Photo Exclusivity Contracts ~ This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us

Being a wedding photographer is kind of like being a cowboy. We ride into town, shoot up the place, and go to the saloon. And we say, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us!”

I have a very clear clause in my contract that states the following:
“Dawn Kelly Photography will be the sole professional still photographer employed for the wedding day (excluding video). Guests are free to take pictures for personal use, but individuals deemed to be shadowing the PHOTOGRAPHER or assistants will be required to stop. Breach of either of these provisions releases PHOTOGRAPHER from this contract, immediately terminate service coverage, and CLIENT forfeits all monies paid.”


Therefore, our wedding clients aren’t allowed to hire another photographer to be at the wedding. Recently, we had a situation involving this. The bride (one of the sweetest, spunkiest girls I know), hired us to photograph her dream wedding. In fact, we were her dream photographers, which was an incredible honor. When we arrived at the beach where the ceremony was to take place, the coordinator rudely introduced herself, then said, “And we have another photographer,” pointing to the gentleman standing next to her. I explained that we have an exclusivity clause in our contract, which made her pretty angry. “Well they hired him too!!” she said. The ceremony was about to start, so I quickly talked to the bride. She said she didn’t want him there, they forced him on them because he works for the coordinator, and to tell him to get out of my way. So for the next hour, I continually told him to get out of my way. It made my job MUCH more difficult.

A week or so after the wedding, the bride and I compared notes, and I found out she was already angry at them. Right after the ceremony, when we were just starting family photos, the coordinator and other photographer approached her at the alter and said, “That other photographer is in his way. She needs to get out of his way so he can do his job.” She very sternly said to him, “I don’t care about your pictures! I ONLY care about HER pictures. So get out of her way!” Hehehehehe….

That was when the other photographer finally bowed out. Apparently it took the bride and groom saying NO, me stating my contract language, and finally the bride yelling at him to BACK OFF. Dude, she didn’t want you there! And then, after I spent my time arranging the bridal party for photos, he shot from the side, taking my pose. Not cool.

Now I know that going over this clause at time of contracting isn’t enough. I need to make sure I go over it thoroughly, and I need to check a week or so before the wedding to see if another photographer is going to show up. In this case, the other photog was very aggressive. I explained to the bride that he insisted on shooting because he’s probably going to hard sell her an album. That happens a lot. She said she doesn’t even want his photos and she’ll delete them when they come her way. WOW was she mad. AND how the photog brought his wife and son to her wedding. Very strange.

In business, and in life, we should all be respectful of each other, and this dude and his partner coordinator were highly disrespectful. There is a reason I have the exclusivity clause in my contract. The clause isn’t there because I think I’m so important or talented. It’s there so another photographer won’t be in my way, stealing my poses, standing right behind the couple during the ceremony, and taking the bride from me to take photos of her bouquet (true story).

That is all.

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