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  • Meet Caroline

    A few things you should know about me...I am passionate about creating wedding photos that are natural, romantic and timeless. My approach to portrait time is to create timeless imagery that captures you two and your unique love in an honest, but gorgeously composed way that looks almost candid. Not a model? No problem! I believe it's a photographer's job, not yours to help you look and feel comfortable in front of the camera! I work in both medium format film and some digital. Film because of its beautiful, soft, fine art qualities and perfect skin tones, and digital because of it's reliability in low light situations.

    In my spare time I read, write poetry, music and mentor other women. Brunch is my favorite meal of the day and my drink of choice is a French 75.

    But enough about me... I look forward to hearing more about you and your wedding plans!

Making Your First Photography Contract

 

Hi Caroline,
My name is Marta, I live in Australia and I am in the process of starting my own photography business. I have been a fan of your photography for a while, absolutely gorgeous images!
I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind possibly answering a few questions for a newbie? I would love to know about contracts and what I should involve in my contract as I have no idea.
Thanks
Marta

I received a question this week from a photographer in Australia with a question I think all of us photographers were asking somebody at some point in our career.   What do I put in my wedding photography contract?  Well, I’m no lawyer, so please don’t take this as fact or official legal advice, but as I mentioned in my apple-picking post a few weeks ago, I am a person who tends to see how any given situation could go wrong and this is one of those rare cases where it comes in handy!  Here are just a few items to make sure you write in there to protect both you and your client.

1. What happens if your sick?

While nobody plans on being sick, things can happen that would prevent you from being with someone on their wedding day.  I work hard to keep myself healthy and safe, but still you never know!  In my contract, I make sure to let clients know that I make every effort to be a part of their day (and I’m sure to communicate in person that a cold or even a fever wouldn’t stop me from being there), but if I cannot be there due to hospitalization, grave illness, extreme weather or another act of God,  I will make reasonable efforts to find a replacement.  If I am unable to find a replacement,  all deposits will be returned.  This is why I’m so grateful that I’m part of such a large network of New York Photographers and I know one of them would come to my aid if the need arose.  (This is an argument for why to make friends with other wedding photographers!!  Another post I’ll probably do later…)

2. Let Client Know You Are Prepared

Give your clients peace of mind in the contract and let them know that you carry back up equipment in case something breaks or goes wrong (and then of course, actually bring it- even if you have to rent it!)  Technology is making so many advances and many of us have top of the line equipment, but that doesn’t mean something can’t go wrong so make sure you have at least two of everything that is vital (and many many CF cards and batteries).  Also, put in that you make reasonable efforts to protect their digital files.  I back mine up on a hard-drive and online with blackblaze in case of a flood or fire. Don’t forget to say how long you keep their files for!  I personally don’t guarantee keeping them past one year.  I do try to keep them permanently, but I don’t want the responsibility on me and therefore encourage clients in my contract to back up their own files once they receive them.

3. Copyright and Printing

This is the big one.   Make it clear who owns copyright after the digital files are delivered (if they are included) and if its you, what the client is and isn’t allowed to do with the photos.  For my part, I always retain copyright, but I put in my contract that I release the photos for their personal printing use and for use on Social Media with the condition that credit is given to me for the photos.   They need this to take the files to some printing labs and even sometimes a Walgreens won’t print if they see your copyright is on the file (which it should be- you can do this in Lightroom).  The print release in the contract allows the client to get prints made.   I make clear in the contract that copying, sharing, publishing or editing the photos in anyway without my permission is illegal.  If digital files aren’t included, mention how much they are to purchase in your contract, so its clear to clients what they are getting and what they aren’t so no one is upset later.

4. Cancellation/Timeliness Policy

Make it clear what your booking policy is.  Are deposits non-refundable in the case of a date change or cancellation for any reason?  If you aren’t dealing with a wedding, what about timeliness?  If the client is 15 or 30 or an hour late to their session,  do they get that time made up, or do they lose it?  All of these are important things to make clear in your contract.

5. Limit your Liability

Its important to limit your liability in the case of any of the negative situations befalling you like loss of files or illness that prevents you from being at the wedding.  I limit my liability to the return of all deposits made.

6. Meals/Travel/Other Costs

Make clear what costs are included in the contract and what items you expect the client to pay for later.  Will there be a travel invoice after the wedding?  What will it include?  Also, for wedding photographers, make sure to put it your contract that you expect one hot meal for you and all your shooters (if you do) in the case of a full day wedding.  I think its so important to get proper nutrition when you are working so hard on your feet for 8 hours or more on the wedding day, and thankfully my clients agree too!

7. Set Expectations

I make sure my clients know that while I make reasonable efforts to capture all the important moments of the day, that I can’t guarantee any particular moments captured.   I also recommend that if they have specific photos they really want, that they get a list to me at least one week before the wedding.  No one usually does this, but it’s important to have there because you put the responsibility of them communicating their wants and needs to you because hey, we aren’t mind readers right?  That said, I do take initiative on this too, and ask the bride and groom in our pre-wedding meeting (about two months or so before the big day) for a list of desired family photos with names and roles (ie Jennifer-Mother of the Bride) and anything else important to them that they want captured that I may not notice.

This doesn’t by any means cover everything, but it gives you some things to think about!  Definitely consult your lawyer on wording and anything that might be particular to you or your business!   As time goes on you will come across situations or have experiences that will make you think, “Hrm, I should probably make that more clear in my contract”…and in that way your contract develops and grows with you overtime.  I’m sure I forgot a million important details so if you have any other advice for Marta and photographers like her, please leave a comment on anything you think is vital for photography contracts!

 

<3 Caroline

 

Megan - December 7, 2012 - 8:33 pm

Hi!! Thanks for the great information today! Do you backup all if the Raw files on Backblaze also? Does it take a really long time? Thanks so much!

admin - December 8, 2012 - 1:29 am

Hey Megan! Yes I do back up with backblaze and onto a separate hard drive and yes it takes forever for me too! :-/

marta - December 21, 2012 - 3:12 am

Thanks Caroline for such excellent info, really appreciate it!

Mike and Jenna | NYC Wedding and Engagement Photographer

To start on this freezing NYC day, everything seemed against us.   It was super cloudy and dark, the weather was freezing, and Jenna and I both got stuck in such bad traffic (even in though it was early afternoon!), that we each jumped out of our separate taxis to get on the subway in order to get to our meeting place on time.    But then some NYC engagement session magic happened.  Mike and Jenna’s roof turned out to be a gorgeous place for photos with plenty of light that high up, and Jenna braved the cold in a to-die-for lace dress.  Mike was a gentleman, as he usually is Jenna informed me, offering to carry all the bags and secretly trying to keep Jenna warm during the photos… Then even more magic happened when we came to Battery Park- the sun came out and shed some gorgeous light turning this Sandy-beaten park into a warm (looking) beachy dream.   When the session was over, we were all eager to get warm, and they generously took me out for wine and appetizers afterwards where we had a great time chatting about their April wedding,  California, Napa and family.  This classic, hardworking NYC power-couple are putting on the wedding themselves at Guastavino’s, a spectacular venue with its high ceilings made from the underbelly of the Queensboro bridge.  I simply can’t wait! 

Mike and Jenna, thanks for an amazing time and for putting your trust in me throughout the day to find us the perfect light filled photos.   Can’t wait to photograph your wedding!

Makeup by the amazing Stacey Owen

Amy Rizzuto - December 5, 2012 - 1:07 pm

LOVE IT Caroline! Such pretty light by the water…the photographs truly glow! My favorite is the second to last B&W photo. I love the clean lines and it really is a romantic shot. :)

Jenna Amicucci - December 5, 2012 - 9:28 pm

I love that photo too Amy! Caroline did a great job! Looks funny to see us all dressed up, ;) So excited to see more, awesome!

Mara Measor | An NYC Singer/Songwriter

My dear friend Mara and I had some fun at Central Park a couple weekends back getting her some head shots for her website and soon to come album.  They came out so lovely I just had to share with all of you!

Mara is one of those rare combinations of a female who search deeply in to themselves, but at the same time is a lot of fun to be around.  She and I met at NYU and sensed right away that we had a lot in common.  Though I don’t see this lovely lady as often as I’d like to, whenever I do, I know I am in for a very good conversation.  Often I’ll come back from my coffee dates with Mara and Alex will ask me, “Where is she working now?” or “Where is she living?” and I couldn’t tell him.  Mara and I tend to just jump right in to our in depth conversations, we often forget to cover the basic small talk!  I just love this lady so much.  She is an amazing singer and song writer.  Be sure to check her out.

Brian and Eunice at the Cloisters | NYC Engagement Photography

Not far from the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan is a peaceful oasis I was lucky enough to discover my first year in the city.  Hop on the A train up to 190th street, stroll down Margaret Corbin Drive, past The New Leaf restaurant (a beautiful place for a wedding reception by the way) and you will come to a magical place called The Cloisters: a museum of medieval art built from the pieces of church ruins whose stones, once strewn about the European meadows, never thought they’d see the glory of a third story view again.  Adjacent to this museum, is the majestic Fort Tryon park, winding its way a long a wide cliff overlooking the Hudson river.

Sometimes you just have one of those magical sessions where the light is perfect, the  weather is perfect, the location is perfect, and the couple is perfectly adorable.   That was the case for Brian and Eunice who had just gotten engaged at The Cloisters three before our session.  Brian and Eunice, still giddy from their new engagement were so easy to photograph as their love shone through every image.   Both made such natural models, taking all my pointed directions with ease.   Brian originally contacted me to photograph the proposal, but opted last minute for an engagement session instead.   We were so fortunate in our choice of days,  as this sunny warm afternoon (though probably not so warm for these Southern Californians) was followed by an rainy, icy miserable morning.  It was easy to get a long with Brian and Eunice when I discovered out our mutual love of Star Wars and Disneyland and the fact that soon the two will become united!  Eunice, I think, will find Brian an easy man to keep happy over the years given that Brian thought the most recent Star Wars movies weren’t all that terrible… ;-)  Both my Dad and Alex would both agree with you, though I do not.  Eunice and Brian I wish you guys so much love and happiness for your upcoming wedding and marriage!

judy pak - November 28, 2012 - 2:52 pm

ahhhh that light! i die!

Michelle - November 28, 2012 - 10:09 pm

Oh wow! Gorgeous light, Beautiful couple, Stunning photos.

Manoj - June 20, 2014 - 11:51 am

Wonderful photos! Did you need a permit to take photos at the cloisters?

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