Wedding and Family Photography Contract Templates

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by clare_anderson, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. Hello Business of Photography Forum.

    Do you have any links to examples of wedding and family or general photography contracts which you use or recommend please. I am in England. I sometime work in Scotland too. Are there Scottish photographers out there with a contract template?

    I've read a few articles via Google about it, many of which have 'things to include'. I would rather not write one from scratch, or visit a lawyer, and would love to see what you use or recommend.

    Many thanks for your help and guidance. I have been lurking, reading and learning for years and am happy to be finally posting!


    Moderator Note: Conversation has been moved from Business Forum to Wedding and Social Events Forum
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2017
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    As I understand there are relevant Laws which pertain to England and Wales and the relevant Laws pertaining to Scotland, vary slightly.

    As a guide to one peculiar point I understand is relevant to England: be aware that there is a difference between Copyright of an Image and the Right to Publish an Image.

    My understanding is that the difference is particularly relevant to Wedding Photographers working in England and Wales (and other Countries where the Copyright Laws have been directly derived from English Copyright Law). Pursuant to this point, you should investigate the inclusion of a Clause in the Contract whereby the Client allows you to use images to promote your business. I am ignorant about this point of Law where it applies to working in Scotland.

    My opinion is that is tempting business suicide to take on any Wedding Photography Client without a (written) Contract; I mention this because your website implies that you are already working – so it is good that you are moving forward regarding written contracts, yet it might be worthwhile RE-considering the value of engaging a Solicitor who is EXPERIENCED in this type of work as doing so might be money well spent.

    If that is not your choice, then my advice is that you should engage rigorous diligence investigating the legitimacy and relevance of any Contract Template that you attain.

    Investigating (membership of) a Professional Photography Society (there are a few) available to Photographers in England could give you access to a Contract Template; being a Member of similar Societies where I work, certainly does allow me access to many useful documents and has other benefits, for example access to (relatively low cost) Industry Specific Insurance Policies.

    That’s another point – if you do not have Public Liability Insurance (Personal Injury and Property Damage), then my advice is to get it, now.

  3. Hello William.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. 'Get insurance' and 'Sort contracts' have been on my Google Keep 'Business To Do' list for too long now. I recognise that they are well out of my my comfort zone and I have been glossing over them for too long. Can I ask which professional associations you are referring to. Might they be pertinent to my needs? Do any other readers of this belong to one and recommend it? Again I shall head to Google.

    As you say: "you should engage rigorous diligence investigating the legitimacy and relevance of any Contract Template". This is the conclusion i came to and the reason I posted here. I am far from a contract lawyer and need help with this. There are a dizzying array of options available online. Trusting one of them feels like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. I would appreciate any working UK wedding and family photographers' input on this. What has been your solutions? I wonder how many have no insurance and/or no contract. I think I need to set myself a deadline to get this done. It feels like a can or worms and a time hole.

    Do any readers of this thread have any recommendations of experienced solicitors they have used and would recommend. Have any of you used the pay to use online contracts instead and are you happy with these. Do you feel adequately confident in them, or do you think that paying £280+ per hour for a solicitor in the flesh (def in the wrong business here aren't we?) is the way forward. Shall I suck it up as a one off set up cost, or are there any other valid cheaper options recommended.

    Many thanks

  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    As you should already know (if you've shown the diligence that I advised and researched the source of my advice) - I work in the Convict Settlement, down under. . here there are a few Professional Photographic Societies which provide members various means of support, including access to tailored Insurance Policies, Peer Support, Mentoring, and various Industry Specific Business Templates - including Contracts, Invoicing, Release Forms & etc

    In AUS there are also several Tertiary Institutions (both Public and Private) which address both Photography and also Business. Here we have "TAFE" (Technical and Further Education) which essentially addresses the practical aspects in it courses designs and content: whilst not suggesting that you necessarily enroll in a course, you might find some useful information if you research similar institutions.

    I don't know specifically the names of the similar Societies / Associations available to folk in England: but I do know that such exist. Obviously research is indicated and you need to evaluate what might best suit your particular needs. I do know that there is The Royal Photographic Society, as The Australian Photographic Society is modelled on it. And that might be a start for you. Personally once a list of Vendors is found (remembering that you are the potential client / purchaser in this situation), I think that a telephone is the most expedient method of harvesting good quality primary information; remember to have pen and paper with a list of questions and make diary notes of the conversations.

    Overall and as a general comment, many people starting out in their own business today seem to focus primarily (or only) on passive information gathering and client harvesting: throwing stuff into the internet is good, but doing so relies on: firstly readership; secondly a response, I think new businesses have more chance of success if more aggressive and direct approaches are made, in concert with the passive methods.

  5. Hi Clare. I'm a full-time pro in England and hopefully I'll add to the excellent advice already given by William. I would strongly advise you not undertake any kind of ‘work’ without at least a basic set of Terms in place, and you are playing with fire if you do not have Liability insurance and in the case of weddings, Professional Indemnity insurance as well.

    To be effective, a Contract does not need to be written by a legal professional. But it does need to be ‘fair and reasonable’ if tested in a court of law. As has been mentioned, laws can vary in Scotland and I am referring to the laws of England and Wales.

    Some photographers have fairly basic contracts and others have much fuller terms of business which contain quite detailed pieces of information. I fall into the latter category since I like my clients to be as well informed as possible. It also makes it abundantly easier when questions are raised to simply refer the customer back to ‘Clause xx’.

    Wedding photography contracts do exist as templates and these are available through the leading long established photography institutions such as the MPA (Master Photographers Association), SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers) and the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photography). I am a Fellow of the latter two and I would recommend anyone starting out as a professional wedding photographer to consider a membership of one of these three bodies. Benefits include a legal helpline and in the case of the SWPP (not sure about the MPA) an active and incredibly helpful members forum which is a minefield of business information and support.

    It's prudent to cover the following in your Contract/Terms:
    • Booking and Payments (your process for retaining your clients and your payment schedule)
    • your Cancellation policy (this will be linked to the above and will change according to how close to the event your client cancels)
    • Copyright (you retain copyright in all matters, digital files are licensed according to certain usage rights you have assigned, your retaining the right to display your images on your website and other portals)
    • Coverage (what you will be photographing)
    • Creative Licence (you decide what setups are most appropriate rather than the client making those decisions)
    • Client Obligations (such as the information which must be provided to the photographer and any assistance you require on the day)
    • Exclusivity (whether you are to be the only contracted stills photographer on the day)
    • Force Majeur (failure due to situations beyond your control)
    • Complaints Procedure
    • what your clients may do with any digital files provided to them (eg personal use, no right to supply to third parties such as venues etc)
    • Ordering and receipt of goods (timescales, payments)
    • the role of your assistant, if you have one
    • Images (cropping, colour reproduction, number of images provided will vary etc)
    • Limitation of Liability
    • your working hours (‘all day coverage’ or set hours with extra hours charged)
    Although I’m now almost entirely a portrait photographer my Terms of Business cover all of those things in sufficient detail for the client to have a good plain English understanding of how the photography process works.

    Your Standard Operating Procedures are your own office documents setting out your process for things like complaints, copyright infringements, dealing with venues etc. Remember there is little point providing a contract if you are not prepared to enforce it should you have to do. Clients do not have the right to rewrite or amend your terms as they see fit.

    Perhaps the hardest thing for many photographers is the ability to say ‘no’ when pushed - and in wedding photography you will probably be pushed a great deal.

    There is nothing wrong with reviewing the contracts of other established photographers you know, providing they cover the key points I've mentioned. Most professional wedding photography contracts are very similar. The important thing is to understand how or if the clauses therein apply to your own business and if some of those clauses are even relevant to you. You may even need to add clauses, depending on how you do things.

    Regarding the laws of England and Wales, and Copyright, there is a wealth of information on my blog (the one with the garland logo) in the For Photographers section, or you can use the search facility.
  6. Hi Lindsay, Many thanks for your very helpful and kindly written reply. I have just spent my lunch hour (off contract and ToC writing, amalgamating, editing and proofing) perusing your equally well-written, informative and diplomatically-phrased blog. I shall be looking at it again most definitely. I now have insurance, indemnity and hope to have some rudimentary TOC by the end of the day. I am using a couple of templates (one from the SWPP, another from a legal firm, as well as editing in parts of best practice elements from other photographers' websites (in a non-plagiarist manner of course).

    William, again many thanks for your reply. I appreciate the time it takes to mentor us newbies comes from your family and work time, something of which we never have enough

    Many thanks and best wishes

  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

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