Confidentiality and Non Disclosure Agreements
Have Clients Thought This Through
A few years ago I encountered the occasional client who would ask for what is known as an NDA (None Disclosure Agreement). They were usually people in the public eye, footballers, actors and TV personalities. They obviously didn’t want to lose control of their wedding photos and find them plastered all over a wedding photographer’s website. Or worse still, sold on to one of the red top newspapers. It was fine by me - attracting these kinds of clients was a sign that I was getting somewhere - and I always charged a healthy premium for the NDA.
Occasionally I’d have a meeting with someone and their desire to protect the images was baffling. I remember one groom insisting that a clause was written into the contract that he was to own the copyright - this was something I always refuse in any circumstances. Turned out he was a professional footballer who played for Bolton Wanderers, but as I have no interest in any team other than the mighty Manchester United, this meant I hadn’t heard of him. I don’t think many Bolton fans had heard of him either as he was rarely in the first eleven - or the second eleven. I suppose some people are just famous in their own heads. I lost the booking as I wouldn’t agree to his terms. Bolton Wanderers have been on a steady decline ever since and are about to be relegated. None of their players has been paid for months. This I believe is called Karma. Never mess with a photographer - we have special powers.
This year the requests for privacy are coming thick and fast. Seems like the majority of clients are requesting that I don’t use any images on social media or my website. I understand why clients might want this, a wedding is something you may not want shared with the world. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to agree that this means they should pay more. These days, my NDA premium is a significant deal breaker. The problem for wedding photographers, if this catches on as a trend, is that we'll have nothing to promote our businesses. I’ve never been one for blogging every wedding I shoot with 100 images of the bride getting ready and some insincere words about how fantastic everything is. But I do need to update my portfolios every year with new work. If my website still had the images on from 20 years ago, I’d never be taking bookings this year. This is why I used to charge extra for these kinds of agreements.
Personally, I don’t think clients have really thought this through. Obviously, there are legitimate reasons for wanting to restrict the use of images, but if they weren’t able to view photographer’s portfolios, they wouldn’t have known who to book in the first place. From a photographers point of view, if you can’t show off your best work online, there becomes minimal incentive to go the extra mile when it comes to the shoot. Should I wade into that river to get the perfect shot? No point. May as well stay dry. Will I lie down in a muddy field for an interesting angle for this shot. Nope, may as well save on the dry cleaning bill. Photographer’s only put extra effort in so they can show off their work to other photographers on Instagram and Facebook. If hardly anyone is going to see your fantastic shot then why bother? Sorry - my smoke bombs are staying in the car for this one.
So if you are thinking of booking a wedding photographer and adding in a total privacy clause to the contract then think again - do you really need it? Your photographer may want paying more but end up putting in less effort. As for the Bolton Wanderers player, I last saw him when I signed for an Amazon parcel.