Was the kiss in the contract?

8808432-lawYou may recall reading earlier this year about the wedding photographer who was sued by the bride and groom because, amongst other things, he missed photographing the all important first kiss.

Whilst the photographer’s fee for the day was $2,700, the disappointed bride and groom refused to pay the remaining $390 of his fee, and instead sued him for $6,400 for failing to capture the kiss, the ribbon cutting and the certificate signing. The photographer counter-sued (that is, filed his own claim against the bride and groom) for $6,000, which included the $390 balance outstanding for his fee, court fees and $63 for paying for a meal out of his own pocket.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal considered the importance of the first kiss photo, agreed that a wedding kiss is difficult to capture, but nevertheless ordered the photographer to pay the newlyweds $710 for failing to meet the value of the $2,700 package, and ordered the newlyweds to pay for the photographer’s $63 meal.

The lesson to be learnt is this – if there is an expectation that the other party to a transaction is going to perform a particular service for you, make sure you spell out in detail exactly what level of service will be provided. And ideally, in writing. Hiring a photographer and ensuring that you instruct the photographer to capture all of the important photos comes down to discussing everything in detail, so make a list of the photos that you definitely would like (such as first kiss, cake cutting etc) and give it to the photographer so that the photographer can ensure that they are in the right place at the right time, taking the photo when it needs to be taken.

The list should form part of a written legal contract between you and the photographer, outlining the services to be provided on the day, and all of the other rights and obligations of each party. The contract then becomes an enforceable document should things go ary.

There are a number of other legal issues that should be discussed with the photographer as well, such as who owns the copyright of the photos – this issue came arose in a case earlier this year when Lowes clothing used a photo loaded onto the photo sharing website flickr.com, without first obtaining the photographer’s permission. The photographer sued Lowes for breach of copyright.

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