There are two purposes of this article. First, to convince you that no matter how small your business and how infrequently you photograph weddings, you should always have a wedding photography contract governing the expectations for each job. Secondly, it will guide you in drafting your first wedding photography contract using my current photography agreement as a template. This article is written for novice photographers and second shooters (hoping to break out on their own) and is not meant to assist seasoned professionals with more complex requirements. While reading, please keep in mind that I’m not a legal professional; this is written from the perspective of one business owner sharing advise with others.
A wedding photography contract is a must-have
Wedding photography is an industry with low barriers to entry and potentially high rewards on investment. All you need is some will, a camera or two, and the ability to sell yourself (or undercut everyone’s price, if that’s how you roll). This can lead to situations where many inexperienced photographers rush to find work but don’t take the time to plan their businesses, set hard expectations, or protect their (and their clients’) interests if things go awry. Whether you’re laying the groundwork for a successful business or earning vacation money on the weekends, a wedding photography contract is indispensable.
What is a wedding photography contract?
A wedding photography contract is a formalised sales and service agreement between you and your client that is enforceable by law. At a minimum, it should establish expectations for details such as date of service, payment schedule, and copyright ownership, but typically goes into precise details. A contract is considered a meeting of minds; you and your clients agree “to the essential terms and [are] both of the same mind about what the agreement [is]” (source). Read more
The first wedding I attended as an adult was in 2010. To this day, it stands out as the most extravagantly flamboyant wedding I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. In the weeks leading up to it, I had two main concerns, what to bring for a gift and what to wear, in that order. Eventually, my girlfriend and I prepared a thoughtful gift—not cash; sorry, not sorry—in the form of a signed book of nudes photographed by Caitlin Cronenberg. With that out of the way, my brooding turned to the attire because I didn’t own any formal-wear. A similar brooding occurred two years later when I was preparing for my first wedding in a service capacity. (The original suit was out of the question because I had lost weight and it sat poorly. It still does; I should get an alteration.) An established studio had presented me with an opportunity to prove myself, and I didn’t want to let them down—not as a photographer and not as someone representing their brand. Since I had the former covered, it left me thinking about what wedding photographers wear. With this article, I hope to help you avoid the distress involved in selecting the ideal wedding photography apparel. Read more
I was recently commissioned to take this photograph of the Russian Orthodox Christ The Saviour Cathedral. The client contacted me after seeing the vow renewal ceremony I had photographed at the Cathedral in 2012. They plan to have it printed, framed, and presented as a personal gift to someone in Russia. Fascinating!
The reason for sharing this particular photograph is because it’s been my most intense single image Photoshop work in a very long time. The final image was merged from a set of six separate photographs. By itself, merging is relatively easy by being an automated process. The difficulty lies in capturing it correctly. This involves taking the pictures quickly to avoid changes in light, and, counterposing that, being steady to avoid parallax errors. Parallax errors are easy enough to avoid with a nodal tripod head, but I don’t own one because this type of work isn’t typical for me.
The majority of my Photoshop time went towards correcting the perspective manually and removing all of the distractions that would otherwise sully the image. The sidewalk and road had some litter and spray-painted utility markings; a bright yellow fire hydrant screamed for attention near the entrance; several road signs and a couple of sewer access covers were clustered together near one of the corners. All of it had to go.
Unfortunately, it was completely unrealistic to remove the electrical wiring hanging across the façade of the building. There were too many wires crossing too large an area with too many textures. That’s too many too-manys for my retouching abilities. C’est la vie in Toronto, where hanging power and streetcar lines conspire to obscure beautiful buildings all across the downtown core and surrounding neighbourhoods.