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12/28/2009 11:24:32 PM · #1
What do you think about this non-pro wedding contract? I've shot some weddings for friends (who had no means of hiring a pro) at no charge and 1 wedding as a favor to a local pro. I'm starting to get more requests to shoot weddings and although I don't have enough wedding experience to charge full price (IMHO) I also can't afford (and don't have the energy) to shoot for free just for experience anymore.

1. This constitutes an order for wedding photography. The client agrees that editorial use of photos and/or advertising use by Jason Price is acceptable unless otherwise noted. Jason may make use of these wedding photos for samples to show future customers as printed or online materials.
2. The client understands that Jason Price is a semi-professional photographer, but has limited experience in wedding photography and does not claim to be a professional wedding photographer. Example photos taken by Jason Price are uploaded to his web site frequently and the client should have a full understanding of the style and quality of his work, including previous wedding coverage. Jason Price will be shooting alone with no 2nd photographer. It is therefore understood that although all care will be taken with equipment and photographs taken at the wedding, Jason Price limits any loss - damage or failure to deliver pictures for any reason - to return monies paid. Jason Price highly recommends hiring a fully qualified professional wedding photographer to cover this once in a lifetime event, and will provide a list of recommended photographers upon request.


"The client understands that Jason Price is a semi-professional photographer and does not claim to be a professional wedding photographer. Photos taken by Jason are uploaded to his web site frequently and the client should have a full understanding of the style and quality of his work, including previous wedding coverage. Jason will be shooting alone with no 2nd photographer. Although confident that you will be fully satisfied with the photos taken, a professional wedding photographer has the advantage of more experience, practice, a fully developed style, 2nd photographer/assistant, and a better understanding of different wedding situations than a non professional. For this reason Jason highly recommends hiring an accredited professional wedding photographer to cover this once in a lifetime event, and will provide a list of recommended photographers upon request."

3. Upon signature, Jason Price reserves the time and date agreed upon, and will make no other reservations for that time and date. Jason Price will make every effort to be at the wedding, but if for some act of God - beyond his control - he cannot make it he is only responsible for return of monies paid.

4. A 50% scheduling Fee is due on signing this contract; the remaining balance to be paid 7 days prior to wedding date.

Message edited by author 2009-12-29 14:29:12.
12/29/2009 07:06:18 AM · #2
I understand where you're coming from, Jason, but there's a world of difference between what you feel you need to put in writing and what a lawyer would let you put in writing.

Your best bet would be to get a template and have an attorney tweak it for you. I've used some of the one's in Business & Legal Forms for Photographers; there are some more good ideas in Carolyn Wright's Photographer's Legal Guide; the Photographer's Toolkit has some ready-to-go. Alternatively, a google search will yield you tons of results. You just don't want to start from scratch and/or leave yourself exposed to unnecessary risk...
12/29/2009 10:31:24 AM · #3
Thanks Skip, I actually did start with a standard template contract, but modified it. The main thing that I want to communicate is that A. I'm not a wedding pro and recommend that you hire one, B. My fees are high (although not quite as high as the regional average) because it is hard WORK and I feel my fee is commensurate with my talent and C. You know what you are getting if you still want to hire me.

I don't want to shoot more that 4 or 5 weddings per year (I'm already commited to one charity wedding for 2010), but I really enjoy wedding photography. It is hard to find a stock contract that communicates that.
12/29/2009 10:47:31 AM · #4
Originally posted by jasonlprice:

Thanks Skip, I actually did start with a standard template contract, but modified it. The main thing that I want to communicate is that A. I'm not a wedding pro and recommend that you hire one, B. My fees are high (although not quite as high as the regional average) because it is hard WORK and I feel my fee is commensurate with my talent and C. You know what you are getting if you still want to hire me.

I don't want to shoot more that 4 or 5 weddings per year (I'm already commited to one charity wedding for 2010), but I really enjoy wedding photography. It is hard to find a stock contract that communicates that.


If you're doing it for money, you're a pro, regardless of what's in your contract.

What you're really communicating is insecurity and a lack of confidence. If you don't want to shoot more than 4 or 5 weddings, simply don't book more than that.

12/29/2009 11:37:53 AM · #5
Originally posted by Spazmo99:


If you're doing it for money, you're a pro, regardless of what's in your contract.

What you're really communicating is insecurity and a lack of confidence. If you don't want to shoot more than 4 or 5 weddings, simply don't book more than that.


In my humble opinion "doing it for money" is the last criteria I would use for defining a pro. We all know people who charge for wedding snap shots and give the bride a disk, but do we consider them pro? I agree that what I'm communicating is insecurity and lack of confidence which is not the case at all thus the reason I posted this here and need help with wording. How can I communicate confidence and at the same time make it clear that I am not a pro (which means experience, practice (more than the occasional weekend wedding), insurance, a certain level of quality or "repeatability of style", backup shooters, etc).

By my own admitance of not wanting to do more that 4 or 5 weddings a year I am saying that I do not want to be a wedding pro at this time. That does not mean that I want to do 4 or 5 charity weddings a year either. It is a catch 22 I suppose.
12/29/2009 11:45:25 AM · #6
Originally posted by jasonlprice:

Originally posted by Spazmo99:


If you're doing it for money, you're a pro, regardless of what's in your contract.

What you're really communicating is insecurity and a lack of confidence. If you don't want to shoot more than 4 or 5 weddings, simply don't book more than that.


In my humble opinion "doing it for money" is the last criteria I would use for defining a pro. We all know people who charge for wedding snap shots and give the bride a disk, but do we consider them pro? I agree that what I'm communicating is insecurity and lack of confidence which is not the case at all thus the reason I posted this here and need help with wording. How can I communicate confidence and at the same time make it clear that I am not a pro (which means experience, practice (more than the occasional weekend wedding), insurance, a certain level of quality or "repeatability of style", backup shooters, etc).

By my own admitance of not wanting to do more that 4 or 5 weddings a year I am saying that I do not want to be a wedding pro at this time. That does not mean that I want to do 4 or 5 charity weddings a year either. It is a catch 22 I suppose.


I have to disagree with you Jason, a Professional Baseball player becomes Pro when he starts getting paid to play Baseball. A Professional Photographer becomes Pro when they start getting paid to take pictures.
12/29/2009 12:11:43 PM · #7
jason, the point i wanted to make is the difference between 'sales' talk and 'lawyer' talk. you can try to talk people out of hiring you by telling them you don't do this full-time and that you are offering a bargain-basement product, but you want your contract to spell out both your and your client's obligations. you'll get better advice from an attorney than you'll get here...
12/29/2009 12:31:13 PM · #8
Jason- I'm kinda in the same situation as you although I've branched beyond friends and family over the last two years. Drop me an email and I'll forward the one I use.

Initially I was very careful to set expectations based on my experience. Not in writing, just pre-consultation. I'm not sure I ever scared a client off, but if I did, at least it was because their expectations didn't match my personal ones. I'll bet you are selling yourself short on your ability... :)
12/29/2009 12:45:39 PM · #9
Originally posted by jasonlprice:

Originally posted by Spazmo99:


If you're doing it for money, you're a pro, regardless of what's in your contract.

What you're really communicating is insecurity and a lack of confidence. If you don't want to shoot more than 4 or 5 weddings, simply don't book more than that.


In my humble opinion "doing it for money" is the last criteria I would use for defining a pro. We all know people who charge for wedding snap shots and give the bride a disk, but do we consider them pro? I agree that what I'm communicating is insecurity and lack of confidence which is not the case at all thus the reason I posted this here and need help with wording. How can I communicate confidence and at the same time make it clear that I am not a pro (which means experience, practice (more than the occasional weekend wedding), insurance, a certain level of quality or "repeatability of style", backup shooters, etc).

By my own admitance of not wanting to do more that 4 or 5 weddings a year I am saying that I do not want to be a wedding pro at this time. That does not mean that I want to do 4 or 5 charity weddings a year either. It is a catch 22 I suppose.


Legally, those guys who simply hand over a disk are considered "pro", regardless of what anyone else thinks.

I understand what you're trying to do, but your contract isn't the place to do it. Like Skip says, a lawyer will be able to give you better legal advice than what you'll get here.

12/29/2009 01:12:05 PM · #10
Im insanely confused by this thread. If you don't feel that you can properly photograph a wedding with consistency, why even offer it? If I saw that contract, I would immediately tell you to get lost.
12/29/2009 02:12:48 PM · #11
Originally posted by Skip:

jason, the point i wanted to make is the difference between 'sales' talk and 'lawyer' talk. you can try to talk people out of hiring you by telling them you don't do this full-time and that you are offering a bargain-basement product, but you want your contract to spell out both your and your client's obligations. you'll get better advice from an attorney than you'll get here...


Skip, I think your advice is very good and I greatly appreciate it, and thanks for the links. I'm mixing up my feelings with my legalities and it isn't working :)
12/29/2009 02:27:31 PM · #12
Originally posted by AJSullivan:

Im insanely confused by this thread. If you don't feel that you can properly photograph a wedding with consistency, why even offer it? If I saw that contract, I would immediately tell you to get lost.


I've edited the original message to strike out all but the point I want to discuss here. I do feel I can photograph a wedding with consistancy, I just want to make it clear in writing that there are benefits to hiring a pro wedding photographer that I don't have. I will not be providing a bargain-basement product, I am confident that I can "over deliver" on any job I take. I think Skip and Mark are right on track that I'm approaching this wrong by putting it in writing, I just need to discuss it with the clients and let the legalize lawyer stuff speek for itself in the contract.

PS. I realize it is a strange thing to try and discourage clients from hiring you, but at this point in my life I do not want to become a wedding pro. I do like wedding photography though and hope to get a couple of paid weddings in 2010 so I can't re-invest in equipment and get some insurance.

Message edited by author 2009-12-29 14:32:55.
12/29/2009 02:55:41 PM · #13
Originally posted by CoreyFitz:


I have to disagree with you Jason, a Professional Baseball player becomes Pro when he starts getting paid to play Baseball. A Professional Photographer becomes Pro when they start getting paid to take pictures.


Ok if we use your definition of a pro it still falls apart with me. Being a professional baseball player does not make you a professional basketball player just as getting paid for portrait sessions, or fine art does not make me a professional wedding photographer.

When a client calls up and says "You are truly an artist, I love your pictures. Will you please take my wedding pictures." I want to convey to them the risk in that logic and that being a true wedding pro involves much more that taking pretty pictures. If they understand that risk and still want to hire me (perhaps because they like my work and want to take the risk) then that is the client I can feel comfortable working with. If they choose to hire a wedding pro then I will have established a reputation of honesty and integrity within the client community and photography community.
12/29/2009 03:26:03 PM · #14
I'd say Pro is when you earn more than 50% of your yearly income from photography.

If you have 10 photos on a microstock site and you sell 5 over the course of a year at $0.35 each, does that make you pro?
12/29/2009 03:49:44 PM · #15
Originally posted by Simms:

I'd say Pro is when you earn more than 50% of your yearly income from photography.

If you have 10 photos on a microstock site and you sell 5 over the course of a year at $0.35 each, does that make you pro?


I think that is a good definition. It is not tied to any percieved idea of "quality".
12/29/2009 07:34:07 PM · #16
Originally posted by jasonlprice:

Originally posted by Simms:

I'd say Pro is when you earn more than 50% of your yearly income from photography.

If you have 10 photos on a microstock site and you sell 5 over the course of a year at $0.35 each, does that make you pro?


I think that is a good definition. It is not tied to any percieved idea of "quality".


Uh huh, although I will agree with the others by saying you are sounding rather defeatist with your contract. Not sure what advice I would give, but maybe if you dont feel confident enough to shoot their wedding, maybe it would be best for everyone to steer clear - or maybe assist a pro at some point to get the experience - thats how I started out and to be honest both the good AND the bad stuff I learn helped me heaps.
12/29/2009 08:19:58 PM · #17
I am going to agree with Simms (yeah shock horror!!! =p

look at his port, he is really good at what he does , take his advice. I know I would
12/29/2009 09:31:53 PM · #18
Originally posted by jasonlprice:

I've edited the original message to strike out all but the point I want to discuss here. I do feel I can photograph a wedding with consistancy, I just want to make it clear in writing that there are benefits to hiring a pro wedding photographer that I don't have. I will not be providing a bargain-basement product, I am confident that I can "over deliver" on any job I take. I think Skip and Mark are right on track that I'm approaching this wrong by putting it in writing, I just need to discuss it with the clients and let the legalize lawyer stuff speek for itself in the contract.

PS. I realize it is a strange thing to try and discourage clients from hiring you, but at this point in my life I do not want to become a wedding pro. I do like wedding photography though and hope to get a couple of paid weddings in 2010 so I can't re-invest in equipment and get some insurance.


Wanting to CYA if you don't feel like you're entirely ready is a fine thing but I think you've come to the right conclusions here. Managing client expectations is something you should do right away, upfront...when they first inquire. Taking thde time to educate them about the difference in picking you vs an experience professional is an excellent thing to do. Don't leave that for the fine print of your legal documents. Kudos to you for wanting to make sure they understand, though...there are plenty of folks willing to buy a dslr one day and sell themselves as a wedding photographer the next. :)
12/29/2009 10:05:29 PM · #19
Jason, perhaps the idea you may wish to convey is that although you have the required competence, wedding photography is not one of your specialties, or, not your greatest area of expertise.

12/30/2009 09:18:01 AM · #20
Originally posted by jasonlprice:

Originally posted by Simms:

I'd say Pro is when you earn more than 50% of your yearly income from photography.

If you have 10 photos on a microstock site and you sell 5 over the course of a year at $0.35 each, does that make you pro?


I think that is a good definition. It is not tied to any percieved idea of "quality".


Thats crazy talk.

If I make 20k a year and 10k is from photo, im a pro, but if I make 200k a year and 90k is from photo, I'm not?

If youre getting paid, you are a pro. You may not be a good pro, but youre a pro.
12/30/2009 10:33:48 AM · #21
Originally posted by AJSullivan:

Originally posted by jasonlprice:

Originally posted by Simms:

I'd say Pro is when you earn more than 50% of your yearly income from photography.

If you have 10 photos on a microstock site and you sell 5 over the course of a year at $0.35 each, does that make you pro?


I think that is a good definition. It is not tied to any percieved idea of "quality".


Thats crazy talk.

If I make 20k a year and 10k is from photo, im a pro, but if I make 200k a year and 90k is from photo, I'm not?

If youre getting paid, you are a pro. You may not be a good pro, but youre a pro.


Obviously a certain degree of common sense needs to be applied to the rule. Someone who earns 90k a year from photography and 110k from another career surely is an exceptional case.

But lets turn that on its head and apply your logic - I earn 30k a year in my regular job, but earn $150 extra one year from photography - does THAT make me a pro? If thats the case then that makes 50% of the regular contributors to DPC professional photographers as I know a lot of them have photos on microstock sites.

Message edited by author 2009-12-30 10:38:31.
12/30/2009 10:51:17 AM · #22
I think that the monetary amount does not matter at all. If you are putting yourself out there selling a product, no matter what the quality is, you are a professional photographer. As I said before, you may not be a GOOD photographer, but you are attempting to make money and sell a product or service.

Not your full time gig? Then you are a pro photog who works part time.

Hell, you can be a pro photog and not sell anything at all!
12/30/2009 11:02:07 AM · #23
Originally posted by AJSullivan:

I think that the monetary amount does not matter at all. If you are putting yourself out there selling a product, no matter what the quality is, you are a professional photographer. As I said before, you may not be a GOOD photographer, but you are attempting to make money and sell a product or service.

Not your full time gig? Then you are a pro photog who works part time.

Hell, you can be a pro photog and not sell anything at all!


Sorry mate, we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.
M xxx

12/30/2009 11:08:08 AM · #24
what defines a pro would make an excellent topic for another thread (hint), but do either of you guys have any more input to the OP's concerns?

:) :) :)
12/30/2009 11:14:32 AM · #25
hang in there, jason, and don't be too hard on yourself. also, don't sell yourself short.

put together a comprehensive shot list, research what types of images fit the list, then practice nailing those types of photos.

you don't have to be perfect to be successful. you just need to be committed.

when someone inquires about your services, simply meet with them and show them what you've done. tell them that even though you are not a full-time wedding photographer, you can deliver a nice value. get them to give you as many specifics as you can as to what they want and what they expect. if people see what you're capable of and feel that you're worth whatever you're asking, they'll hire you. then all you have to do is show up and do your best.

on the other hand, if you feel their expectations are beyond the reach of your equipment and/or experience, just tell them that they would be better served by someone else, but thanks for the consideration.

keep it simple. good luck!
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