2 Strategies to using your photography contract for creative marketing

Sep 5, 2013

Topic: Business
Time Investment: 10 Minutes
Suggested Product:  Permission to sell photos agreement

Your contract can not only protect you legally but it can also be used to make more money.  Hallelujah!

We’re not talking about adding hidden fees in the teeny, tiny print, either.  That would be highly uncool.

What you include in your contract sets the stage for more wedding leads and maximum profits for your photography business.

Real Weddings = Real Cash = Success

So check out these two simple contract provision strategies are great ways to add to your bottom line.


Strategy #1: Marketing Permissions

It’s extremely important to include a clause in your contract granting you permission to use those wedding photos for marketing purposes. (See:  Model Releases and why you need them!  Does your model release not grant permission for marketing purposes? Snag one that does!)

We usually think about this in terms of using the wedding images on your website, in advertisements, and in your portfolio, which makes good sense. However, Meghan Ely, mistress of wedding PR at OFD Consulting, reminds us that including this clause also grants you the right to submit those images to publications as a Real Wedding.

The benefits of real wedding submissions include:

  • Increased brand awareness.
  • A trusted third party endorsement of your business.
  • Evidence of your talent and expertise through the rave reviews and photographic proof of your happy couple.
    The ability to reach new audiences and markets.
  • Enhancing your couple’s experience, since they get to bask in the glow of their amazing wedding by showing it off to the world.
  • Networking and partnership opportunities through the promotion of other wedding businesses.
  • More leads and sales.

Real wedding submissions won’t increase your bookings overnight, but the exposure and credibility created for your photography business translate to more leads and make it easier to charge the price you deserve.

All this is facilitated by the simple clause in your contract granting you permission to use your client’s images in a real wedding submission.

Keep in mind, from a customer service standpoint, even though your contract may give you express permission to use the images however you like, it’s still a good idea to get your couple’s approval after the wedding.  One unhappy client throwing a temper tantrum on social media can undo all the good PR work of a real wedding submission.  Be sure to let them know what you’re doing before you start submitting.

Law Tog Tip: If a client comes back and wishes to revoke their model release, consider whether it is worth “sticking” the legal document to them. What are their reasons for not wanting their pictures used?  Is there a way to make them happy through a compromise and amendment? Is it worth losing ground on customer service for a few images in a portfolio? Or is it really important this wedding/session is included for furthering your brand?  It is so easy to jump to standing behind a contract, but good business owners always evaluate all sides of it to provide customer service in some situations but still maintain their policies to avoid being walked on in others.

Bottom Line:

Always set yourself up with the opportunity to use your photographs for marketing, such as through contract or model release.


Strategy #2: Getting Permission From The Client

There’s a hidden money making opportunity most photographers miss because of a simple thing they’ve forgotten to include in the contract.

Add a clause to your contract granting you permission to sell their photos to other parties, namely the parents of the couple, grandparents, bridal party and other family members.  Once you have permission to sell the wedding photos to family, you can ask the couple for the contact information of both sets of parents.  Not only does this allow you to copy all the responsible parties on any communication about the wedding, but you can also use it as a technique for increasing her post-wedding sales.

After the wedding, it is customary for the parents of the couple to order an album, but the parents’ photo choices are often worlds away from what the couple has in mind.  If you’ve ever met with a couple and their parents to go over albums, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Consider setting up a separate album design meeting with the parents so that you can focus on their needs individually.

By including permission to sell the wedding photos to the couple’s parents in your contract, you can ensure that the couple and their parents are included in the album creation process.  You’re better able to meet their needs, form a relationship with all parties and deliver exactly what they want.  All of this results in more sales after the wedding.

Contracts aren’t just about avoiding a potential lawsuit.  They can actually be used to keep your clients happy and make a bundle of cash in the process.

Bottom line:

To keep all legalities and courtesies in a row, get the Client’s permission to sell photographs to third-parties.  This can be included in an original agreement or can be a subsequent agreement that allows Client’s to define specifically which third-parties and to expressly restrict sale to others. The agreement can also allow the Photographer or Client to restrict the use of the third-party purchaser (example: Client’s purchase digital file and albums. They get a print release with express permissions on how to use them, such as for all personal use.  The Third-Parties can be restricted from purchasing certain products, sizes or specific images).

See: Permission to Sell to a Private Third Party Form

Thanks to Stephanie Padovani of BookMoreBrides.com for this post!


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