Thinking of Breaking Your Wedding Photography Contract? Read This First.

photo by The Hearnes

If you came here looking for validation in ending your wedding photography contract with a client you’re feeling unsure about, you’re in for a surprise. Contracts are a binding agreement that need to be taken seriously. I’m not sure why so many photographers are looking to back out of contracts over what seems to be trivial things, because you can’t just terminate a contract in order to break up with a couple because you’re not feeling it. We’ve laid out a few of the most common instances where we’ve seen members of the wedding photography community question breaking their contract and how to handle those situations instead.

photo by Samuel Goh Photography

My Client’s Style Doesn’t Match Mine

There is this weird pressure to strictly shoot your ideal client, and while that is the best case scenario, it’s not always the reality of running a photography business. Yes, it is important to photograph what you love and what you’re passionate about, but it’s also important to pay your bills. Photographing a client that doesn’t meet your dream checklist isn’t the end of the world – it provides income and keeps you shooting. Instead of focusing on the vast stylistic differences between you and your client, try to remember that they inquired with you because they love your work! How cool is that? A couple is inviting you to be a part of the biggest day of their life, and they trust that you are the best person do photograph their day. And while you may not be stoked to photograph their wedding, try shooting it in a way that gets you excited about it. Remember that there was a reason you chose to move forward with this couple and book them. You chose to take this wedding on. Don’t sulk, and definitely do not end a contract because they’re not your style.

photo by Nicole Veldman Photography + Video

My Client’s Family Wants to Be Heavily Involved

Sometimes helicopter parents don’t stop hovering during childhood years and it continues into adulthood. If you have a couple’s parent(s) that is trying to take over and micromanage, kindly explain that you are here to serve the couple and their wants and wishes come first. “But I’m the one who is paying for your photography services, and…” Well, Mrs. Jones, as it states in my contract, I deal directly with the couple regardless of who is paying for my services. And photographers, if you don’t have a caveat in your contract that outlines this, maybe it’s time for a quick revisit to your agreement to add this detail. Contracts are binding and they are there to help and protect you and your couple. This addition could save you all a headache. And speaking of contracts being a binding agreement, having a heavily involved parent is no reason to break a contract with your couple. Your frustration is with the parent, not the couple.

photo by Still55 Weddings

I Received a Destination Wedding Inquiry For a Date I’m Already Booked

There will be instances when you will continue to receive inquiries for a date you are already booked for. The unspoken protocol in the photography community is to politely decline the wedding, explain you’re already booked, and send a list of referrals for the couple to go through. No where on that list says break up with a couple if you happen to receive a destination wedding inquiry. Your job as a photographer is to offer great customer service, photograph the heck out of the couple’s most important day of their life, and carry out the contractual obligation. Choosing to break up with a client so you can travel and shoot a different client’s wedding is shady, unprofessional, and just plain rude. The same goes for receiving an inquiry of a wedding that seems to be a better stylistic match than the wedding you’re currently booked for. Don’t even play around with the idea of breaking a contract for a different wedding. No. Just don’t.

photo by M2 Photography

My Couple Is Unhappy With the Engagement Pictures

As heartbreaking as it is to hear that a couple isn’t happy with images, it’s not enough reason to break a contract. Not yet, at least. Use this instance to open up dialogue with your couple and see what exactly they aren’t happy about regarding the images. Is it the editing style? Shooting style? Number of images delivered? Regardless, explain to them that this is typically what your clients receive and kindly educate them. If they are still unhappy, then you can delicately ask them if they think this is a good fit for the both of you with the option of terminating the contract so they can find a photographer better fitting for them. By bringing them into the decision process, you are allowing them to have a say and not blindsiding them with a contract termination. If they choose to end the contract, then go about signing a termination contract and, better yet, give them a list of photographers who may be a better fit for them.

photo by Brandi Potter Photo

Is Breaking a Contract Ever Okay?

While majority of the time there isn’t a valid reason to terminate a contract, there are one-off circumstances that call for breaking up with a couple. If there is a reason why you can’t physically be at a wedding, such as being hospitalized, then by all means, talk to your couple and take the necessary steps in cancelling the contract. Better yet, give them a list of referrals of photographers available for their date. If the couple is being abusive or severely disrespectful, then break up with them. No matter which instance it is that’s causing you to begin terminating a contract, remember to handle the process with grace, kindness, and decisiveness. You are here to serve the couple with great customer service from the very beginning to the very end, even with the ending of a contract. Regardless of the reason, a termination contract that outlines the ending of the agreement will be needed and must be signed by you and your couple.

photo by  Catherine Coons Photography

Guys, contracts aren’t the enemy. Needing to terminate a contract may be necessary from time-to-time, but 99% of the time it is not necessary. Contracts are here to protect you and the couple. You all signed the same piece or paper (or online document – thanks, technology) outlining an agreement that you and your couple agreed to. Part of that agreement is for you to show up on their wedding day and provide a service. Wanting to end that agreement over something superficial as they’re not your style or you received a “better” inquiry for the same date is ridiculous. It’s time to put on your big boy and big girl pants and follow through with your commitment. Use these instances as learning opportunities to better prepare yourself for future inquiries. If you see similarities in future inquiries that could put you in the position you’re currently in, then don’t book with that couple. Learn, grow, and be kind.

(3) comments

  1. Thank you Colleen, that was fantastic! I couldn’t agree more!
    “Yes, it is important to photograph what you love and what you’re passionate about, but it’s also important to pay your bills.”

  2. Thanks for sharing your Information,very useful information

  3. Thanks for sharing such a detailed article. It took lot of time to read but it’s worth for me. Thanks again and keep sharing article like this!

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