This clause is really important because it covers cancellations. Clients may cancel for a number of reasons, and this provision covers what happens if they do. We’ll discuss later in this guide what happens if you, the photographer, must cancel, but this provision covers what happens if the client cancels, or if they need to amend the agreement and change the date or something.
This provision states that the client must inform you, the photographer, a certain amount of calendar days before the agreed upon photographic event (in other words, the session) date. The number of days that they must inform you ahead of the time that they cancel is up to you and your discretion, and whatever works best for you and your business. The contract also states that it’s up to you on whether or not you want to apply the retainer fee to an agreed upon rescheduled date. So you can either require them to pay a new, additional retainer fee to hold the date in your schedule for a rescheduled event, or you can apply the money they already paid you for the original session towards a rescheduled session. And that is totally your call.
I often let the client apply the retainer fee to another date unless they come to us right at the cutoff date for rescheduling. Then I might consider not applying the retainer to a new date. For customer service bonus points though, you can state that you don’t apply the retainer to a rescheduled date but then waive the retainer later if you so choose (sort of like a nice surprise for your client), but I recommend allowing them to apply the retainer to a new rescheduled date right from the get-go because it lends some flexibility to your clients.
This provision also states that if the client fails to show or cancels within a certain number of days from the scheduled session then they forfeit the retainer. So at that point, if they cancel after the cutoff date, the retainer is nonrefundable and should not be applied to a future session (and this is again why you want your retainer fee to at least cover your time and supplies in case they don’t show, or in case they cancel on you really close to the session date that you’ve potentially turned down other paying clients from booking).