I am so happy to introduce today’s guest blogger, Desiree Nguyen Orth of Desiree Nguyen Legal! Desiree is a wealth of knowledge because not only is she California licensed attorney for creative small business owners, but she is a photographer herself and truly understands the ins and outs of the industry. I highly recommend working with her (no need to be local- she is available via phone and email!) for all legal matters surrounding your business needs.
Who Signs the Contract?
Guest post by Desiree Nguyen Orth, attorney for creative professionals of Desiree Nguyen Legal
One of the most common questions I get asked is, the bride’s great aunt is paying for the photography, should she sign the contract too?
The short answer is a hard no.
Your contract, especially wedding contracts, acts as a guide for the relationship between you and your client, and as a safety net. It should spell out the duties you owe each other in order for you both to perform your duties (e.g.: communication before the wedding, payment, how long delivery takes, artistic license, etc.), as well as what happens in the event of a breach of contract, or if one or both of you cannot perform under the agreement.
Because photography is such a subjective field and weddings are so emotional, having a clear understanding is so important to your (you and you clients’) success. The contract helps set expectations. I think many of us already understand the importance of working with clients who love our work. We want them to review our portfolios, check out Instagram, know what we’re all about before they book because it’s crucial to their satisfaction at the end of the day.
Gold star to the people who know that the two spouses should sign the contract because they also need to sign or withhold from the model release, but double gold star if you know not to add the third party payor to the contract. The contract is all about binding the parties to each other with duties.
You do not want to owe a duty to bride’s great aunty who only cares about grip and grins with her gin rummy friends. The contract defines who your clients are, and if you add another client who’s interests are different from you couple clients’, you’re going to have a lot more work to do and a lot more exposure to risk. If great aunty is unsatisfied with the photos, she can sue you, even though she probably won’t have a good case for it, you’ll end up paying more money and time to defend yourself, than you would have if there wasn’t a contract with her to begin with.
Side note here: I know that sometimes a third party finds your services on behalf of a couple and you communicate back and forth with the third person. From a business strategy point of view, you want to make sure that the couple has reviewed your work and actually truly wants to work with you first. The signing would also be with only the couple, regardless of who is paying.
The next time this happens, tell your couple, I can happily send the bill to whomever you’d like, but only you two will be in the contract (and yes, they’ll also be the ones on the hook if the payor doesn’t pay).
About the Author
(Photo courtesy of Zoe Larkin Photography)
Desiree Nguyen Orth is a California licensed attorney and photographer who owns Desiree Nguyen Legal. Desiree Nguyen Legal is a modern law firm for creative small business owners using a holistic approach to legal protections and damage prevention.
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The information provided is for educational use only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed by commenting or submitting anything on this site. Please contact Desiree Nguyen Orth or an attorney barred in your state for individual legal attention.