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Contracts Q&A

Lesson 31 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

31. Contracts Q&A


Class Trailer



Class Introduction


The Gear That Will Save You in Tough Situations


How Lenses Shape the Image and Help Tell Your Story


Light Modifiers for Your Survival Kit


Gear to Spice Up Bland Images: Prisms, Mist and More


Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue


Why Each Room Works and Why It Doesn't


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Dress


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Rings


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Shoes


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in Difficult Scenarios


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Small, Cluttered Room


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Dark Hallway


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Doorway


Portraits of the Bride in a Small Room


Removing the Surrounding Space for a Bridal Portrait


Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space


How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait


Photographing Guys, Complaining Brides and "Helpful" Bridesmaids




Portraits of Bride and Groom: Ideal Situations


Portraits of Bride and Groom: When Things Go Wrong


Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors


Bride and Groom Portraits: How to Pose an Awkward Couple


Family Formals: How to Achieve Your Ideal Situations


Family Formals: When Things are Less Than Ideal


Family Formals in an Awful Space


Family Formals Recap and Questions


Photographing the Reception


Reception Q&A


What Can You Do to Safeguard Your Business?


Contracts Q&A


Dealing with Social Media as a Wedding Photographer


What if Advertising Isn't Working?


What to do When Everyone Just Wants More


When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive


When You Hate Your Job as a Wedding Photographer


Lesson Info

Contracts Q&A

Yes what are your payment terms when they took you so they've changed actually from people who have watched thirty days or heard me speak before I have been steadily slowly creeping my prices upwards my retainer used to be a flat thousand dollars no matter what people did and their final payment was due a week before the wedding and for many years that was not a problem at all but I realized several things first of all when I have no weddings in january and february and march there's no money like one week before the wedding when my first wedding is in may is a really long way away also when the price of the rest of my packages is fairly high a thousand dollars is too little to take from people at the beginning so now I have a fifteen hundred dollars booking retainer fifty percent of your balance is do ninety days before your wedding the balance is due thirty days for the wedding I would still have gotten burned on these two weddings that canceled because they still would have canceled...

but I would have found it out a whole lot earlier. I also feel like a lot of people are scrambling the week before the wedding and continually reminding them to pay me it's kind of tough. I also would rather have more clients pay their balance with check than credit card and a month out gives them a little bit more time this in the trash? Well, I have really great credit card rates. I still would rather not pay a credit card transaction fee. So it's. Fifteen hundred dollars, fifty percent ninety days out, fifty percent thirty days out. If they make any additions. If they decide they want overtime or anything like that, I build them for overtime. Post wedding it's. Kind of a nice little surprise. Surprise money is always good money yes man all right lots of questions coming in we'll hit me we have an hour and a half all right so black room m z ens e this one has a number of votes as well how do you tell a potential client that's jumping in to sign a contract that you can tell is a nightmare waiting to happen that you don't want to work with them whether you can see it's a dodgy situation or a big personality clash and I guess this question was echoed with a how do you gauge your pre qualify your clients it's interesting that you should say that there's an odd misconception that when you reach a certain level in the industry you get the kind of pick and choose your clients it does not work that way anybody who tells you that they're they're fully booked every single year with a hand selected group of clients that they have prequalified themselves is either a unicorn or they're lying to you I don't know anybody who can pick and choose all of their well I do I have one friend and she's watching right now who has amazing clients all the time I think it is because she is a miraculous ray of sunshine herself and she just draws those people to her like a magnet she is literally amazing and I still like her um but she has it but she has a very specific group of clientele that she serves and they are generally by and large totally awesome people I truly believe that for better or for worse I can make most clients happy if they're demanding I could make them happy there are not a whole lot of red flags that will turn me off ah big style mismatch is a big one repeated repeated recruit repeated requests for things that I don't think will work insistence on a timeline that you do know what I mean you'll figure out in your own head your line and as I get a little bit older and a little longer and business I know firmly where my line is but what I could tell you more than anything else is trust your gut if you have a bad feeling about something you have a bad feeling about something you don't have to take every client that comes along and I will say I understand that you want to move ahead truly it actually is an amazing honor to be considered I really don't think that we're a good fit for each other and I want to make sure that you are incredibly happy with your wedding photographs I wish you all the best listen I understand how you feel please never call me again I wish you all the best but you know what? You know why I'm sending them on their way because I'm not gonna be able to make them happy and maybe there is someone out there that will be able to make them happy, whether it is with style or whether it is with payment terms, or whether it is with the willingness to change their contract around or whatever it is. Someone else will make you happier. I know you like my pictures, but I just don't think that this is. I don't think we're a good fit for each other, and I want you to be happy. Would I like your money? Oh, yeah, I would like to take your money, and I would really like to try to make you happy. But if I don't think I can, I would rather have them find somebody who there one hundred percent comfortable with, instead of second guessing their decision to hire me the entire way. Listen here yes please susan have you ever lost any clients because you don't use second shooters you mean like today or just in general because everything today yes yeah liking waiting clients do you ever lose them because you don't use second shooter all the time okay how do you deal with it next honestly I mean it's something that I struggle with all the time and sandra who has been my assistant for a very long time I have been slowly training her to second chute she is an amazing photographer she does a wonderful job and most importantly she knows what I need as a second shooter she knows that I'm looking for so I'm hoping in mid two thousand sixteen my top two packages can include a second shooter and they will be her I've run all the numbers on this I am very confident with this it makes me feel a little bit because it's not necessarily something that I think every client needs bait is something that a lot of people ask for and I want to be able to give that to them if they want I have a second shooter on my price list you can add one and if you want but I still have clients potential clients that will come and say I met with other photographers and they said that there's no way to cover a wedding day without a second shooter and I will say, you know, I can understand that there are a lot of photographers who feel that way a lot of people set up their businesses working with two shooters are lot of people are husband and wife teams or best friend teams or whatever teams and they work together as a team I've worked as a solo shooter for a really long time I don't feel that I need a photographer and a second photographer unless the situation on the wedding day strongly dictates needing one on dh most of the time it doesn't but I still will have people say you know what I decided to go with another another photography team that includes a second shooter and I have to say okay, you know if I included a second shooter I would lose weddings for other reasons you know there's there's a million different reasons that someone will decide to go with somebody else maybe they felt better with the answer from the photographer who used a second shooter but I just don't see the day with a second shooter it's not and again I want to be very very clear studios that work with second shooter's I'm not telling you you're doing it wrong not even remotely I have seen amazing work come out of two person teams ben and erin chrisman davina and daniel to man out of canada who I hate so hard because every wedding that they shoot is like on a glacier or like enough field and it's just there so painfully talented it's irritating I would never bring somebody on is a partner like that unless they were my photographic equal and a lot of time second shooters are not the photographic equal of the main shooter a lot of times they are a lot of times they're not so you have to be very careful about what that means to you and what it means to your business and how it helps your coverage. I will bring one aa lot of times when someone hires the second shooter and brings one we didn't need them I could have done it by myself but if it makes the client feel better, okay and I do lose weddings because of it and I have to I have to be okay with it and if I am ever not ok with it, I need to make a change hey, any other business he questions there are a lot I mean there was one that was very similar to that question do you? You should alone and this person does to annie is her name and she's had the scenario where potential client comes and says other photographers offer maur at your same price as in they include a second shooter and you're at the same time. Sure, a lot of photographers do a lot of things that a lot of different prices like if my start price is six thousand dollars, you're going to find somebody who will give you two shooters and engagement session and album and parent albums. For that, you're going to find some people that won't do anything for that, like it's all over the place. What it comes right down to it, we'll talk about pricing, and a little bit is, if you see a difference in my work. If you can see a difference between my part, my work and the person with less prices, then you will know where your money has gone. It's like buying the eighty five one four verses the one eight if you can see where the investment goes invested. If you really can't tell the difference between my work and their work, don't hire me, and I don't mean that with any ill will, hire the person who's cheaper if they're going to make you happy, don't go crazy and hire me if you can't tell that the investment is worth it. The end.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Wedding Photographer Survival Kit Slides

Ratings and Reviews


I found this course extremely helpful. I own Susan's 30 day bootcamp class and I think that this course is a great supplement to that course. I don't work with an assistant so it was very helpful to see how she would approach a scenario without an assistant. It was also great to see her point of view and thought process when scouting locations for portraits and witness her ability to make something beautiful out of "not so pretty" or difficult locations. It helped me to take a better approach to finding the light, and really paying attention to all of the different details throughout a room. Her business tips were awesome too. I could go on and on but maybe you should just get the course. It's worth it.


Good and useful course as typical of Susan Stripling; I also own Creative Wedding Photography. However, all the class materials should reside on the Creative Live website -- not just the Power Point presentation. I understand Susan's desire to drive people to her website to increase visibility and sales of her own products, but the strategy isn't very customer-centric for CreativeLive customers. People shouldn't have to "google" the name of her company to find the information that she references in this course; and then once on the website scroll through outdated or unwanted information to find, as she states at her website, "Below is the list of gear (as promised) that I've mentioned on Creative Live." If people are smart enough to find CreativeLive, they'll be smart enough to find on the web any presenter that they like or want to know more about. The folks at CreativeLive ought to address this type of behavior before it sets a bad precedent for future presenters.


I love Susan. She will give it to you straight! I own her "30 days" class and it's amazing but one thing I took away from this course was when she said something along the lines of, "Those photographers who tell you they hand pick their clients are lying to you!" Haha. There are TOO MANY young and arrogant wedding photographers who think they are rock stars. They really get me down. And that's why I like Susan. She's honest.

Student Work