LEGAL BEAGLES



LEGAL BEAGLES TAKE NOTE

The biggest and most common cancellation or termination is the wedding gets called off.  This is clearly stated in the DEPOSIT and it is not refundable. You have time invested and they are liable if you so state it.

I am not an attorney, but I do know in my state and other states laws differ on contracts. The law of the state you are in are absolute.  State's laws will govern in the event there's a dispute. Sometimes Brides and groom are from different states.  You might consider a clause that states which state laws will govern. If you forget to include this, more lawyers in other states cost a lot of money for research.

WHO OWNS WHAT
It’s their pictures and you want permission to use their pictures for your promotional use.   You want this clear and in writing if it is important to you for advertising, marketing, trade shows, print competitions, and for promotional use in locations other than your gallery i.e.: the web. (Get it in writing) 

Those pictures are also your leverage if a problem arises or you are getting what we call bumped by a customer. That’s when they forget what they agreed to and start demanding more. I will explain this in detail further on.

If they say no (which is rare) then abide by it. The sword has two edges and one does not need to abuse this either by pictorializing their entire family for your benefit and violating their privacy.

Written permission agreeing to use is important. The trend today is to give the negatives to the Bride after a short period, like after you are paid in total for services rendered. More below on this subject is forthcoming. Thus, good digital copies of your work are a must, as is a good release to use them. 

MORE ON PAYMENTS - DON’T BE A MORON
I use and believe in the three-part payment for the Wedding; A good contract is fair to both the photographer and the Bride who hired you. The one third deposit to retain the date, second third the day of the Wedding, third part on delivery of the Wedding proofs, CD-ROMs, discs, and/or enlargements. 

Sometimes (see the sample contract) I want it all up front, just a gut feeling tells me I either have a Bridezilla or sometimes bounced checks tell you that.   Understanding what is and what isn’t included up front is the best way of doing business. If you believe in your instincts, trust them.  

The prime rule of individual business success for the Wedding Photographer is customer satisfaction. And that is achieved only one way, giving the consumer more that his or her expectations.

Business sense, if you got paid enough to do the job, extra shots (one roll or fill up that spare card) might cost you another 15 dollars for prints and proofs or a CD.

For the extra fifteen dollars, I get all the shots that show up late, or become apparent at the affair. Maybe some special folks at the table, but, the surprises get captured. The Bride gets it all.  Sometimes I use a Hero or a small Sony and get the coolest shots because no one is posing…

As trends, equipment (the digital revolution) change and laws of ownership change, the many Wedding Photographers I knew always added a little extra to the package to cover the cost of film and processing and now after sixty days or so release the pictures to the client. With digital, a hi-res and lo-res disc is often all that is delivered. 

Extra cost of the post processing time on the computer is fair to charge for. The on-line PROFESSIONAL wedding services (PBASE is not what I’m talking about) do a great job and the pro people I know using them love the convenience. 

Another argument is that most of the “cheaters” shoot down to Ritz, Wal-Mart, Costco and Sam’s, just to name a few, and make copies on the Kodak machine or scan them. Again, with much of the industry going to digital, the abundance of digital at weddings and many households with scanners, and cell phones the whole issue becomes a moot point. 

In addition, people at most of the kiosks turn the other way when copying anyway, so get it in writing and get it up front are the mottos. If you are a business act like one. (Get it in writing) KNOW THE RULES

For those in Florida and similar states...Sales Tax.  Keep all books and records. Especially if this is just a casual business. The sales tax people are tough.

They deal in pennies... Someone told me the IRS are bears but the sales-tax people are Tyrannosaurus Rex.  I know we had a review years ago as the state was cracking down on photographers claiming all kinds of stuff as business expenses including film.  

And two agents camped out and spent a week at our store, which had to keep the payroll for the department sky high. The sales tax people requested all film sales to PROS or those with sales tax exemption records.  If you keep the negatives or original files on disc and charged sales tax on your wedding fees, yet you claim tax exempt when you buy cameras and gear you are in trouble.  Some try to avoid tax when buying gear.  They got caught too. Had to be for resale.

During the film days Florida had incorporated a sales tax law that if film is part of an agreement and you are paid for that film as part of the cost, you better turn in the sales tax if it was included in your billing to the bride.  It’s cheaper to pay seven percent tax on the film cost and be done with it, than screw with the sales tax people.  

Something I do for this day, 7% is cheaper than an accountant, forms and other crap for a ten-dollar purchase. And one seven-dollar thumb drive can hold a wedding and if you paid tax, you are exempt.

Anything I buy locally for my business, as most is for experimental use, even if it is in bulk nuts and bolts, I cheerfully pay sales tax on.  I never worry about that because I did not and do not use the exemption. As far as sales tax people go I do not exist and I like it that way.  

With the advent of the digital era, the business no longer using film, the bears of the sales tax business backed off… on film…gear is another story.   So,  I buy out of NY, so far no sales tax.   Other tactical money moves are really scrutinized.  I warned you.