Wedding 911

Anyone Else Have a Non-Disparagement Clause?

I'm looking into hiring a photographer whose aesthetic I adore, and after a difficult time getting in touch with her (I wrote about this in Wedding Woes a few weeks ago), we were finally able to discuss the wedding over the phone.

I just got her contract and a non-disparagement clause is included. This is making me really nervous—like she's anticipating not doing her best. Her work is beautiful, though, so I'm thinking that while her customer service skills are lacking, the end product will be worth it.

Has anyone else signed a contract with this clause in it? Should I run for the hills? My head says yes, but my heart says no. I seriously cannot find another photographer within my budget whose style gives me butterflies.

Re: Anyone Else Have a Non-Disparagement Clause?

  • To Levioosa: You're right, I have been having major concerns. I guess I've just been holding out hope that things would get better... that she was just busy and hadn't responded yet, that something was up and she wasn't communicating well, that once I got the contract, everything would be set and I'd have a great experience.

    This non-disparagement clause seems to be the cherry on top of my wariness. I also value professionalism, but was hoping something someone could say here would be the wave of a magic wand, easing my concerns. :(

    To southernbelle: I would love to negotiate those terms, but I've already negotiated a custom proposal to accommodate my budget and I feel as if she'd forgo the whole job if I questioned her contract. I know I'm the customer and shouldn't feel afraid to do so, but this whole affair seems to be pretty tenuous. I should probably just call it a day and look for someone else.

    Thanks for the input to the both of you!
  • That this photographer has already stressed you out this much before you've even signed a contract with her is a very, very bad sign. I do not recall there being a non-disparagement clause in any of the contracts I signed for my wedding, and I think that's something I'd remember. I suspect that this photographer knows she isn't reliable or that the quality of her work is inconsistent, and she doesn't want to get called out on it later. And really, if someone feels a need to put that sort of clause in one of their contracts, I don't think they will react well to your attempts to negotiate or remove it.

    Having been through wedding planning myself, I understand that sometimes the head and the heart don't always agree during the process. But here's what you have to remember: however friendly or wonderful or talented your vendors may seem, this is all business to them at the end of the day. They are not your friends, and you should not feel obligated to make allowances for them like you might for friends. To a degree, you have to be as business-like about it as they are. Whatever your heart may be saying about this photographer, I strongly suggest you follow your head and find someone else to photograph your wedding. 
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    JediElizabethsouthernbelle0915InLoveInQueensgeebee908
  • SP29SP29
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
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    I wouldn't do it. Trust your gut. This photographer can take the most beautiful photos in the world, but if you don't get them- who cares right? This person is working in a "people pleasing" industry, she should have good customer service skills.

    We signed a contract with a photographer who upon first meeting, seemed really flighty. DH pointed it out right away, but I said, "Nah, it's fine, this person is a friend of some friends, she's done multiple weddings before (she was/is a professional photographer)". Our contracted stated we were to receive a photo gallery and then completed images on USB as well as any requested prints 12 weeks after the wedding. We did not get our photos until 7 months later, after sending a registered letter threatening legal action. And even then, there were some missing photos that took until 10 months to receive. While the pictures turned out good and we were happy with the shots, the editing/final copies do not compare to some other photographers (we're thinking maybe she didn't edit most of them at all, because they were so late, she just gave us whatever she had). We got some other photos taken with a different professional photographer at another time (unrelated) who was very reasonably priced- and wow, the quality of those photos!
  • I wouldn't hire this photographer at all. First of all, as PPs have pointed out, you have been stressed out by this photographer's actions for a while now, and you haven't even signed a contract. 

    Also, what constitutes disparagement/disparaging remarks is completely subjective. This kind of clause is an enormous red flag - and TBH, if you pay for services and are not happy with the results/level of professionalism/etc., writing a bad review is a form of free speech granted by the First Amendment. I would never sign a contract with a non-disparagement clause - if she perceives some sort of slight by you, she could sue you. That's bogus. 

    There are more than 4 good photographers in the world. 
  • I wouldn't hire this photographer at all. First of all, as PPs have pointed out, you have been stressed out by this photographer's actions for a while now, and you haven't even signed a contract. 

    Also, what constitutes disparagement/disparaging remarks is completely subjective. This kind of clause is an enormous red flag - and TBH, if you pay for services and are not happy with the results/level of professionalism/etc., writing a bad review is a form of free speech granted by the First Amendment. I would never sign a contract with a non-disparagement clause - if she perceives some sort of slight by you, she could sue you. That's bogus. 

    There are more than 4 good photographers in the world. 
    It's actually not; the first amendment guarantees you protection from state/federal regulations/actions, but not from individuals. It does not necessarily protect you from liability if your speech was covered by a contract with a private party. 
    awww dammit. Guess I'll stick to my day job then LOL  :D
    charlotte989875
  • I'm a photographer and I can tell you - the non-disparagement clause isn't written for honest brides like you.   There ARE brides who will start making unreasonable demands way beyond what was contracted initially and start threatening to leave bad reviews to get what they want.   There aren't MANY like that... but they certainly do exist.  With a non-disparagement clause, as soon as that starts, they're in anticipatory breach - and that lets me pause work and have my lawyer sort it out so I can stay focused on taking great photos and taking great care of my clients.  BY ITSELF - it's existence isn't a red flag.   You STILL can sue the pants off of them for failing to deliver on the contract!   For actual material issues, you still have plenty of power to enforce the contract.  

    That said, your photographer should be happy to discuss and negotiate the terms of it.  I think, as suggested, spelling out that it's only binding if the contract is fulfilled would be a good start.   Honestly, most of us would happily remove it from a contract IF we've had an in person meeting or two and have a good read on the client.  I've done this long enough that I can tell pretty quickly if a client is an actual fan of my work and will act in good faith as long as I do... or if she's just here to get as much as she can for as little as possible and doesn't care who it screws over because it's her wedding day!   Again - ALMOST nobody is like that...  but...  ALMOST means ALMOST.  

    The lack of communication, though, that's the biggest red flag there is.  If someone can't even be bothered to get back to you promptly when they WANT your money, imagine how they treat people who've already paid?   Photography isn't just a technical skill - it's a personal one.   Taking great photos requires having great people skills.  If she can't put you at ease in an email or a meeting...  how is she going to get you to relax on the day of and give her some authentic smiles?  A photographer that isn't THRILLED to talk to you often and in depth isn't good at their job.




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