Professional photographers will always have a contract. READ IT THROUGHLY! Don’t just skim over it. If you need to, take it home or have them email you a copy to review BEFORE you sign. If there is a section you don’t understand, ASK!
A photography contact should be designed to protect both yours and the photographers interests. It is not to rip you off.
Look for the following:
- What am I getting for my money
- What is not included and would be extra
- What safe guards are in place to protect my investment
- What is expected of me and the wedding party for the shoot
- How long will it be before I get my final pictures
- What is the start and stop times for the session
- Liability clause
- Copyright clause
A liability section is there to protect you and the photographer. Not just the photographer. It should list out the damages that will be provided in the unfortunate event something happens. Hardware can fail and cause data loss, weddings are canceled and nature can be a real kill-joy. What are your rights under the terms and conditions of the contract? Do you get your money back, is there a penalty if you cancel or reschedule your day, etc…?
Review copyright clauses. Most photographers will give you all the edited images and you can do with them as you please but they will usually maintain a limited copyright to be able to show them as work performed or use on their web site and in promotional materials. If you do not want that then talk to them about it. They should honor your request without question and make sure it is noted on the contact.
A contact should be signed by both you and the photographer as this is an agreement between the two of you. You are paying for a service and need what you are getting spelled out and how much it costs. Don’t be afraid to ask them to change a section your are not willing to accept. You should get a copy of the contract and they should maintain a copy also. BOTH copies must have identical terms and conditions so any modifications need to be on both copies. Remember when asking for modifications, this ‘partnership’ you are entering into with the photographer is a two way street. Worst thing that can happen is you take your money and go elsewhere.