Every professional photographer should be fully insured...not only to protect themselves, but to protect you as well. It's just the responsible thing to do as a business.

The are two main type of insurance that every photographer should have. I will address each one and why it's important to you, the bride and groom, that your photographer have such coverage.

1) Theft or Loss. Theft insurance will help the photographer replace equipment that gets stolen or damaged. Equipment does get stolen. Equipment does get dropped. While most photographers are very careful with such expensive gear, once in a while the unexpected does happen. And why the photographer having theft insurance is important to you is this...what would happen at your wedding if the photographer had his gear stolen or damaged in the days leading up to your wedding and they didn't have the cash on hand to replace it? You'd be left without a photographer, or at the very least, one with hastily rounded up used or borrowed gear that may not be up to the task. Ultimately, your photographs may be effected. If the photographer had insurance, all the gear is replaced and you're safe.

2) Liability. This insurance covers many issues. Suppose your grandmother trips over the photographers tripod and gets hurt? If the photographer was at fault, the insurance will help with the medical bills. Suppose the photographer is at your home and accidentally knocks over that expensive vase you have, his insurance may help to replace it. And finally, many houses of worship and reception venues will require your vendors to have liability insurance before they'll be allowed to work in the building. The church or hotel or whatever wants to be sure they're financially protected should the vendor damage anything or cause an accident.

In should insist that your photographer be fully insured. This is for your protection. Not only if something happens on your wedding day, but to be sure that if something happens at someone else's event, your photographer will still be in business when it comes time to photograph your wedding.

A true professional will have insurance, the amateur or wannabe wedding photographer may not. Always check to be sure, and if they don't...cross them off your list.

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One thing that you should always ask about, and insist on, is that your photographer has sufficient backup gear should something stop working. Cameras do fail unexpectedly. Flashes do short out when you least expect them to. It'll happen to every photographer sooner or later.

Any good photographer will have an absolute minimum of two camera bodies, and preferably three or more. And I don't mean one good camera and a cheap point and shoot as a backup. I mean good, sturdy cameras designed for wedding use. They should also have two or three extra flashes and enough batteries to power all of them...and a few more batteries in reserve.

If your photographer has only one camera or one flash...what are you going to do if it stops working or gets dropped and broken? The wedding will continue of course, but you'll have no photographs of it. Is this a risk worth taking?

I've heard numerous stories over the years from brides who had a budget photographer with no decent backup gear, and sure enough, something broke and the bride ended up with very few photographs, or very poor ones because the photographer didn't have any backup gear...or cheap gear not up to the task.

Insist that your photographer have two or three cameras and flashes and multiple lenses with them at your wedding. Don't be afraid to ask to see them when you're interviewing and choosing a photographer. Making this part of your decision making process can save you a great deal of heartache down the road.

One thing that separates the true professional from the amateur or wanna-be photographer is their gear. The pro will have the right gear and plenty of it. The wanna-be will have just enough gear to get by...hopefully.

Don't take a chance. Insist on good backup gear.

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This comes up often. The client wants to have a copyright release to be able to use the image files they received from their photographer. Generally speaking, few photographers will release their copyright. Most likely, the photographer will grant to the client "Personal Usage Rights".

What this means is that the client can take that disc of image files that they received and make prints for themselves, their friends, use them in thank you cards, make their own albums, etc. Basically, any personal use. What they can't do is sell them commercially. In other words, the bride wouldn't be able to sell an image to David's Bridal for example for them to use in an ad campaign without the photographers permission.

Photographers work very hard to create their images, and if they fully gave up their copyright, they wouldn't be able to use those images in their sample albums, brochures, websites or even show to a prospective bride. If a photographer does agree to release their copyright, it's usually at an additional fee as they're giving up all rights to that image, how it's used, and by whom.

99% of the time Personal Usage Rights are all that the client will ever need. And should the need arise that somehow the client does need the full copyright, most of the time that can be negotiated with the photographer.

Copyright Release and Personal Usage Rights...two different things.

Be sure you get a letter of some kind from your photographer that says you're allowed to print from the disc. Some photo labs will check to see if in fact you do have permission, and a letter will satisfy them. The labs need to protect themselves in such matters. If they knowingly print copyright protected material...the civil and criminal penalties can be huge for them.

Hopefully this information was helpful.

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Currently, under Indiana law, wedding photography is a taxable service. Your photographer is required to collect sales tax from each client as a percentage of the entire sale amount and remit it to the state treasury at specific intervals. Contrary to what I've heard some people say, the photographer doesn't get to keep it. They're only acting as an agent of the state.

The photographer is required to purchase a Vendors Permit from the county that the business resides in. Without this permit, there's no way to legally collect sales tax from a customer. The photographer should be able to produce their permit for inspection if you ask to see it. If they can't...think hard before giving them any money. There's a good chance that they're "flying under the radar" in an attempt to avoid taxes, and if they're will be looking for a new photographer. The state takes such things very seriously.

Also...the sales tax you pay to the photographer must be listed as a line item on any contract or order form. The customer has to be made aware of the amount of sales tax they're paying. If the photographer claims to "include it in the price", be wary. That's a practice prohibited by the state. Now there are some instances where no sales tax needs to be collected. An out of state sale is one example. If the product (your photographs) is shipped to an address in a state other than Indiana...the photographer is not required to collect Indiana sales tax.

Each year, there are a number of photographers who are forced to close up shop because they got caught playing fast and loose with the tax laws of Indiana. More than a few brides have found themselves without a photographer...and the money they paid them.

Always be sure that you're dealing with a legitimate business. Don't be afraid to ask to see their Vendors Permit, and don't be afraid to walk away if they don't have one.

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