After teaching workshops and sitting with newer photographers during mentoring sessions, I’ve found that contracts are one of those things that people shrug off; “I’ll get one later,” or “I’m not charging enough money to need a contract,” or “I don’t have the money to buy a template right now.” Guys, hear me out: no matter where you are in your business, you need a contract. You need a contract right now, before you agree to do any more work in the future. This post isn’t meant to scare you, per se, but it is meant to stress just how important it is to be operating as a professional business from Day 1!
I actually shudder when I look back at my old wedding photography contracts. The first contract I ever used was given to me by another photographer I knew, so I figured if it was legitimate enough for him, it was legitimate enough for me. The contract outlined what the client was paying for, and it had both of our signatures on it, so I figured I was good.
But the longer I was in business, the more I realized the need to add things to my contract. A bit about me being the only photographer hired, another bit stipulating that I needed a meal on the wedding day, and then another bit about…. you get the jist. Pretty soon, I’d amassed two pages of stuff I’d cobbled together on my own. I figured I was fine, nothing would ever happen to me.
And by the grace of God, nothing ever did happen to me or my amazing couples. But after a friend came close to needing legal intervention, it scared the pants off of me; I got my act together and hired an attorney to draft an airtight, solid contract.
If you’re operating with a contract like my old one, by the time you actually NEED your contract to be airtight? It’s too late. And I pray that none of you ever, ever encounter that! But the fact of the matter is that you are running a business, and sometimes in business, things have the potential to get a bit sticky. And your first, most important line of defense is your contract.
See, your contract protects BOTH you and the client: it outlines your responsibilities, and what the client may or may not be entitled to if you fail to perform those duties.
But it also outlines the parameters within which you’ll be working. For example, my contract specifies the steps that are taken if I or my second shooter were ever to experience sexual or physical harassment at a wedding. That’s a really important thing to have written down! Because if I were to be harassed or assaulted at a wedding and were to walk out of the reception, and I DIDN’T have that outlined in my contract? I could be sued for a breach of contract. But because it IS outlined in detail, my second shooter and I are protected from being forced to endure harassment or physical harm on a wedding day. Not that that’s ever happened, but it’s important to know BEFORE you go into any given situation what your options are if there’s an emergency. And it’s important that your client knows, too, so that they’re not surprised along the way if you do have to cite something like a harassment clause.
If you’re a wedding creative and you’ve been working without an official contract, head right on over to Rachel Brenke’s site- she’s a lawyer who specializes in law for creatives, and she has a whole slew of contract templates to choose from! And we’re lucky enough that Rachel’s GIVING AWAY $150 in credit toward her shop for one lucky winner, which is enough to get you started with your very own, very legit wedding contract!
All you have to do to enter is share the link to this post on Facebook, and then let us know you’ve done it by dropping a note in the comments section! For an extra entry, hit up Twitter and share the post as well- just make sure to tag me (@abbygracephoto) and Rachel (@RachelBrenke). Easy peasy!
Questions? Comments for the good of the order? You know what to do- sound off in the comments section!