The idea of being a freelance photographer is as exciting as it sounds.
But if you are to make photography passion into a successful full-time business, you need more than passion and an artistic eye for the camera. You need an efficient management system to keep your workspace clutter-free and creative.
If you happen to be specializing in the wedding photography madness where everything starts and ends with photos, ensuring you have minimal friction working with clients is your secret sauce to success.
It is said easier than done.
However, one step can take out all the guesswork, keeping all the vital concerned stakeholders on the same page.
Enter wedding photography.
Such a contract not only creates maximum transparency about all the deliverables of the project for both you and your clients but ensures both the parties are legally bound to oblige on the commitment. What follows?
Superior confidence in your service, showcasing your professionalism that boosts your brand equity in the long term. But what does a zero loophole wedding photography contract look like?
In this post, we bring you the seven vital elements your wedding photography projects need to have in 2021.
7 elements that every serious freelance wedding photographer includes in their contract
Investing some time in thinking deeply about all the elements of your wedding photography contract is time well invested. After all, it will make sure you and your freelance business are protected from every malpractice in the marketplace.
But if you are not acquainted with establishing a working contract prior to this instance, coming up with priority elements might look a little intimidating. However, fret not.
You can start with the diverse templates that are easily findable on the internet. Infact, we have attached such a wedding photography contract right here for you. But remember to make it a perfect match for your unique business, you must customize it.
But this is just the first step.
Consulting a lawyer is always the best option to ensure you are entirely safe and abiding by the legal laws. The best part is you might end up a few bucks while hiring legal advice because of your pre-existing contract template.
So now, when you know how to create a photography project contract, let’s look at the 7 core areas that your agreement cannot afford to neglect.
Annexure I of any contract usually starts with a high-level overview of a project. It outlines the scope of your work and work landscape.
Answering the key questions of the project, this section creates a basic awareness about all the stakeholders involved with other details like shoot location, time, duration, budget, crowd capacity, and others.
Having a detailed overview means a comprehensive understanding of the complete work scope leading to better pre-planning and superior end quality of work.
2. General information
Creating this section might not look to be the related information for your business. But then, reconsider it. Ensuring you put down your legally registered business name along with other trade details is as important as executing the actual service successfully. It will ensure that your service charges and money get filed under the right name and don’t suffer any legal dispute.
More so, your client’s government validated name shall also be entered here. This makes sure you are creating enough proof for future dispute resolution if any.
Messenger-texted credentials might work just fine between you two but not for the law in the long run. But if you are still not convinced about the importance of this section, there is a hidden benefit to it. Adding your registered details into the contract gives your clients a reason to trust you over others, especially in such a competitive market as freelance wedding photography.
3. Service level agreement (SLA)
Defining the scope of your work (SoW) is perhaps the first concrete step that creates a win-win situation for you and your client. It brings all the stakeholders on the same page removing the chances of future disputes.
The best way to get this right is by being hyper-specific about each element. Here are a few elements that you can add.
a) Timelines and deliverables
Having a specific project induction and termination date is incredibly powerful for planning deliverables. More so, it creates a finite time span for catering to the specific project needs for you as a freelancer. This means, if your client ends up requesting more work, you can comfortably charge them for that—no more premium work for free.
For meeting expectations of deliverables, a good practice is to enter a policy of progress reporting for each phase. This will create transparency throughout your service. Also, it is important that you mention all your deliverables with specifics in this section.
b) Post-production agreement
One of the key elements that modern wedding photography undergoes is immense editing. This means understanding the scope of your post-production work is critical to maintaining inside the budget.
The best way to do so is to specify the number of reiterations, editing categories, and software usage. Also, specifying your client’s handling of your work needs to be clear. Do you want to limit their further editing access as it is a direct reflection of your work?
4. Cancellation policy
Although you would do everything in your power to ensure that the project never gets canceled, sometimes it is just out of your hands. Creating a cancellation policy is your only life support when all Hell breaks loose.
It keeps your business intact against situations like impromptu weather forecasts, lockdowns, and health emergencies.
Creating different scenarios like non-refundable, milestone payment, and percentage cancellation charges must be specified and duly signed by authorized parties.
Creating an indemnity bond is yet another great way to make sure you are not liable for any damage that lies beyond your scope of service. A smart way is to list out the circumstances.
5. Payment policy
Creating a separate annexure for your payment terms and conditions is the safest way to smoothly get your service money in your account.
Defining every major to the finer detail of your financial transaction is the first element you need to be aware of—the when, how, and installment percentage needs to be mentioned clearly.
Including a section for a situation if your client’s payment gets delayed or bounces is an excellent way to create flexibility in your working system. Creating a certain level of flexibility to get around will only boost your brand.
6. Model release rights
Weddings are a private affair. But in the world of Instagram and Pinterest, where every modern wedding goes on a photo bombing spree, it is almost impossible to keep a unique piece of artwork intact on the digital space. Some form or the other always gets recreated.
This means if you plan to use your client’s wedding day photographs as your work template later, you need to inform them exactly your usage intentions and how.
Chances are, most of your clients would happily say yes to this consent form. However, some of your clients might be more of a ‘private person.’
In such cases, you would not get an opportunity to feature their wedding photographs. But it does leave you with an opportunity to boost your service charges by a few percentages. This means although you do not get an opportunity for future work, your existing services do give your revenue a little high boost than usual.
7. Copyright and ownership
Ownership and copyrights are some of the most used IPR (intellectual property law) on photographs. No matter if you covered the complete wedding or just one event out of the saga, it is important that you protect your work. This leads your way to ownership access and copyrights.
While you being the creator of the finished photos bestows you to be the lifetime owner of these assets, you can give users access to your clients for life. But sometimes, your clients may want ownership access.
Although it might not be the best practice to do so as it takes away your credits from the end product, you can consider it an option in exchange for considerable monetary transactions.
Any business freelance or enterprise draws its strength from its customers.
While it is critical for you as a one-person company to deliver complete customer satisfaction at the end of the project, you need to make sure your business is well protected against every malpractice in the market.
Creating a well-rounded contract ensures you deliver the maxim value to your customer while safeguarding your business simultaneously.
This means while the above guidelines are a great start to creating a flexible and efficient contract, the best clauses come from your customers.
Observe the unique requirements and characteristics of your consumer needs and business operations. Is there anything specific to the location of your operations? Is there any trend that your typical audience is biased for?
If so, ensure to cover those points. These will only make your contract strong.
Now it is action time.
When are you planning to initiate your legally bound contract?