Making Sense of Your Wedding Day Contract

         A Breakdown of Your Wedding Photography Contract

        One might think that the most challenging part of planning the wedding is finding the perfect dress or establishing the proper budget, when in reality it could be deciphering your wedding contract. To be perfectly honest, all of us in the wedding industry bristle at the idea of a contract, writing one, explaining one, administering one. And it is not put in place to torture or confuse our clients- the contract is a benefit to protect both parties. When it comes down to it, as bride and groom, you have to place a tremendous amount of trust in us (“wedding photographer”) to capture memories made on one of the biggest days of your lives. It is nerve wracking enough choosing the photographer that works for you – personality, style, price – we want to take away any lingering fears you may have and make sure everyone is protected.

        So what is the key takeaway that we notice in this brief but tremendously important partnership? A deep, deep, deep level of trust. The client is enabling the wedding photographer a tremendous amount of control. How the work is captured, produced and simply being present. And for the photographer, a written agreement ensures the legal promise of payment and protection of photographic rights.

        In as layman’s terms as possible, I will do my best to shed some light on a seemingly complicated subject!

        BOOKING FEE: A nonrefundable booking fee of  £450 is required at the time of booking, together with a signed contract. Dates are reserved only when this deposit is paid.

        Phew! Right off the bat an easy one. Establishing a level of trust and actually securing your wedding date with me is determined by the deposit. When the deposit is made, I save the date, the time and my presence at your wedding. The reason why it’s non-refundable? Two reasons actually. First and foremost, it saves YOUR day. Once that deposit is in place, the day is yours. Before the deposit is received and contract are signed the day is up for grabs!

        The second reason is, if perhaps you decide to change photographers,(no hard feelings, of course), this booking fee covers the time spent in dialogue, research and other such tasks prior to wedding day.

        BALANCE PAYMENT: The balance is to be made no later than 30 days prior to the wedding day. Payment for additional album photographs, prints & frames is made after the wedding at the time of ordering.

        Why do I require the balance to be paid prior to wedding day? One reason is that I want you to be present at your wedding day – enjoying each moment and not worrying about settling up with me. Prepayment is a wedding vendor industry standard as well because final payments have sometimes not been made due to overextension of the wedding budget. To avoid stress on both ends, prepayment is essential.

        As for prints and albums, payment for those are due when the item order is placed, unless part of a package.

        CREATIVE LICENCE: Louise Adby Photography shall be granted creative and artistic license in relation to the choice of locations and poses used. Louise’s judgment on photographic style and the number of photographs taken shall be deemed correct. Due to changes of the weather and the availability and willingness of subjects, Louise will do her best to honour requested photographs but does not undertake to guarantee any specific picture nor incorporate any specific background, location or group arrangement.

        Choosing a wedding photographer is a truly intimate experience. For most couples, choosing the right person and style is just as important as the perfect dress and the ideal venue. When you ultimately choose your photographer, you like them because of their creativity, use of lighting and positioning of subject. It is my responsibility to make you look your best and trust me I will! A position that may feel strange and awkward, translates as striking in photographs.

        Sometimes Mother Nature is not so accommodating on your big day. When this happens I harness my creativity and switch gears to see what works around us. I will honour as many photographic requests as reasonable given the time allowed and the relative weather conditions.

        COPYRIGHT: The 1998 Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act assigns copyright to Louise Adby Photography. You may not copy the photographs taken under this contract, or allow copies to be made photographically, electronically, or by any other means. Unless agreed with Louise beforehand.

        Copyright can seem to be a complicated concept. Yes, I do own the photographs. I release them to my clients to be allowed to print or post electronically or socially. Technically speaking I release “printing rights” to my couples. The image itself will always be my property.

        Another key aspect to copyright is that the edits made are specific to unique artistic interpretation and creative vision. They can not be altered in any way. A perfect example is Instagram – once a filter is applied, the photograph is no longer my artistic vision. Share them socially if you wish, but please no editing. And always include my logo or photographer credit.

        REPRODUCTION: If High resolution files are included in your package, a written release will be supplied with those files. The release grants the Client to reproduce the images provided for their personal use only and does not allow the photos to be altered, sold or published.

        If you decide to purchase a package with high resolution files (files big enough to print clearly and won’t drive your print shop of choice batty), you may reproduce prints for your personal use in their original state (no editing!). Since the photographs are owned by myself, they can not be sold for personal gain nor published without prior written consent. If by chance you are approached to publish one of the photographs – fantastic! Contact me and I will discuss terms and conditions with the publishing agent.

        AUTHORSHIP CREDIT: Authorship credit in the name of the supplier (i.e. Louise Adby Photography) shall accompany the images when reproduced on media outlets such as Facebook or other social networks.

        Remember the discussion of copyright? Although the client is allowed to post to social media, authorship credit must accompany the photograph. What is authorship credit? Simply put, it is a logo indicating who took the photograph or notation in notes of photographic license. Giving proper credit is key to maintaining the copyright status.

        EXCLUSIVITY: Louise will be the sole (still) photographer at the venues specified. I do however positively encourage family, friends, and other guests to take photographs throughout the day.

        Exclusivity is a concept that is not new but has taken a front seat over the past 5-7 years or so. In a day and age of the digital camera, (and phone and iPad), guests are stepping up and in to capture their own memories. I will maintain the position of being the sole (still) photographer at your wedding. I do positively encourage family and friends to click away, as long as the cameras, phones, iPads etcetera do not interfere with the artistic integrity of the professional still photography. If you are considering an unplugged wedding, please check out my post on Reasons for Having An Unplugged Wedding to get some sure fire tips on how to communicate this intention with your guests.

        FORCE MAJEURE: In the unlikely event of total photographic failure, injury or sickness beyond Louise’s control, her liability shall be limited to a full refund of all monies paid. Your statutory rights are not affected. Louise Adby has full Public Liability, and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

        In a world filled with perfection and infinite expectations of it, sometimes life can become messier than we would prefer. The likelihood that there is complete photographic failure is slim to none, but still bases must be covered. I always carry backups – of everything plus tons of backup storage. If some crazy colossal disaster comes into play, unforeseen sickness or injury the client would be refunded monies paid. We, as photographers, are all heavily insured. Quite frankly, we are in fear of being sued! I am very sensitive to the importance of your wedding photographs, but I must also protect myself, name and business. I have heard instances of peers that have been sued for reasons out of their control – sickness, injury, failure of equipment, creative differences – that is where insurance comes into play.

        I can say that if I do fall ill or something tragic happens, I have a plethora of amazingly talented professional photographer peers who would step up to help and fulfil your amazingly important day. I would reach out to a peer that most represents my style to produce the look requested. We are a very tight knit bunch, rest assured, I would do the best I could to get you exactly the person you need.

        CANCELLATION: If Louise has to cancel this contract for reasons beyond her control, (death, injury, sickness etc.) her liability shall be limited to a full refund of all monies paid. Every effort will be made to find an alternative, qualified photographer of equal professionalism, vision and personality. Should the client cancel, as compensation for loss of income for Louise, the following charges apply as a percentage of the total fee due. (Number of days before the wedding) 60 days or less -100%, 61-90 days – 75%, 91-120 days – 50%. Should the cancelled wedding turn out to be a postponement, then, subject to Louise’s availability, all money paid may be applied to the new wedding. In this case, the total fees chargeable shall be the fee which applies at that time. In the event of Louise taking another wedding booking for your cancelled or postponed a refund of your deposit (less expenses) and monies paid shall be made.

        Cancellation is rare, but sometimes has to happen due to reasons outside of normal control. Similarly to force majeure, if I were to have to cancel due to an unforeseen event and could not replace myself with a suitable substitute, then all deposits are fully refunded.

        If the client cancels, for any reason the stakes are a bit higher. So why penalise a couple for cancelling? Compensation for time already dedicated to the event and to cover any loss of income, say the spot is not filled in time. As you will notice, the charges range based on how close to the event a couple cancels. The closer to the event, the higher the cost due to the fact that filling the day reserved with another wedding is slim to none as couples on average plan a year ahead. There have been times when the couple simply can’t get married on the day planned (I have heard of burst appendix’s, early labor, you name it!) and have to shift to another day entirely! Talk about a stressful situation! If I can be there on the new wedding day, I will certainly do my best to accommodate you, if not the fees do apply.

        PRIVACY: Louise will store your name and wedding details on a private internal database. These details will not be made available to companies or individuals outside of Louise Adby Photography. Should you wish to have your details removed from my database, please advise me in writing.

        I am a private person and take privacy very seriously. I collect client data for use within my company only and would never ever sell or give your private information away. However, I do understand that some are much more private than others and I can remove the client information at any time, as long as it is communicated in writing.

        SHOOTING TIME / ADDITIONS: The CLIENT agrees that cooperation and punctuality are essential to accomplish the goals and wishes of all parties. Shooting commences at the scheduled start time and ends at the scheduled end time. If the CLIENT does not arrive at the appointed time for the EVENT(S), shooting will commence at the scheduled start time and end at the scheduled end time. All additional time beyond the scheduled end time will be billed to the CLIENT.

        The dream of your wedding day and the reality can be much different. You may have dreamt of sun filled skies and flawless execution. Sometimes that is not the case, you can become pulled in all sorts of different directions and really lose track of time. I hate to be a stickler about punctuality and staying on a timeline, but unless you want to get stuck taking pictures all day, adhering to the timeline is so important. Being on time and staying punctual will also save on any additional fees for extended shooting time. I prefer to get the more posed and organised photography done and brilliantly out of the way so my clients can truly enjoy time with loved ones and have as much fun as possible!

        RAW FILES: Images may be edited at the photographer’s discretion, and delivered images may not include all images shot. Louise Adby reserves the creative right to edit and release only those deemed professional in quality and within the photographer’s artistic standards. At no point in time are unedited or RAW files given out.

        When photographing any event for any client I always shoot in the RAW file format. Taking pictures in this manner, allows for very large detailed files that are can be edited with ease. It is highly unlikely that the average person would have the software capable of editing a RAW image.

        With all that being said, my studio never releases images in the RAW. I only release the finished product. This allows me to edit files to allow my style to shine, continue to protect my ever growing brand, and set a standard for clients to come. I believe all clients should receive a gorgeous finished product. Similar to visiting your local baker and asking for the flour, butter and sugar rather than the beautifully decorated cake. Who wants to make their own frosting anyways?

        PERMISSIONS TO PHOTOGRAPHY: It is the sole responsibility of the Client to secure permission of the church, synagogue or other venue of the wedding for the Supplier to photograph the ceremony/event. The Client shall insure the placement of the bridal party, the officiant(s) and the altar decorations so as not to obscure the view of the bride and groom. Louise Adby Photography will abide by the rules of the church/synagogue in regards to camera placement at the ceremony. Many Cities, counties, and private venues/businesses are charging a photography permit fee. The client is responsible for the payment of such fee. In the event clients fail or refuse to pay for any such permit fee despite having been informed by Louise that such fee is required, the client is responsible for any and all related costs or fines if applicable.

        All my clients have a lot on their plate when it comes to planning and executing the perfect wedding. The permission to photograph is a crucial aspect to discuss, especially with the venue. Some churches do not allow the use of flash or want the photographer to stay in one particular spot during the entire ceremony. These pieces of information are so very important for me to know. The best vantage point can make all the difference and allows me to plan the best strategy for documenting the ceremony.

        Another very crucial element to consider is the need for a photography permit. Obtaining the permit is the sole responsibility of my bride and groom and more than likely needs to be taken care of well before the big day! A very important question to ask and task to check off your wedding to do list!

        EVENT FOOD SERVICE: The client agrees to provide a catered meal for Louise Adby and associates working events of five hours or more.

        Photography is hard work and can really boost my appetite. A wedding of shooting five hours or more, a hot meal is required.

        EXPENSES INCURRED: When applicable, the CLIENT is responsible for all travel, accommodation, meal and transport costs.

        When I refer to expenses in this case, I am more focused on destination weddings. I am happy to go to the ends of the earth to capture your big day, but you must get me there. Once there, food and accommodation costs will be covered as well.

        TRAVEL EXPENSES: All travel expenses are based on the distance between the EVENT location(s) and Louise Adby’s studio address. For all EVENT(S), the first 100 miles round trip of travel are included. All miles in excess of 100 miles round trip are charged at £0.45 per mile.

        I can travel 100 miles before the cost of travel becomes just too much. Anything over 100 miles will be charged £0.45 per mile.

        MODEL RELEASE: The signing of this agreement by the Clients constitutes a commercial model release by the Clients to Louise Adby Photography. Louise will have the right to make reproductions including but not limited to website, portfolio samples, self-promotion, magazine editorial use, advertising/marketing and professional competition without further release.

        Agreeing to this contract will allow me to potentially use a photograph from your event to display in my studio, on my website or in any print advertising. However,  I am more than happy to ask for your approval on certain images before they are used if that makes you more comfortable. If you would rather keep the images private I am happy to add a privacy clause to my contract, but would have to charge a fee to cover loss for marketing opportunities.

        PHOTO DISKS/ USB’S: Upon receipt of a USB or Photo Disk containing the wedding images, the Client accepts all responsibility for archiving and protecting the photographs. Louise Adby is not responsible for the lifespan of any digital media provided or any future changes to digital technology or media readers that might result in an inability to read Disks provided. It is the Client’s responsibility to make sure that the digital files are copied to new media as required.

        Protecting your photographs ultimately becomes your responsibility once you receive your photo disk or USB. Due to storage constraints and just simply not being able to keep every single image, take care to transfer your wedding to cloud storage, desktop or however you see fit. I would recommend saving to multiple areas in case of any sort of computer failure. Do not rely on the integrity of a photo disk or USB to remain in tack. Unfortunately, they do not last forever and could accidentally become damaged.

        RETOUCHING: All images will be adjusted for exposure, brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc The Photographer’s judgement regarding these corrections shall be deemed correct. Retouching, digital manipulation and artist finishing is available to the Client as an option at extra cost.

        In terms of editing, I focus on correcting any exposure, brightness, contrast or sharpness that will truly enhance an image. When it comes to more dramatic and involved editing – extensive skin smoothing, removal of wrinkles or covering any tattoos (just to give some examples), I do charge an additional fee. I would be happy to price any additional retouching when the need arises.

        EXPIRATION: All products and services agreed upon within this contract expire one year after the date of the event and will not be rendered. Expiration can be extended for a flat fee of £500. The client shall also be responsible for printing, approving album designs, and other products within this one-year term.

        What do I mean by expiration? Well, inevitably I have to impose an end date on completion of albums and any other products. My clients become busy and can forget to choose the format and pictures for their album. I have to impose this expiration for storage of digital images as well. I just can’t keep everything forever!

        COMPLETION SCHEDULE: After the event, image editing can take up to 30 days. Album printing and binding may require 6-8 weeks after final design is approved.

        The time after the wedding can be an exciting one – the honeymoon, starting your life together and yeah! The pictures! I know it is so hard to wait, but patience is a virtue, or at least that’s what I have heard. To ensure that you are given the best possible product, it will take some time, especially during busy season!

        I hope this breakdown of my own studios contract has been a help!

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