Wedding Photography

How to Create a Wedding Photography Contract?

You’ve seen it before. It’s not the photographer with the most significant camera or the most artistic eye that wins in the world of wedding photography. It’s the best-practised business photographer.

Savvy businessmen or women know how to create their brand and or product, sell it, promote it – and all before 5 pm (well, sometimes). For a wedding photographer, branding and creating a product is only half the battle. Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.

One side of the photography business includes observing a plethora of legalities that will help you make the most of your business. One of those legal considerations is a Wedding Photography Agreement or Contract. This agreement will protect you from liability. It also will very clearly lay out expectations for both you and your clients.

What’s Included in the Contract?

Many photographers have little idea what goes into a Wedding Photography Agreement. The length and content will largely depend on what type of services you provide. Here are a few non-negotiable inclusions:

Contract Page

This is the primary contact information for both parties agreeing. Think of this as a “cover page” with impertinent details including:

Bride (client) name and all contact information

  • Fiancé’s name
  • Description of service acquiring (i.e. “8 hours of wedding photography and portrait services by the photographer)
  • Date, time, location of ceremony, reception, and other
  • A place for signature and date signed


This specifies that the agreement was made by both parties who fully intend to cooperate within the agreement stipulations.

Payment (including Deposit or Booking Fee)

Here you stipulate the total charge for services provided. You also may protect yourself with a required “save the date” deposit that is non-refundable.

Rights and Usage

Will you give the clients a cd of all the pictures? Or will you provide proofs only and keep printing rights? Be sure to get this in writing, or else you will open yourself to possible losses.

Model Release

If you are like most photographers, you will want to use the wedding images in your portfolio and advertising. Be sure to get this written permission in writing and make things easy by including it in the contract.

If you want to be detailed, consider adding a few other inclusions, such as booking and reimbursement for travel fees, schedule of the day, product return, and a stipulation on being the sole photographer. Many photographers have their agreements online. Do your research before writing a deal to keep yourself covered. 

Things Photographers Need to Know About Contracts

Wedding Photography

Say the word “contract” to a group of wedding photographers, and you will often get the same collective sigh that the word “homework” elicits from a group of seventh graders. Most wedding photographers go into the business because, well, they love photography — not because they wanted to spend their time understanding copyright law. But working without a wedding photography contract not only puts the photographer at risk but leaves a lot of the essential details of the day up to chance. To ensure everything runs smoothly, here are six things every photographer needs to know before they get started on a contract.

Wedding Photography Contracts Are for the Client, Too.

New photographers working without a wedding photography contract often say that they don’t want to stress the client or make them feel like they’re signing over their big day. But in reality, wedding contracts are for the client, too. Contracts help both the photographer and client to work on the same page, with no misunderstood verbal conversations and no details left out. Besides serving as a quick resource for the client, contracts help clients to feel at ease because arrangements make photographers appear more professional.

Verbal Discussions at a High-Stress Time Before the Wedding Day Are Easily Misunderstood.

There are many things to do during wedding planning time, which can create a lot of stress. Do you want to leave the details up to a verbal discussion when the client is not only under a lot of pressure but already has quite a few other things to remember? A written agreement helps ensure that both parties place everything they discussed exactly as they discussed it. This includes things like a payment schedule, booking fees, deposit amounts or a non-refundable retainer.

Wedding Photography Contracts Outline the Couple’s Entire Experience With You, from Start to Finish.

From the date, time and place you need to be at for the big day to deliver prints, wedding photography contracts can (and should) detail the entire experience. You don’t want to put only your booking fee in the agreement to have the clients realize later that they can’t afford to purchase any prints of their day. Surprising a couple with unexpected expenses is an excellent way to get a bad review even when you do good work. Along with the deposit amounts and complete fee, it’s a good idea to include a price list for all your wedding photography services, including extras like prints and albums right inside your contract. So the client isn’t surprised (and so you know what couples booked before or after a price change). This contract or wedding photography agreement represents the entire understanding of the couple’s experience with you, so it’s essential to outline all the key points and tiny details. Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Boutique events group has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo companies to help you choose. 

Wedding Photography Contracts Can Double as a Model Release Form.

The photographer automatically owns the copyright to the wedding photos — but that doesn’t mean you can share them. Wedding photography contracts should include a section that clarifies whether you can use the images in your online portfolio, social media pages, or even submit to contests or wedding magazines. Even owning the copyright without a model release form could run you into issues if sharing photos of the bride and groom.

All Contracts Can — and Should Be — Negotiable.

A common misconception is that contracts scare off potential clients. Still, in reality, clients don’t even see the agreement until you’ve already had some time to chat with them about their wedding and have started to build a relationship. Not only that, but contracts are negotiable, and they don’t have to be the same with every client. If your client doesn’t want you to share any of the images online, you can adjust that clause — and better plan for your portfolio. Whether the client wants additional coverage or swaps out what’s included in the package, the best contracts are easily adjusted to meet each wedding’s needs.

Things to Check for in Your Wedding Photography Contract

So you’ve done your research and picked the perfect professional photographer to document your wedding. But you still have one crucial task to take care of to book them: your wedding photography contract officially. Getting all of the details of the agreement in writing will help prevent any miscommunication and ensure you get the photos you want and the services you’re paying for. But between engagement sessions, day-of services and post-wedding pictures, it’s a lot to keep track of—which is why we put together this helpful guide. As you carefully read over your wedding photography contract, make sure all of the following standard info is included. Once you know all your bases are covered, sign on the line and have your photographer do the same. Then, make a copy of the legal document for your files, so you can quickly consult the contract as your wedding approaches. Ready to get started? Here’s everything you need to know included in your wedding photography contract (plus some FAQs you might have).

Do You Need a Wedding Photography Contract?

In short, yes. We recommend signing contracts with all of your wedding vendors, so nothing goes awry on your wedding day. Given the money and time invested in these services, you’ll want to have all the details confirmed in a binding agreement. Since photography is such a massive part of your wedding day, you’ll have extra peace of mind knowing everything is already sorted out ahead of the big day. Plus, it will help the photographer know exactly what you, the client, expect from them. Win-win!

What Should a Wedding Photography Contract Include?

Wedding Photography

Wedding photography contracts are unique because they involve more than just the day-of details. You’ll need to talk to your photographer about what happens after the wedding too. Ask them when the wedding photo proofs will be available to view online, how to download them and how much it will cost to re-download down the line. You’ll also need to discuss the copyright details so everyone is clear on where they can share them. Of course, you’ll want to cover the cost of the services as well as any extra charges you may be subject to (like going over time, for example). Finally, ensure your wedding photography contract has a cancellation clause in case of emergencies. That way, in the event of an emergency, you’ll know exactly what’s going to happen (and how much money will be involved.)

Before you sign anything, make sure all of this essential information is included. If you need to make any additions based on personal circumstances, feel free to add on. See the standard input to have in your wedding photographer contract below.

Name and Contact Information

Just like grade school again: Make sure your names and your photographer’s name are included in the contract. Then, ensure your contact information (phone number and email) is listed in case either of you needs to get in touch with the other person.

Name of the Photographer(s) Who Will Be Shooting Your Wedding 

Sometimes wedding photography services have several pros available to work. To avoid any surprises on your wedding day, make sure you know exactly who will be working. If the photographer is bringing assistants, make sure that’s included in the contract, so you don’t have any unexpected problems with the venue.

When and Where

Please write down your wedding date, so it’s concretely confirmed. Then, include:

The start time(s).

  • End time(s).
  • The exact number of hours you’d like them to work.

Finally, ensure you list the specific addresses for every location your photographer will be expected to go to (your getting-ready suite, your ceremony venue and your morning-after brunch, for example).

Wedding Moments to be Captured

Now that you’ve established where the pictures will be taken (and the accompanying time frame), it’s time to get more specific. Include every wedding moment you want the photographer to cover, such as getting ready, the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. That way, your pro knows exactly what to expect and can plan a timeline for all the shots.

Detailed Shot List You’ve Agreed To

Time for the nitty-gritty. Here’s where you should include your wishlist of pictures. Pro tip: Photographers usually have a standard wedding photography shot list that they use. However, if there are specific pictures you’d like to take (a picture with your close relative or a close-up of a particular detail), make sure you include them here.

Camera Information

Next, confirm the equipment the photographer’s going to use. List out the number of cameras used and which formats the photographer will use (digital, film or both).

Film Camera Information (If Applicable)

If you’re opting for film photography, include the details here. That means the number of rolls to be shot, whether they’re going to be in colour or black and white, what type of film is being used and the cost per additional roll.

Break Timing

Like your band or DJ, your photographer will need to eat and take a break. We recommend scheduling it during dinner to avoid missing any amazing dance floor shots (or if you’re having a second shooter, ask them to alternate breaks).

Dress Code (Optional)

This isn’t necessary, but if it’s important to you, it’s worth including. If you have a specific colour scheme or dress code that you’d like the photographer to adhere to, ensure it’s included in the contract. If you don’t have a preference, it’s still a good idea to talk about it, so you know what to expect on your wedding day.

Proof Information

Now it’s time to think past your wedding day. In your wedding photography contract, discuss the number of proofs you’ll receive and how you’ll receive them (via email or text, for example). You’ll also want to include the date the evidence will be ready and how long they’ll be available to view online (though we’re sure you’ll be prepared to look at them ASAP).

Order Information 

Confirm when and how you’ll receive your order, so there are no surprises. For example, if the photographer tells you upfront that it will take two weeks to get you your pictures, then you won’t be worried something went wrong after you place your order. You’ll also want to include any other package or delivery fees and other accompanying details.

Copyright Details

Next up: copyright law. In the contract, specify who owns the photos and any restrictions on posting or distributing the pictures on social media or elsewhere. Pro tip: Include stipulations for where your photographer can share your photos, especially if you’d prefer they aren’t used for promotional materials, commercial use or submitted to magazines or websites without your permission.

Non-Disparagement Clauses

While these aren’t necessary, we highly recommend checking to see if these are included. If your wedding photography pro has a non-disparagement clause, that means you aren’t allowed to leave negative reviews or comments. If you don’t check to see that this disclaimer is included, you could be facing legal troubles.

Total Cost

Time to focus on the pricing. We recommend getting the cost itemized if possible. That way, you can see your budget’s exact breakdown and what your money is calling you.

Overtime Fee

While it’s best to stick to the allotted time (and your accurate timeline), things happen. If your pro has to work overtime, but the price in the contract. 

Reorder Price

If you decide to order additional prints later, get that cost in writing right now. That way, you know exactly what to expect should you want extra copies of your gorgeous wedding pictures.

Deposit Amount and Date Paid 

Typically, you put down your deposit (also known as a retainer fee) when you book the photographers. But it’s always a great idea to keep track of every exchange on your contract. Include the deposit amount you paid and the date you paid it, so there are no mix-ups down the road.

Remaining Balance and Due Date

Get clear on the payment terms here. Double-check to ensure the remaining balance, deposit amount, and total cost align with each other before signing anything. Then, confirm the amount left and the date you need to pay it. If you’re using a payment schedule, get all of the dates and amounts in writing right now.

Cancellation, Rescheduling and Refund Policy

If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that things out of our control happen all the time. If, for some reason, you need to cancel, cover the protocol now—and get it confirmed in writing. Discuss the pro’s cancellation policy, rescheduling policy and refund policy, so you’re crystal clear on what happens should you need to postpone or cancel your celebration.

Non-Discrimination Policy or Ally Pledge

You should feel safe and supported by your wedding pros. One great way to ensure this happens is by looking for a non-discrimination policy orally pledge in your wedding photography contract. If they don’t have one, it’s worth asking if they can include it (if it would make you feel more secure). You deserve to celebrate your love story no matter what it looks like. At Boutique events group we have compiled a list of the Best Photographers in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.

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