I've had a few questions about certain parts of my contract recently and I wanted to write this blog post as the first in a series, unpicking my wedding/family session contract and explaining and clarifying in a bit more detail what it says, and more importantly, why it says it!
First of all, let me just say PLEASE READ YOUR CONTRACT! I know that sounds silly, but so many people just sign it without reading it properly. It's there to protect you and to protect me, so read it thoroughly and ask any questions about any of it. I'm here to help!
So, this first post relates to the 'Model Release' section of my Wedding Photography contract AND my Family Session Photography Contract. The model release for baby photography done at baby groups, where clients do not pay for the photos before they are taken, is slightly different and I will talk about that later. But, for now, let's discuss the Wedding and Family Photo Session Model Release. This is what it says in the contract:
'Model release: The Client hereby assigns the Company/Photographer the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use and publish photographs of the Client or in which the Client may be included, for editorial, trade, advertising, educational and any other purpose and in any manner and medium; to alter the same without restriction; and to copyright the same without restriction. The Client releases all claim to profits that may arise from use of images.'
Now, I can totally understand why this makes clients feel a bit wary, and a bit like they are signing their lives away to me, so allow me to explain what this section actually means, and what I will actually be doing with your photos.
For most couples, I will write a blog post (just like this one) for my website, that features some of my favourite photos from the day. They will be mostly photos of the couple together, lots of the 'details' photos of jewellery, shoes, flowers, cufflinks, etc, possibly a few of the bridal party (bridesmaids and groomsmen - especially if it's a big bridal party and you're all matching. I love it!). And if they fit in with the overall look/feel of the wedding, I may include a couple of the ceremony and confetti throw. I never include family/friends portraits, and wherever possible I try to avoid photos with guests in the background. I will never post photos of children without express permission.
So, in an ideal world, that's what I want to share on my blog, social media, and if there are photos of the couple that I particularly love, or that showcase something unique that other couples will be inspired by, they will go onto one of the pages on my website. I may use photos from family photo sessions to advertise on social media for other upcoming family shoots. in the same location. I want to share your photos because I am proud of the work I produce and I want to share it with the world! Your photos bring me happiness, and I want that to shine through on my website, so that future couples and families can see what they can be a part of too. But ultimately, the decision lies with you.
What the model release paragraph in your contract says is, essentially, that you agree that you are happy with me using your photos for these purposes.
But, what lots of couples and families don't seem to realise is that YOU DON'T HAVE TO AGREE TO THIS! It is entirely your choice!
I am a firm believer that NO is a full sentence, so if you don't want any photos at all online or on social media, then tell me and I will change the contract to say this.
It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can also say yes, with a boundary. You can say, photos only of the couple, with no guests at all. Fine, no problem.
You can say, no photos of faces. So, only photos of details, like your shoes, flowers, jewellery, dress, etc. Fine, no problem.
You can also say, you want the final say on what photos are used. Fine, no problem at all! I can make a 'favourites' folder in your final gallery of photos I would like to use, and you can OK it, or ask me to take out any you don't want included.
And this can ALL be written into the model release section of your contract.
I will never post anything online without your permission, and if I would like to submit your wedding to a magazine because it is stunningly wonderful and I want the world to see it, you absolutely have the final say in whether or not that happens.
Plus, you have the right to CHANGE YOUR MIND AT ANY POINT IN TIME - before the photos are taken, after, 10 years down the line. No problem. And you don't have to explain yourself to me. I'm not here to judge your decisions. If you change your mind, fine, no problem.
BABY GROUP PHOTOGRAPHY
This is a little bit different to the standard Wedding and Family Photoshoot Contracts.
I team up with several wonderful franchisees at Jiggy Wrigglers, which are baby and toddler groups that are fun and interactive and full of music and props and laughter. They are wonderful, and if you have a little one, you should DEFINITELY find your nearest class right away!
For special occasions, such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter, Jiggy Wrigglers have parties during their normal session times. I come along to the parties in the Southampton West area, run by the fabulous Kat. I set up a cute themed backdrop and take do a quick photo shoot with the babies and toddlers. The parents/carers then receive the small gallery of watermarked photos a few days after the session and can choose to make purchases of digital prints. They are under no obligation to buy anything at all (although they do make for great Christmas presents/Easter cards!).
Anyone who makes a purchase will later receive an email with the following model release:
'I explicitly grant to the photographer (Faye's Photos) and her licensees the absolute right and permission to use or publish the photograph(s) referred to below, in which I am included, in any medium, throughout the world, without any restriction whatsoever as to the nature of the use or publication or as to the copy of any printed matter accompanying the photograph(s). I understand that the images may be altered and I waive the right to approve of any finished product. I understand that I and the minor do not own the copyright of the photograph(s). I am of legal age and have the full legal capacity to contract for the minor in the above regard. I state further that I have read the above authorisation, release, and agreement, prior to its execution, and that I am fully familiar with the contents thereof. This release shall be binding upon the minor and me, and our respective heirs, legal representatives, and assigns.'
IT IS ENTIRELY UP TO THE PARENTS/CARERS WHETHER THEY SIGN THIS OR NOT! If you don't want to sign it, no problem, enjoy your photos, and see you again next time!
If you do sign it, then the photos will be used in a blog post with all of the other baby photos, chatting about how much fun the session was. They may also be used for advertising the same sessions the following year on social media.
Again, you have the right to change your mind AT ANY POINT about your child's photos being shared online.
There is one final scenario that I want to discuss, which is Model Calls.
Most photographers will do a model call at some point in their career. For me, when I wanted to start offering family photo sessions, I offered free sessions including all of the photos, to families in exchange for me being able to use them on my website and social media/advertising.
This is a little different, as you are going into the photo session with the expectation of your images being shared. However, you should still have a contract in place, and you still have the option of having your photos taken offline should your situation change at all.
You always have a choice with every photographer about what images can be shared, so don't be afraid to discuss it with whoever you choose to capture your special moments!