Wedding photography contract – what should be in it?

 In Wedding Photography

What should be in a wedding photography contract?

Beautiful Dunsborough for wedding photo’s

I belong to a couple of Facebook groups where brides-to-be can post questions and get them answered by who ever has the knowledge and experience to answer the question. As a professional wedding photographer in Perth, who also travels to Busselton, Margaret River Wine Region, and Rottnest Island on wedding photography commissions, these groups are invaluable to keep me on my toes. It is important that I stay in contact with potential clients, and that I know their concerns and questions. This helps me to provide a better service.

Are you dealing with a professional wedding photographer or a ‘wannabe’?

Beautiful Margaret River for wedding photo’s

It is important that a bridal couple know what to expect when they appoint a wedding photographer. Equally important is to know when you are dealing with a professional and when not.

When you have decided who you would like your wedding photographer to be, ask for a contract. When it comes to contracts, read everything, including the small print, otherwise any claims will go south, not as in southwest of Western Australia, but more like, train wreck south.

What to look for when you sign a wedding photography contract:

Apart from the normal name, address, mobile number and email address for both groom and bride as well as the stipulated deposit, the wedding date, ceremony and reception location, there are certain number of clauses that you have to be aware of.

Wedding packages,

Which packages are available to you?

What will additional items such as photography time, custom edited proofs, coffee table proof book, 8’x12’ exhibit print, future proofing of images on DVD, assistant photographer, and canvas wall art, cost?

Now for the meaty, mind numbing, boring reading material, that you have to give attention to, because this is where the rubber hits the road.

The entire agreement

What is written on the paper is what the contract is. When you’ve signed it you agree to the terms. A contract is there to protect both you and the wedding photographer. Any verbal agreement is always trumped by the piece of paper. Do not agree something verbally and then try and keep the photographer to it later, if it is not on paper, you do not have a leg to stand on.

Reservation booking fees or deposits

These are non-refundable. Come hell or high water, chances of you getting this back is zero, except if the photographer does not keep to his side of the agreement. This deposit/booking fee is paid to ensure that he books out your day and shows up on the appointed time, date and place.

Cancellation clauses

If you, cancel the contract, you will forfeit your deposit. The photographer must refund you any additional monies that you have paid him, except expenses that he has already encountered in terms of the contract. He must provide you with receipts for those expenses.

Pre-event consultations

These are very important. Communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and the relationship between yourself and your wedding photographer is one that you want to be particularly successful. Get together at least four weeks before the wedding to finalise the actual shooting times and locations.

Event guide

If there are people, places, and things that you want the wedding photographer to snap, 1.) tell him and 2.) get them. It is not his job to run around trying to get every one together, because he does not know them from a bar of soap. Designate someone, with whom you have discussed this, to do it. You are the centre of most of the photographs, you can’t be running around trying to round everyone up.


A successful wedding is a mammoth project. It can be done, and it has been done many times before. A successful project always have key individuals who will take the lead during certain stages of the project. Appoint one such person to be the event guide. A person who will quietly point out important individuals who you would like to get informal photos off. Be sure to have this person with you at the pre-event consultation.

Shooting time/additions

Beautiful Dunsborough for wedding photo’s

Punctuality and keeping to time limits are important. Being a couple of minutes late is not a problem, but when it runs into 30 minutes plus, your bill from the wedding photographer is going to escalate, and you may not get some of the photos you were hoping for.

House Rules

The celebrant, wedding ceremony and reception venue all have rules and the wedding photographer must adhere to those. If you want something that does not form part of the celebrant and venues’ rules, you have to sort it out with them. The photographer may make some recommendations.

Digital negatives, prints and copyrights

Copyright law is such a fickle thing. Copyright of the photographs, digital negatives and prints stays with the photographer. The long and short of it? If you want a copy, ask the photographer’s written permission. Most photographers will transfer limited copyright ownership to the client, with regards to negatives, digital images and digital files, which means that they can reproduce it for personal use and distribute it to friends and family. If you, friends or family want to publish or sell it for profit then you have to get written permission from the photographer.

Model releases

When you sign a model release, you give the photographer the right, irrevocably and unrestricted, to use and publish your photographs for editorial, trade, advertising or any other purpose. He can alter the photographs how he wants to. He will be able to use the photographs for advertising, display, website and internet promotion, photographic contacts, public display, window displays, television advertising, magazine advertising an any other that he may think proper.

I know this sounds as if the whole world is going to have access to your wedding photos. Please remember that taking photos is a wedding photographer’s way of earning a livelihood. Your photos are his portfolio. His craftsmanship is showcased and this is how he will get more clients. It is important the he must be able to use the work that he has already done, to generate more work.

Exclusivity/guest photography

Have one wedding photographer. Two different ones from two different service providers are just not going to cut it. Some one’s ego will inevitably get in the way.

Guest co-operation

Often the brides are the most calm and collected person on the day, and it is the bridesmaid who turns into a wicked witch of the west. Guests may also suddenly think that they are now the designated photographer. Please, discuss these things with your appointed event guide. Once again: co-operation is key. Talk to the other service provides, i.e. florists, DJ, caterer, and ask them to provide the information that the photographer may require. There will be a photography schedule – share it with those that are relevant to the success of the day.

Verbal and physical abuse towards a photographer is unacceptable. Unchecked and uncontrollable guests may result in a photographer’s equipment being damaged, and an early departure from the wedding photographer. If you or your guests made it impossible for the wedding photographer to do his job, you are going to loose your money, it is as simple as that.

Completion schedule

Perfection, takes time. Anything from 3 to 12 weeks are reasonable.

Proof images

The photographer took hundreds pf pictures. He will send you short listed proof images as you agreed in the contract. His trained eye have already compared the rest, so you should be getting a better than the rest collection. Then you can choose the best of the best.

Final delivery

When printing is done, you will get what you ordered.


The deposit is usually paid within 7 days after signing of the contract and the rest on or before the wedding day. You will be able to pay cash, or bank transfer. Many photographers include a late payment fee.

Right of withdrawal

Communication, communication, communication. Do not change venues, dates and be uncooperative. All these makes it almost impossible for the photographer to do his job if you do not speak to him in a timeous matter.

Limit of liability

If he absolutely can not make it, the wedding photographer should get you a replacement photographer at the same or similar tariff for the same or similar package. If he can not find such a person, he must refund you all payments.

If your photographs are lost, stolen or destroyed on his watch, whether his fault or not, then he must refund you the monies taken as payment.

Quantity of images

The wedding photographer takes a lot of photos. Many of these photos may look similar, but there will be small differences. A ratio of 1:5 images may look similar; they do this to ensure that the best possible image is recorded.


The photographer will take all possible care to take photographs of all the important and special events during your special day. You can not hold them responsible for photographs ruined by guests’ cameras’ flashes or situations outside of their control.


If there is something that you would like to change with regards to the contract that you sign with the photographer, please ensure that it is done in writing and attached to the contract.


They may ‘open’ eyes, remove red eyes and do some dolour correction. Adding or removing people may incur extra costs. Be clear on what you are comfortable with regards to photoshopping.

These are the main contractual clauses that you may encounter in your wedding photography contract. If you do not understand something, ask. If you do not ask and you sign the contract and you later discover the clause did not mean what you thought it did, you can not say that you were ignorant of the law. It is your responsibility to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

When you hire Studio 777 as your wedding photographers we will discuss your wedding photography contract with you, because that it what we do.

Call us at 0400 777 979 or email us at for pricing information and availability for your wedding date.

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