If possible when you are interviewing your candidates, ask them for a copy of a contract that you can take with you. This will allow you to review everything at your convenience and with out pressure. Contracts should be as specific as possible on the photographers obligations, with everything clearly written out. This will protect both client (you) and the photographer from misunderstandings. There should be no verbal additions or promises made beyond the scope of the document.
A professional photographer will have some sort of contract for you to view. Be sure your contract has:
- Your wedding photographer, and their contact information imprinted on it.
- Be sure you receive a copy of the contract for your records!
- Due dates and amounts for all payments
In a solid wedding contract there are three main parts. Here are some things to look for and be sure your contract has. If your photographer doesn't include this information generally, you may consider asking them to do a longer contract for you so that it will all be written!
General Terms/ Information:
This portion should list all the details for your wedding.
- Date, location and time of your wedding
- Contact information for Bride and Groom
- Additional emergency contact for the day of the wedding
- What time and location the photographer is to report to
- The address of any and all venues the photographer will be required to be at. (church, park, reception area)
- Bridal Party and Family information, who the important people are
- Name and Cell number of the photographer
- Name(s) of assistant photographers or second shooters (at the least a count of how many people the photographer is bringing)
- Style of photography and important must have shots listed
- Subjects, events to be covered such as first dance, pre-wedding, formal images... etc
- Any additional requests or requirements from you, or your venues.
- Length of coverage on wedding day
- Additional sessions included and details of packages or prints included from these
- What kind of equipment will be used / back up equipment available
- Film or Digital ( Is there a min/max number of images to be shot or delivered)
- Date proofs will be available (printed or digital view?)
- Number of proofs and complete package details
- Delivery details of finished package (how, when you will receive them)
- Editing, Retouching, or other finishing details that are included or additional cost
- Overtime or other additional fees listed
- Total price (itemized if possible)
- Re-order policy and prices
- Meal plan. Are you required / or offering to plan a meal for the photographer?
- Copyright: who owns the finished images, can you print them yourself, will you receive a photo release in order to do so?
- Public usage of images (who owns what, can you post images to facebook or a blog, can your photographer? )
- Additional Photographer/ Photo services (most have exclusions, to insure they are the only "photographer" at your wedding. If you plan on having a photo booth from a separate company or service you will need to have an amendment added so that the photo booth or operator is not considered "another photographer"
- Limit of liability: this covers "what if"
- Insurance coverage of damage to property for venue
A Limit of Liability is basically a disclosure of what the photographer, studio or company is going to do if something goes wrong. It should list everything from if the photographer, or promised assistants do not show up to camera failure or cancellation of the wedding itself and under what circumstances they will offer a refund, or reschedule, or offer replacement product.
In most cases the limit will be a reflection of any deposits or monies already collected at that point. If you haven't paid the full amount, the photographer wont refund more then what has been paid. That line about "clients agree that an entire wedding can not be replicated, reenacted or repeated" basically means if the photographer ruins your day, your images, or your memories... your not getting back more then your photography money... nor will a court require them to.
This is where all your due diligence, checking references, and trusting your decision to hire a professional will come to play. At the end of the day, because of the limit of liability your trusting that professional with your memories.