Weddings are full of something old, something new, and something blue…at least in the bride’s mind. As a creative industry professional, photographer or videographer, it is your responsibility to fill the legal gaps that may not be necessarily apparent to the client to ensure their day goes off without a hitch.
Events such as weddings are a “can’t-redo-it” event as there is great monetary and logistic investment (read: getting all family together in one place) on the part of the client. As a professional photographer, it is imperative that we are on-point to capture the day and fulfill the agreement to the client.
Let’s take a look at the key legal things you need to help protect you and keep you on the road to success!
1. Insurance Policies
No matter the business formation chosen (See: Quick Legal Checklist: How to start a photography business – the right way!), insurance should be secured to fill the gaps that contracts and formations may not provide. At a minimum, a wedding photographer should carry liability and equipment insurance.
The liability insurance is a must to bridge the gaps between business formation and contract protections. This insurance protects the insured, the Photographer, from risks of liabilities of lawsuits and other similar claims. This will protect the Photographer and their business if they are faced with a lawsuit arising from the wedding. Note: Some wedding venues require photographers to provide proof of this type of insurance before they may be allowed to engage in business on their property.
The equipment insurance acts to aid the photographer in fulfilling future commitments if equipment is damaged/lost. Note: Not all homeowner/renters policies will cover equipment damaged/lost when used for business. Always check your policy.
2. Back-Up Measures
Due to the “can’t-reshoot” nature of weddings, having back-up measures in place is not only a smart and common-sense move but is a professional requirement. These backup measures include back-up equipment and back-up photographers. Despite the attentive care that may be given to equipment, technology fails. Having a back-up setup, cards, and batteries (at a minimum) are a requirement for a wedding photographer to fulfill their legally bound service to the client. Further, sickness or accidents may arise that prevent the primary photographer from fulfilling their duties, therefore, a back-up photographer should be on stand-by in the event of an emergency. Always have a backup plan!
3. Wedding Photography Contract
This document is an agreement or a promise that has legally binding rights and obligations that can be legally enforced. It also outlines the responsibilities of both parties including time, place, money, products, and services. Snag your own wedding contract template here. This agreement should also go a step further to outline all specifics, cancellation policy, late policy, reproduction rights, expectations of both parties, guarantees, and waiver of responsibility in certain events. This list is not all inclusive. See More Contracts 101 Info. Outlining expectations and culminating the relationship into a legal document will help to ward off any potential issues and set the relationship up for success.
4. Independent Contractor Photography Contract
Working with a second-shooter or assistant on an Independent Contractor (IC) basis demands the use of an agreement between primary photographer and the IC. Note: IC’s are not merely given IC status by labeling them as such. The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done. You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed. (Internal Revenue Service given guidance).
When engaging in business, it is so important that business relationships and contracts are only entered in when the professional can, in good faith, promise and deliver the expected experience and quality of product. Being in an unregulated industry, such as photography, leaves the standard for experience to be very vague and dependent upon individual. Every professional has a different opinion on when someone is ready to secure weddings and deliver upon their promises. A baseline standard should include previous exposure to animal of wedding photography and being able to produce a consistent product.