Wedding Planning & Tips

What to look for in your Wedding Photographer Contract

Last week I blogged about what questions to ask yourself when you look for a wedding photographer.  Today I want to educate you about what the industry standards are in Chattanooga.  There are a thousand ways to run a wedding industry business and everyone chooses to run their business in their own way.  That being said, there are some things that are considered industry standards in our community.

Chattanooga Wedding Photography Industry Standards

Photography is generally sold in packages and is priced based on a few things

    • Print release for digital images – Most Photographers now include personal print rights, sometimes called digital negatives, but NOT RAW files.  RAW files are not included as industry standard.  RAW files are GIANT unedited files that most computers can’t read without special software.  Some people think they want them, but trust me, you don’t as they will be of zero use and will cost you extra to obtain.
    • Number of hours of coverage – This will be the biggest point of discussion when it comes to price.  Some photographers only do 8 hours, some will do 2 hours, some will do 12 hours.  The standard “full day” is 8 hours.  You can get it all in 8 hours if you schedule it correctly, at least they way I do it.  There isn’t really a standard here, except that you can expect it to be addressed.
    • +/- Engagement session  – This can range as to what is included in the session as well as length.
    • Album – You will often get a better deal on your wedding album ordering it before the wedding.  Also, don’t kid yourself into thinking you will print one later.  You won’t girl.
    • Travel – Most photographers have 1-2 hour radius where they travel to your venue at no additional fee.  You can expect to pay travel fees like flight and/or mileage, hotel, and per diem if you want your photographer to travel further than that.  However, some photographers market themselves as “no travel fees” but be cautioned.  They are either just starting out, really want to go to your location (aka they want a vacation), or they have just inflated their pricing to cover travel.
    • Side Note:  The average price for wedding photography in Chattanooga by an EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONAL is $2500-$5000.

Contract standards – IF THEY DON’T HAVE A CONTRACT RUN AWAY

First things first, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t give legal advice.  These are just things I have in my contract and other things I know from my industry friends.  A contract should have things in it that protect the photographer AND things that protect you as the client.

    • Social Media – The photographer can legally share your photos in portfolio and on social media if not addressed in a contract in accordance with copyright law.  If you DON’T want this you should bring it up.  Contracts should include some verbiage about a “model release” that you agree to on signing.
    • Ownership – While you have purchased their service and print release to files you actually do NOT own the copyright to these photos.  This is copyright law, even if it is not in the contract but it is often included.
    • Meals – Most photographers require a meal be provided on days >6 hours.  This isn’t because we are bougie, but it is logistically nearly impossible for me to adequately cover your reception and prepare a meal for myself.  Your photographer will do a much better job if this is taken care of.  For plated meals, your caterer should ask how you want “vendor meals” covered.  You can either serve them whatever your guests are having *this is preferred* or most caterers will supply a “vendor meal” that is cheaper for you.  I want to also add that I ask to be served with the bridal party.  Why?  I want to eat while you and your guests eat so I don’t miss any moments after dinner.  If I wait until the end of serving or buffet line you and half your guests are done with your meal by the time I’ve received mine.  This will cause me to potentially miss fun moments with your guests after your dinner!
    • Sole Photographer – It is standard to have something in your contract agreeing that you are only contracting that photographer to photograph the event.  It is NOT cool to hire a 2nd or 3rd shooter without talking to your photographer.  It is also not cool to tell your cousin, who has a budding photography interest, she can shoot your wedding too.  There are too many toes to step on and a ton of reasons this is just a bad idea.
    • Retainer – Sometimes referred to as a “deposit” but the word deposit implies it is refundable so most people use the wording “non-refundable retainer” these days.  The amount will very from as little at 20% to as much as 50%.  Why do we need this?  #1 to cover the cost of an engagement session if done.  #2 To ensure you are serious when we take your day off our calendar from other potential bookings.
    • Payment in full – Most photographers require payment in full BEFORE your wedding day.  Why?  Because we take your wedding VERY seriously and we also take money very seriously.  If you cannot pay your balance and we don’t find out until the day of your wedding most of us would FEEL AWFUL leaving you without a wedding photographer.  We would also FEEL AWFUL working without payment if we shot your wedding anyway.  This is why the balance is due prior to the wedding, often 14-30 days before.  I have had clients question this because of all the horror stories floating around the internet about being 6 months without wedding photos after full payment.  In those cases I  direct my clients to all my references, reviews and reasons to trust me.  You should research your photographer thoroughly before hiring them so that you can trust them.  Additionally, it’s okay to ask for some sort of consequence or refund clause in your contract if the photos aren’t delivered by “x” date.
    • Cancellation – There should be a clause about cancellation and how it will be handled and literally everyone handles this differently.

golden hour snuggles

I hope this most was helpful for you!  Please comment below or email me if you have any questions about anything above at Sarahlaraephoto@gmail.com.  I’m happy to clarify your questions.

Hi! I’m Sarah Larae! Nice to Meet you!

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Chattanooga Photographer
chattanooga wedding photographer

Thank you for visiting my blog! I’m a wedding photographer based in Chattanooga and I would be honored if you took some time to look around my website to learn more about me and what I do. You can see more of my work on the blog and be sure to follow me on Instagram! If you are looking for a fun, bright, classic wedding photographer who prides herself on excellent client experiences head over to our contact page!