There are many things to learn as a new wedding photographer. From the poses that will get you the biggest grins to the importance of packing snacks on event day, it can be a sharp learning curve!
We’re here to help make it a little easier and minimize the risk of a lawsuit for your wedding photography business. Our insurance experts have compiled five risk mitigation tips for new wedding photographers to protect their business:
- Communicate frequently with your client.
- Set clear and reasonable expectations – and follow through!
- Know and follow copyright and privacy laws.
- Be prepared for all scenarios.
- Have the right insurance protection in place.
1. Communicate frequently with your client.
There are a lot of moving parts leading up to and on the wedding day, so frequent and clear communication is key. Not only is it a professional courtesy, but by communicating, you can avoid misunderstandings that may lead to a lawsuit.
Make sure to clearly communicate timelines, rates, expectations and any changes. Even if things are going as planned, it’s important to touch base with the couple.
It’s also important to document all communications. If you were brought to court, you will have proof that you fulfilled your contractual obligations.
2. Set clear and reasonable expectations – and follow through!
This should include having clear contracts, shot lists and timelines in writing. If both parties understand what is expected, it makes your job easier and there is less room for confusion.
Setting clear and reasonable expectations may include:
- Your rates and what is included
- When you will arrive and leave on the day of the wedding
- Locations you will be shooting, including backup plans if there is inclement weather
- If there is anyone other than the wedding party that must be photographed
- Refund or cancellation policies
- Timelines for first looks and final images
- If there are any changes at all to initial rates, timelines, expectations, etc.
For example, you told your clients that you would give the final photos to them in four weeks. It has now been eight weeks, and you have not finished editing the photos due to a personal matter. Not communicating this could lead your clients to sue you.
3. Know and follow copyright and privacy laws.
As a Canadian wedding photographer, you automatically own the copyright to the photos you take. It is important to have your contract stipulate how the photos can be used and who owns the photos so that there is no confusion between you and your client.
4. Be prepared.
Anything can happen. From weather that turns nasty, unexpected traffic issues and equipment failure, if you are prepared, you can still meet your contractual obligations.
- scoping out the venue beforehand to identify potential issues and take test shots;
- ensuring that you have the appropriate permits, if necessary;
- packing extra equipment, like batteries and SD memory cards;
- having a shot list and schedule;
- checking weather and traffic reports, and;
- understanding the scope of what you were hired for, which may include contracting a second photographer.
Outside of what is known as an ‘act of God’ (a natural event outside of anyone’s control), you can be sued for not upholding your professional obligation if you are not prepared and unable to deliver on the photos.
5. Have the right protection in place.
Despite your best efforts, a client can still sue you if they believe that you have failed to deliver on what was promised. This is where professional liability insurance comes into play.
Also known as errors and omissions insurance, professional liability insurance for photographers can help with costly legal fees and reputational damage.
Additionally, you may want to consider adding on a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy. As a photographer, unlike many other professions, you frequently visit clients and sites, which could expose you other risks. A CGL policy can help protect your business against claims brought by third parties for bodily injury or property damage they suffer as a result of your business operations.
Even if you are not at fault, one disgruntled client could put you out of business right as you’re getting started. If you cannot afford to pay legal fees out of pocket, insurance is strongly recommended.
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