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Your Ultimate Guide to Photography Terminology

Comparing what various photographers do and offer, and their prices, is like comparing apples and oranges these days.  There is a lot of terminology being thrown around and it can mean different things.  So… is your Ultimate Guide to Photography Terminology.  AND…a disclaimer.  Different photographers mean different things when they throw around these terms…this is guide is what I mean by them, and is a good place to begin, but it is always a good idea to ask your photographer for clarification of what they mean by these terms.

Posed, unposed, and guided:

There was a time when posed photos were the only way to do things.  Today technology has allowed photographers to take advantage of the special moments that sometimes happen when a person is  unaware that their photo is being taken.  This is when unposed photography shines.  It is good for receptions, ceremony shots, children at play, action. I like to call this kind of photography candid….it is just catching the moment, as it happens, with no direction from the photographer.  Guided is sort of semi posed.  It is good for getting brides and grooms to relax, but shows them at their best.  Posed photography still has its place, and good posing is a bit of a lost art.  But good posing can take off 10 pounds, hide flaws and accentuate good qualities.  In a good posed shot, the subject won’t look stiff, but instead look relaxed and at his or her best.  I like to do a combination of all three types at all events.




Natural light, available light, flash on camera, off camera light:

Many photographers these days refer to themselves as natural light photographers, or available light photographers.  Natural light is synonymous with available light and it’s nice when you can get it.  Available light photos are sometimes characterized by backgrounds that have no detail (either too light or too dark), and racoon eyes (eyes that are in shadow and thus don’t show up properly). These are only two of the drawbacks of available light photography.  It is nice in certain situations, such as at sunset and sunrise, but only if the subject is facing the direction of the light.  It can be really nice when doing candid shots, but only if the lighting is not too contrasty.  Flash on camera can work, but it still is not ideal, as it tends to create a harsh, flat light that does not flatter faces.  Off camera light is ideal.  A photographer who is skilled at all types of lighting is best, because you know that no matter what the lighting situation is at your event, your photographer will be able to get the best shots of you possible.  I use available light when it is available, and off camera light of varying kinds at all other times.  I never use a flash directly on the camera.




Straight out of camera, edited, retouched:

Straight out of camera (SOC) means what was created in the camera is what you get.  You won’t ever get an SOC image from me, I consider it unprofessional.  I offer edited images, which take much less time to do, and are perfect for small prints and social media.  Retouched images are great for wall portraits and photos 8 by 10 and larger; they cost a bit more, but if you want a wall portrait made, it is worth the cost.




Copyright vs Usage Release

No professional photographer will release a copyright to you unless you pay for it, and it is very expensive.  Some might issue you a Usage Release, and the terms of the usage should be spelled out in a written agreement.  A sample of a Usage Release would be that you can use the images for your personal use only, with no images sold or given or otherwise provided to other parties.  Usage Releases are less expensive, but keep in mind that when a photographer sells a Usage Release to you (as they do if they provide you with a disc of the high resolution images), they have just given up any  potential sales of the image, so the price of the Usage Release will reflect that.  When you get a disc of the images, or a thumb drive or some other sort of storage media with images on it, the photographer has, in essence, sold you a Usage Release.  Best to clarify what you are getting.