February 8, 2018
Today I’m going to talk to you about birth photography contracts.
I’m starting with the basics here. It’s really important to make sure your clients are on the same page as you by listing things out on paper.
So, let’s talk about *WHY* you need a birth photography contract. If you’re a portrait photographer who’s wanting to do birth photography, you need to know that there are a lot of differences between the two.
There are so many unknowns with birth photography. The birth contract is a good way to sit down with clients and lay out exactly what you’re expecting of them and what they should expect of you.
The first thing I would include would be, what happens if you miss the birth and it’s your fault? For instance, if you miss the birth because you’re very ill, there’s a death in the family (or some kind of other emergency), or maybe you’re at another birth—what do all of those situations look like?
Talk with your clients about this ahead of time, even in that very first consultation, so that they know how you do business and you really present yourself as the expert. Go over all the possibilities with your client. Do they get a refund? Do they get a partial refund? Do they get a fresh 48? (I usually offer a fresh 48 in these instances.)
Additionally, be sure to understand the client’s birth history. That way, you know what kind of labors they typically have and that will help avoid some issues.
Another thing to include is, what happens if you miss the birth and it’s the client’s fault? What if the birth goes really fast and causes you to miss it? What if they change their mind and don’t want photos anymore? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, I just think it’s important to address these things.
With all of these things, I want you to consider your best business practices, but also consider how you would want to be treated. So, if you were a mom and the photographer missed your birth because it was so fast, how would you want to be treated?
There’s a balance there between keeping your business practices and also understanding that sometimes things happen. Hopefully you can come to an agreement with your client and have that planned out ahead of time.
What happens if the client doesn’t pay their balance by 37 weeks (or whatever point in gestation you choose)? I ask that my clients pay in full by 37 weeks because that’s when I go on-call for them. There have been circumstances where a client has paid later, but that was arranged ahead of time, and that’s totally fine.
The huge point here is communication, and having this in a format where you can talk to them about it before their birth (the contract). This way you can lay it out there for them to understand when payment is due and what happens if extenuating circumstances come up.
This is a hard one to talk about and it’s a question I see pop up in birth photography groups all the time. It is, what happens if a client has a miscarriage or stillbirth?
Again, that’s something that I think does need to be addressed, but it’s up to you how you want to handle it. I typically don’t accept deposits for birth photography until after the first trimester. It’s just a preventative measure. I keep a list of people who contact me in the first trimester, and when I start booking their birth month I contact them and ask if they’d like to put their deposit down. I just treat it Iike it’s what I always do and it’s normal.
Just think about how you’d want to be treated if that situation happened to you, and be sure to address it in your contract.
Finally, address the final delivery of the images. This is important in portrait photography as well as birth photography. How are they getting their images? When are they getting their images? Are some of them in black and white, and some in color? What percentage will be in color? If you address these things ahead of time, your clients will know what to expect and you’ll save yourself from a lot of problems.
I have a free download for you guys that I made that just helps explain some things to include in your birth photography contract. This is just something that can help you be aware of some things that I’ve encountered over the years as you start putting your contract together.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and none of this is legal advice.