Design Aglow's Studio Policies for Success aims to make your photography business run smooth as silk while avoiding all too common problems that plague even the most experienced photographers. Feel free to use our recommendations as is or modified to suit your needs, and you can thank us later *wink*.
The Policy: “Be a stickler for contracts and payments.”
Why it's important: A contract cannot be processed without a non-refundable retainer. A retainer cannot be deposited without a signed contract. One without the other can turn into a disaster, because if you deposit a retainer without a signed contract, the client has no obligation to you. If you sign a contract without receiving the retainer, that can create confusion for the client because a signed contract is confirmation of receiving the retainer.
The simple point is this: the contract and non- refundable retainer must both be present to officially block a date. (And by the way: a deposit can be refunded, a retainer cannot. Always refer to that first payment by the term retainer.)
How this helps with your success: It's much better to be in a position where you have the option for flexibility within your contract than it is to be forced out of compensation because you weren't covered properly. It's important to communicate to your client that they are essentially buying your time on the designated date, and that this prevents you from accepting money from anyone else for that date.
You should also clearly communicate that there are three required payments on your payment schedule: The first payment is due with the contract, as the retainer. The second should be due 90 days before the wedding and the final payment should be received 30 days before the wedding. In the event the 30 day payment is not received, your contract should state that you will not be able to provide photography services.
Also, we never recommend collecting money from a client on the day of a wedding. Not only is your payment one more thing on a very long list of things to remember, but asking a bride for a check on her wedding day can feel funny for everyone. The best way around it is to simply arrange all payments before the wedding day arrives.
See more Wedding Policies for Success and learn procedures for the many challenges are common with wedding photography. Your clients will appreciate having professional policies that they can both understand and respect. Never worry about the threat of a wedding crisis turning into a legal and logistical nightmare. For a bulletproof wedding contract, click here.
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I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.
Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
Hello! I am a portrait photographer based south of Boston, MA. My passion is capturing mothers and their growing families. Maternity and newborn portraits are the foundation of my business, and I also capture baby milestones, children, and families. Fun fact: I returned the diamond earrings my husband bought me for our first Christmas as a married couple to buy a digital camera.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.