Law, couples inquire about suing their wedding photographers pretty frequently. The most common disputes arise from three issues:
Breach of contract: when a photographer doesn’t provide the agreed-upon services.
Misrepresentation: when the photographer promises, say, a certain type of photo but doesn’t deliver.
Misappropriation: when a photographer uses a photo of a person sans authorization.
Without a detailed contract, it’s tough to prove a photographer didn’t follow through on their agreed-upon services. That could leave couples high and dry without the photos they’ve been dreaming of. But contracts aren’t just for potential lawsuits. Contracts help photographers clarify their roles and responsibilities for the wedding, which helps clear up confusion before the big day. Sometimes the couple doesn’t fully understand the photography industry (and that’s okay), so the contract will outline the details of what to expect
“It’s important to have everything written down so the couples can refer to it.”
While photography styles, packages, and poses vary, most wedding photography contracts look similar. A wedding photography contract should contain the following details:
Biographical and wedding-day information: Include the names, addresses, and contact information for both parties. But don’t stop there. It’s also great to have specific locations like the ceremony address, the venue name, and address, and of course the wedding date—the month, day, and year.
Selected package details: Simply stating “highlights package” is not enough. The contract needs to be specific to prevent any confusion. It should list everything included in the selected package, with specifics such as “eight to 10 hours of coverage” instead of “full-day coverage”.
Agreed-upon payment: The package information should also note important monetary details like payment schedule, late fees, and deposits. Be specific about money, and note if there is a nonrefundable retainer fee. Many photographers require a 50 percent deposit upon contract signing, with the final payment due 30 days before the wedding. Some break it up even further. It’s up to the photographer what feels comfortable.
Deliverables timeline: For a wedding photographer, the work is only half-finished at the end of the wedding day. The final product is delivered weeks, and in some cases months, after. This can be a point of frustration for eager couples, so it’s important to make the product timeline clear. Answers to questions like “when will you get the album?” and “how will it be delivered?” are important. Sometimes brides and grooms get so caught up then go on their honeymoon that they forget about the additional deliverables.
Payment method: It may be convenient, but credit-card payment is rarely accepted by photographers. That’s because the extra fees add up, which means income lost for wedding photographers. Payment requirements should be clearly stated alongside the agreed-upon pay. Does the photographer take check only? Do they accept credit card payments if the client covers the fee?
Rescheduling parameters: The COVID-19 pandemic forced many wedding photographers to make their rescheduling and cancellation policies clearer. This is something no one expected, so a lot of clients are wondering if there’s leeway to reschedule or cancel their weddings. The contract should thoroughly include the photographer’s cancellation or rescheduling policy, such as the agreement that they can reschedule within 90 days of the wedding if something were to happen.
Overtime hours: When couples and photographers sign their contract, it’s months and in some cases over a year before the actual wedding. Brides and grooms have no idea what the day-of schedule will look like, so it’s hard to nail down exact hours. That’s why most wedding photographers steer clear of “full-day coverage” within their contracts (unless it’s specified with a phrase like “up to 12 hours”). Make sure the contract includes how long the photographer will work, and the cost of additional hours if they need to stick around longer.
Copyright specifications: When couples receive their wedding image files, they want to share them with the world. Instagram and Facebook are usually fine (it helps the photographer with word-of-mouth marketing) but some photographers say newspaper announcements and magazine submissions are a no-go. Many photographers are reasonable and assume you are going to print your photos and put them up on your wall, and that’s totally within the right couples have with a personal license. But sometimes a contract stipulates that a couple is not entitled to submit to a publication without the photographer’s permission, so make sure to look out for this before sharing photos widely.”
Model release: On the flip side, some couples don’t want their images used in a photographer’s promotional materials at all. A lot of couples expect their photographs will be on social media, but some don’t want that, especially if children are involved. A model release permission is something the photographer and couple should talk about. This should be outlined in the contract so later on the bride and groom are not upset in the way their images are used.
Securing permits: Some popular photo locations require pre-approved permits, but who’s responsible for actually reaching out and making that happen? Speak to who gets the permit in the contract. It’s important to get ahead of this so you don’t get kicked out in the middle of bridal portraits.
A meal clause: Brides and grooms are responsible for providing meals for reception vendors like the photographer and band, but typically this only applies to event coverage that lasts beyond a set amount of hours. The wedding photography contract should clarify this timeframe, as well as how many meals will be required.
Is the contract valid without both signatures?
In the flurry of wedding planning, it’s easy to forget to request the counter-signed version of the contract from your photographer. The photographer is usually on top of this, but wedding season chaos can lead even the most organized photographers to forget this step. But without both signatures, the contract won’t hold up.
Should a contract for destination weddings include specific details?
Destination weddings are a dream for many photographers, but they do require thorough contracts. Destination wedding photography contract should include who pays for travel, which travel-related costs are covered (such as checked luggage), and accommodation specifications.
Another equally important destination wedding photography consideration? Whether or not the photographer can legally work there. Some countries require you to have a visa to legally work there. It’s always good to have those conversations before signing the contract so the couple can determine if the photographer has ample familiarity with the requirements of different nations.
Most brides have never modeled and gotten professional pictures done before. So having your wedding day, which is one of the biggest days of your life, to be the first day you are in front of a camera can be extremely nerve-wracking. Especially if you don’t know what to do in front of the camera.
Sadly, a lot of photographers don’t understand that it’s not just about the beautiful compositions, backdrops, and even moments. Though those are all important, it is an absolute necessity to be a master in the art of posing to ensure the bride AND the groom look absolutely dazzling on the best day of their life.
I came across this study that mentioned that close to 40% of brides had regrets when it came to their wedding photos.
“Wow!” I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe that percentage was so high!
I started digging deeper to really see the reasons why these brides we’re unhappy, and this is what I found…
1. “Our photographer got drunk, and you can see the photos in the gallery getting blurrier and blurrier as you scroll through.”
2. “He just really didn’t seem to know what he was doing! He didn’t guide us during the portrait session and we were just standing there awkwardly!”
3. “She only captured moments of my husband and me, but not of our close friends and loved ones. That was really disappointing.”
And that was just the tip of the iceberg…
I take pride in my work, and after seeing almost half of brides out there being extremely unhappy with the results they were getting from other so called professional photographers, I couldn’t let my brides say the same negative things about their wedding photography experiences.
I’m going to share with you as much value in my expertise in posing wedding couples so you can ensure you look your best and have no regrets for your special day.
Posing is an ART.
But understandably it’s an art that a lot of couples are nervous about, and SADLY that a lot of so-called “professional” photographers actually don’t know how to direct correctly. So if you happen to have a photographer who doesn’t know how to pose you with expertise and intention, what are a few things you should remember?
I call these THE FOUNDATION of posing:
1. Imaginary String: First off you want to ensure that your spine is straight, but NOT stiff and unnatural. I often ask my couples to act as if there is a string on the back/top of their head pull up. Have a straight spine and natural curve in your lumbar (lower back).
2. Shoulders: Push your shoulders 1 inch back. This will further bring confidence and beauty to your pose.
3. Weight Distribution: You want your weight distribution to be uneven or else your pose will look unnatural. There are two ways to do this. Either cross one leg over the other or put more weight on your back leg.
I could write a book on how to pose hands and eyes… it’s the photographer’s job to not just “memorize” poses, but to learn how to “build” a pose for our brides and grooms.
But here a few pointers so you’ll know what to do on your wedding day.
The hands and arms can be used to lead attention to the right places. With this cigarette pose, it leads the viewers’ attention to the dress and also to her face that is looking at the distance. The pose itself can feel unnatural but is very natural and beautiful in portraits. With her other arm, we could either make it out of sight behind her or where it is across her waist also looks very natural.
When you hold something it naturally gives your hands something to do but also brings attention to that object. Here the bride is holding her dress which also is a beautiful way to lead attention and show it off.
In this pose, she is also doing the cigarette pose which for this particular case worked out beautifully. If there is nothing to hold and I see a pose may look better with hands and arms NOT straight down, you can place one or two hands at the waist.
Having your elbow at more than a 90-degree angle gives a more elegant pose than having it at 90 degrees or more.
Where you look can dramatically change the feel of the portrait. As you can see in the first photo I had the bride look away, giving an almost candid feel of the portrait. But no matter where you look, you want to avoid only seeing the “white” part of your eye.
If you pay very close attention to the movement of the camera you’ll get a portrait like so…
When you focus on something very hard, it triggers the Parietal Lobe in the brain. This brings out a VERY captivating look in the eyes.
Photographers who don’t know how to pose the hands and arms often give brides and grooms what is called the floating head (what you don’t want). It’s when you have a close-up shot of the face, but no hands and arms in the photo.
You can use hands and fingers to lead attention to where you want with a close-up. This can enhance a close-up portrait in a really beautiful way.
So you’ve just learned: The Foundations of Posing, How to Make Your Portraits NOT Cheesy, & Posing Your Hands and Eyes
So you won’t be close to 40% of brides who have regrets with their wedding photographer. The crazy thing is… at this point you may know more about posing than most “professional” wedding photographers out there lol.
As a bonus, I’ll teach you the correct way to WALK in front of the camera.
Remember how I talked about weight distribution for your portraits? It’s the same thing for walking. If you walk normally, it’s possible your portraits could look like a penguin walking.
So for the camera, what you want to do is walk as if you are walking on a straight line under you.
This will change the weight distribution in your hips making them look much more flattering in the portrait.
No one, absolutely no one knew how devastating Covid would be. Now it seems like our whole world is working around Covid-19, especially in the wedding industry. I’m all about making your planning less stressful for my brides. So here are my tips for planning a Covid-19 wedding.
At some point in time, big weddings with huge guest lists became some sort of a sign for ‘status’. That status means nothing to Covid because it literally touches everyone from rich to poor. So change your mindset and create a new range of expectations for your day.
Who is telling you that your wedding now has to be in a backyard, can’t be formal or black tie, that it is now an ‘elopement’ because it is under 100 guests?
You can still have a beautiful, elegant, wedding day with gorgeous flowers and rentals, and a photo booth, you just may need to lower your guest list to achieve those things. Bonus: by lowering your guest list, you’ll save money! Since when is saving money a negative thing?
This is crucial. My best advice to all current planning couples is to make a guest list that is no more than 50-75 people (including them).
Why? Because that is typically the core group that would include their wedding party, their spouses, parents, close family members. The people you are probably already quarantining with. This is an achievable number that everyone can agree to because the fact of the matter is, if you want to get married on the date you have chosen, you have to make some sacrifices.
This is quite literally your get out of jail free card.
You know those coworkers you feel like you ‘have’ to invite? NOPE. Your parents’ friends who you only see every summer? NOPE. Your future husband’s weirdo college buddies that he talks about nonstop but you haven’t actually met? NOPE.
STOP putting so much pressure on yourself to match these unrealistic ideals of what weddings ‘were’ and START setting yourself up for success and create what realistic ideas your wedding will be.
This may seem like a no-brainer but the truth is, couples have been sitting on the idea of postponing their weddings until it is too late OR have been avoiding the conversation of ‘what will my wedding look like because we want to move forward?’.
Having this conversation doesn’t mean you are giving in, it means you are preparing yourself for any possible outcome. You will become so much strong mentally and emotionally once you start allowing yourself to have these conversations.
Contacting your venue needs to be your highest priority because they are like the bus driver. They open the door to let you on and open it to let you off. Click here to find out what questions you should be asking your venue in this instance.
The easiest way to do that is to include a ‘Covid Card’ in your invitation suite. It can explain what steps and precautions the venue has implemented, how you and your future spouse are feeling, and of course encouragement.
If you are working with a custom stationery designer, lucky you! They will be your biggest ally. With your smaller guest list, request fewer invitation suites. If you have already paid a deposit and the new expectations mean you will be spending less than anticipated, ask them to utilize those funds in a couple of different ways.
There is a “chain of command” when contacting your vendors and I encourage you to move from your highest investment first. Think about it this way: talk to those you *must have* for your wedding day to be a success first.
PS: Please understand that many of your wedding vendors are small business owners and will not have the ability to return any non-refundable retainers that you agreed to upon signing their contract.
Since this is most likely the first time you’ve had bridal portraits taken, you may be looking for a few tips on how to prepare for your session. Having shot many, many bridal portraits, I am happy to share some insight and bridal session tips!
You will probably have a handful of fittings that you will need to schedule around. Make sure your bridal shop (or whoever is taking care of the alterations) knows that you are planning bridal portraits. We will need to schedule at least 3-4 weeks in advance to allow plenty of time for editing and print orders.
Location is a crucial part of scheduling and planning your bridal session. Here in the Dallas area, there are many beautiful outdoor locations for portraits! However, you will need to consider your overall look as well as the limitations of your dress. For example, if you are wearing a long cathedral-style train, it doesn’t make sense to take your bridal portraits outside in a field somewhere.
Both outdoor and indoor locations can be stunning for bridal portraits. It is important to remember that many places require permits or rental fees to take photos on their property. With that being said, many wedding venues will allow you to schedule your bridal session there at no extra cost as part of your booking package.
Use this opportunity to schedule a trial for your hair and makeup. You will want to be sure to contact your artist(s) in advance to get on the books, as they fill up quickly. Keep in mind that your makeup may look a bit darker than expected, but the color and contrast will look great on camera. Once you see your final images, you can discuss any changes that need to be made (if any!) with your hair/makeup team.
It’s a great idea to bring any accessories and jewelry you plan on wearing for your wedding day. That way, you can ensure that everything looks cohesive and just the way you want it! Try to keep it all in one bag for easy transport.
Contact your wedding day florist and let them know you are taking bridal portraits. They will be able to provide a bouquet that matches the one you will carry down the aisle! Be sure to keep the bouquet in water until you arrive at your portrait location.
I recommend that you bring 1-2 people with you to your bridal session. This can be a family member (like your mom or sister) or even a bridesmaid. I usually enlist their help holding and fluffing your dress or carrying your flowers/bag. Whatever you do, be sure that the person you bring is someone who is uplifting and energetic so that you actually enjoy yourself!
I always suggest that brides bring a snack or two and plenty of water. It is easy to underestimate how much energy it takes posing and staying focused with all of the attention on you! Staying hydrated and keeping hunger pangs away will help you feel (and therefore look) your best!
Most of all, try your best to relax and have fun! It is a blast having an hour all to yourself while feeling like a model! Remember, you don’t need to know how to pose – your photographer will walk you through positioning and posing so that you look your absolute best! All you need to do is smile and be yourself!
The wedding planning process has changed significantly in 2020. I’m here to share some good news and give you the tips that I’ve learned over the past few months.
Who am I? I’m Katarina and I’m a wedding photography in York, PA serving all of Central Pennsylvania. I’ve been working with my couples to re-plan their weddings and along the way, I’ve learned a number of things.
For the past number of years, I’ve watched wedding guest counts (and price tags!) get really out of hand when planning. In my experience, this is usually due to family pressure. At some point, a lot of my couples have started to feel like it’s not even their wedding any longer. That they’re along for the ride.
THIS YEAR IS YOUR EXCUSE TO HAVE THE WEDDING YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO!
You now have full control over the guest list. You get to invite the most important people in your life to be there. You can actually take time to be with them or choose not to have guests at all (besides your witnesses)
Traditionally, it’s actually rare for my couples to actually talk to everyone that attends their wedding.
With a smaller wedding, you can now spend time with everyone you’ve invited.
Couples recently have been saving so much money on weddings. Prices really have gotten out of control! You won’t have to spend thousand’s on catering for your 100 person guest list, you can spend that money you saved in other places.
This is one of the most exciting things with micro weddings – you can get married anywhere.
You no longer have to look for a hall to accommodate a certain guest count, while also meeting the budget. Now you get to be creative. Some of my couples are getting married in forests, in front of waterfalls, and at restaurants that would not have been possible with a larger guest count.
As a wedding photographer, this is the most exciting part of micro weddings for me.
Weddings have become much simpler overall. This means less stress for you on your day. No problems to troubleshoot, you just get to enjoy the day. This lack of stress on the wedding day really comes through in the photos.
We have all the time we need for photos, and we’re in control of the time of day we take them. At a traditional wedding, the photo session just kind of fits wherever it fits – which means non-ideal lighting conditions where you might not look your best.
Micro weddings, we can schedule at the best time of day for photos.
To add to that, you can now use the budget you saved to spend a little more on the details you’d really like to have.
Pick your dream location. There are no longer any rules where you should have your ceremony.
Parks, locations, and businesses are all really going out of their way to be super accommodating these days, and that makes your life a lot easier.
Spend some of the money you’re saving on bringing in great vendors. Budgets usually get stressed really thin because of the number of guests at the wedding. This is your excuse to involve all of the vendors you would want to have for your dream wedding.
Set up an on-location dinner, or move to a restaurant. With smaller guest counts, it’s now possible to set up a small reception wherever you’d like. Again, whatever your dream location is for this, this is probably the only year that it will be possible to do.
TO GET THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHS:
Schedule your ceremony when it’s good for photos. 2 hours before sunset will give us the best light for photos.
Hire a photographer (me!) for 2-3 hours. That will cover a little of the getting ready, the ceremony, family photos, and photos of the two of you. (There are also packages if you’d like me to come to the reception)
My photography is primarily candid, so it’ll be a more relaxing experience than you might think right now. Safety is my highest priority! Wearing a mask and staying 6 feet apart will be apart of my actions to keep you and your guest safe.
Your wedding day will come and go in the blink of an eye but your gorgeous wedding photos will be cherished forever! Talented wedding photographers combine art and science to capture your day perfectly but, beyond the typical wedding party photos, we’ve rounded up 20 photos you must have shot on your big day and we’re not talkin’ bridal party, first looks, or cake cutting!
These photos are effortlessly casual and make for the most fun photo ops. Before all the glitz and glamour of the dresses and jewelry, get some fun snapshots of the day in cute matching pajamas or robs to have some more casual fun photos to enjoy!
Sometimes wedding photos can seem very formal, make sure your personality shines through as well! Don’t miss an opportunity to be silly and to have photos taken that actually capture the rollercoaster of emotions a wedding day consists of.
We love florals! Make sure your beautiful bouquet is captured in all its glory! It is also a great piece to use in detail, dress, and ring shots!
You likely will save a few extra invitations but we think it is still worth the photograph! We think invite suite photos tell the story of the day so we love to incorporate them into Wedding Album designs.
If you are lucky enough to have parents and grandparents celebrate your special day with you, do not miss the opportunity for a generational photo. We love this up-close photo showing off three generations of happily married ladies!
This isn’t a must-have for everyone, but if your shoes are this pretty, you may want it captured!
Don’t forget to take individual shots with the members of your bridal party! These images will be so meaningful since oftentimes bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t know each other. They love you so much and will definitely cherish a solo picture to remember your special day! We love the idea of printing these out and including them in thank you notes! (the same should be done for the groom’s party as well)
While of course, you are excited to have your reception space filled with your favorite people, make sure you have some shots of it empty so you can truly appreciate and remember the details!
Before everyone digs make sure a photo is snapped of your cake in picture-perfect condition!
You spent so much time picking out all the small details, make sure your photographer snaps a photo so you can remember every last minute that went into planning the best day ever!
Ring detail shots are some of our favorites! This is another image that will look amazing in your Wedding Album.
How amazing is this shot? Don’t be shy to throw a little confetti, as you can see it’s totally worth it!
The ladies seem to get most of the attention on the big day but the groom is equally as important. Don’t forget to get a groom portrait so you can remember how handsome he looked on your most special day!
This little detail deserves photo evidence that it was there and it was beautiful. Most brides opt to take it off for the reception and remainder of the evening so make sure you have the shot so you can remember its elegance.
Portraits with the flower girl and ring bearers are timeless. They are also the best photos to look back on when that little one is grown up and planning a wedding of their own!
If you got creative on your welcome gifts or favors, make sure it is photographed. We love these custom koozies!
If you plan to gift your other half the morning of the wedding, wait until your photographer arrives! There is such an amazing photo op for your photographer as you read the sweet letter or open the sentimental gift!
This is a detail that often gets looked over, but if you have an escort table as gorgeous as this one, you are going to want to remember it!
As personalizing the wedding day has become more and more important, these details certainly are a big part of what makes your wedding so uniquely yours and it’s fun to see what you had adorned the room as styles change year to year.
Before you dance the night away and sweat your makeup off and your hair falls, get some nice images of the details! It’s also really nice to share these with the vendors so they can use them for their portfolios.
One of the most popular questions I get regarding engagement sessions (second to posing tips) is with regards to a location. So I thought I’d share a few other ways you can choose a location for your long-awaited engagement photos.
If you’re sentimental like me then you’ll want to have photos done in a place that means something to both of you. If you choose the location where you first met, then your engagement photos will always remind you of that sweet day when you met your partner.
If you live in a picturesque area then your hometown might be the perfect location for your shoot!
Just imagine having lovely photos of the two of you at the place where he got on one knee!
From Disney to the beach, I’ll travel with you anywhere.
Do you love the outdoors? Do you prefer a big city? Think about how you like to spend your time together and choose a place based on that.
Remember that in photography, light is everything. So if you plan to have a sunset engagement session, be sure that the light will be flattering at that time of the day!
Some locations are prettier during a specific time of year. If you know you want spring photos, do a little research and find out which locations look best at that time of year.
Make sure your outfits fit the location and vibe of the place you’ve chosen. Flowy dresses for a beach. Something elegant or formal for a university location.
This one is especially important if you’re bringing your doggy along on your shoot! You don’t want to choose a place that isn’t dog friendly!
You can always get photos early at your venue. Think of it as a stress-free practice day. You’ll be even more excited about coming back on your wedding day
There isn’t a rule that says the location of your engagement session has to be meaningful thanks to something that happened there previously. If you love the location and the light is good there, I encourage you to go for it! The place will become meaningful to you once you’ve had your session there.
If you have a special holiday, hobby, or season consider planning a session based on those details that are special to the two of you.
If you got to the end of this list and still don’t have any ideas then reach out to me. I make it my personal duty to find the best locations for my clients.