Over the years I’ve had people ask me about what kind of contract I use for my photography clients. Since the majority of my clients have been brides and grooms, I created a wedding photographer contract. Not every word of my contract is original, I must admit; I borrowed bits and pieces from contracts that I liked which I felt applied to my work and clients. After many years of massaging the contract, I feel like my contract is really thorough (it’s about 3 pages printed) and it seems to strike a balance between stating the obvious and a little legal jargon. I should say that the former – laying out what is expected of you and what the client expects – is one of the most important aspects of the contract. In my experience, when both parties know what is expected of each other, the chance of everyone being happy is extremely high.
When I meet with a bride and groom, I provide them with a packet of printed material to take home. The packet includes these 5 things:
- Questionaire (which I keep)
- Package Pricing List
- Frequently Asked Questions
These are all documents I spent a great amount of time developing so that my clients would be clear on what I would be providing and at what price. I also felt like providing these documents in a succinct manner would convey professionalism – something that every industry could always use a little more of. Each document is formatted to appear balanced and easily readable, and includes watermarks, contact information and the Austin Americana logo.
When meeting with brides who want a separate bridal portrait session I also provide a list of possible outdoor portrait locations around Austin. As you might guess the list gets longer every year with so many wonderful photo venues in Central Texas.
Therefore, in the spirit of sharing, I’m publishing a copy of the contract, frequently asked questions and schedule example that I’ve been using for years. I’m sharing it for strictly academic purposes and I’m certainly not providing any legal advice. But if you’re new to the business of photography, feel free to print a copy of it if you think it can help you.
Links to documents:
Austin Americana recently shot this “Cake Smash” with our favorite baby model, Sophia! It was lots of fun photographing her as she discovered that getting messy on her 1st birthday was ok…
Austin Americana’s latest photo session was at the Oasis on Lake Travis. The Oasis has gotten a reputation for being one of the best spots in the Austin area to see a sunset over the lake, and it never fails to deliver a fantastic view. The Oasis sits high above Lake Travis, in the rocky outcrops – creating an ideal place for enjoying a cool drink and watching the sun go down. And it’s also a great place to be photographed or to get married…
Latest Wedding Photos Update:
Later this week I’m going to be posting some beautiful photos of one of the last weddings that I photographed near Dripping Springs, Texas, at a place called Driftwood Winery. More and more wineries and vineyards are springing up every day in Central Texas, and Driftwood Winery is a special place that worth visiting for the Texas wine conesieur and traveler alike. More about that later…
What’s happening now:
Have you ever needed a service on short notice? Frequently we need services on short notice, such as a plumber or auto repair. And in a high demand world where there is more and more demand for services to be done quickly, Austin Americana Photography is stepping forward and offering photography service that is ready on short notice!
Wedding photographers have to be ready on short notice anyway and are required to be mobile in nature. After all, weddings happen quickly and are unfolding at a rapid pace – which can be a challenge for any wedding photographer. But after photographing dozens of weddings, I can tell you that the challenge of photographing a wedding eventually just becomes a standard part of the job – which is handled with good planning, foresight and experience.
But what if you need a photographer today or tomorrow, on short notice? Most photographers would probably say no, that is, if they answer their phone. In fact, many businesses in general expect to be allowed a certain amount of time between jobs to prepare or gather resources. But as a wedding photographer, I can tell you that Austin Americana Photography, much like emergency service providers, usually has equipment at the ready if we’re called to a job on short notice.
So when a bride who lived outside of Austin called us recently requesting a next day bridal photography session, my answer was of course, “Yes we can provide quick photographic service.” We also provide accelerated turnaround time for editing and printing if requested. And this kind of positive, good customer service has gotten Austin Americana lots of happy clients and more return business. And we’re really happy about making our clients satisfied, return customers. Now if we could just get a few of them to go to Yelp and leave us a review….
I was playing around with some photos I took while on an excursion to a berry farm and turned this photo of my son Roman into an infrared-looking image, something that was possible in the old days using infrared film for film cameras. Now we just use photo editing software to apply the effect to a digital image, and voila! I think it looks pretty cool! But perhaps that is because I like black and white images so much. Go figure…
So, during your event or wedding planning you’ve collected a few names of photographers that you plan to meet with. Perhaps you talked with friends or performed a Google search to find the Austin photographer that will ultimately be responsible for photographing your big event. It’s time to set up the meeting and you want to be prepared to make the most out of your appointment. How do you prepare?
The primary purpose of meeting, from the viewpoint of the client (you), is to determine if the photographer that you meet with is the right one for your upcoming event. Are they qualified? Are they experienced? Do you like their work? Do they fit into your photography budget? All of these and more are reasonable questions to ask, even if not worded so directly.
20 Questions to Ask a Photographer. As a professional photographer here in Austin, Texas, I’ve met with dozens of brides and heard just about every possible question that a new client might ask. From that experience, I’ve created a Q&A from the viewpoint of a new bride, i.e., what questions a bride asks a wedding photojournalist (link above). Although the questions are geared more towards weddings, many of the questions are universal for any event and can be applied to screening different kinds of events and professionals. The questions were developed by speaking with brides and doing research into what clients are looking for in a photographer. I’ve formulated the answers based on how I would answer the questions myself.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend asking a vendor every question that I’ve presented; instead, I recommend that clients look at the list of questions and see which ones seem relevant and important to their event. And those will be the questions that you will want to focus on during your photographer meeting.
So what happens when I meet with a bride and what does the typical bride do when meeting with Austin Americana Photography? Most clients I meet with know 2 essential things:
– when their event is; and
– have a general idea of what they want.
But brides are frequently so overwhelmed by wedding planning stress that they may be a little unclear about what questions to ask and the details.
Austin Americana makes it easy for brides, by providing them with:
-a packet of information, including a copy of my answers to typical questions a bride might ask;
-an example of our wedding day schedule;
– pricing/package list; and
-a copy of our contract.
And all of which are discussed in our 15-20 meeting. One thing I don’t like is pressuring people, so my object when meeting with a bride/client is to ask them what they need, present them with some basic information about what Austin Americana Photography does and let them decide. And this kind of transparency in business has been (and I predict will remain) a successful strategy.
Feel free to contact me personally by email if you have questions about this blog: AustinAmericana@Gmail.com
Martin Whitton is a wedding photojournalist in Austin, Texas. He blogs on the subject of weddings, photographs Austin events and provides business consulting services to small business owners in the greater Austin area, where he resides with his family.
I recently attended a training class about managing time and priorities. Essentially it was an organizational class teaching students how to be more efficient by eliminating or speeding up the normal tasks we perform every day. It was a helpful class and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs that kind of training. The reason it comes to mind is that sitting here at 9pm on a Sunday night I’m feeling exhausted and wondering how (or why) I decided to fit so many things into my calendar this weekend.
In my time management class the instructor told us that we should have no more than three (3) major events or projects going on at one time, either professional or social (combined). For example a person might be juggling their career, their family and be a member of a soccer league. Those three things, according to our instructor, make up a complete schedule of things to do or for which to be responsible. Anything more would mean that your life balance might break down and essentially something would get “short-changed”.
This weekend felt like I exceeded my threshold for things to do, between family time, personal commitments and shooting a wedding and a bridal photography session. Just being on the road caused enough challenges. On Saturday alone, I bounced from Austin to Pflugerville, to Lockhart and Dripping Springs, sometimes in different cars and including wardrobe changes. But I have to say, other than the weather being hot and humid, I still feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate and be a part of so many people’s lives in so many facets.
Later this week I hope to blog a little more about a new wedding venue just outside Austin (new to me). It’s a vineyard called Driftwood Winery and it’s a wonderful place to have a wedding. Imagine sitting atop the highest hill you can imagine in the hill country, sipping on local texas wine and looking down upon dozens of acres of grapes. It’s a pretty fulfilling and relaxing experience just enjoying the ambience of such a place, even without all the pomp and excitement of a wedding. More to come on that later…