What is my photographer talking about?? Words we say and what they mean…part 1

What is my photographer talking about?? Words we say and what they mean

This little guy is frustrated too!

Hiring a photographer can get overwhelming especially with all the unfamiliar photography terms we use. To make it worse, we all have different terms for the same thing! Let’s break down a few of the more common ones.


Session fee (also called sitting fee)

A session fee is the initial investment you’ll make for your photo shoot. Products are not usually included but some photographers may offer products or print credits. Basically, the session fee pays for the time working on your session. Your photographer will tell you what you’re paying for.


Deposit/retainer/booking fee

These terms are often used interchangeably with photographers. This fee is usually charged to book your session on the calendar and most state it is non-refundable. Some of us consider a portion of the session fee as the booking fee. For example, $50 of the session fee I charge clients is counted as the non-refundable booking fee…it is not an additional fee to the session fee.


Print credit

Some photographers use print credits. This is usually a portion of the session fee or package price (or however your photographer handles it) that is reserved to use towards product purchases. It’s kind of like a store credit.


Minimum requirement

To keep the initial price down, some utilize a minimum purchase requirement. This is an amount that the photographer requires you to spend on products. Be sure to read what you are signing if this isn’t something you want! If you are unsure if there is a minimum, you need to check with your photographer, so you aren’t surprised later.


Model release

This is a form that is in addition to the contract and sometimes it is included within the contract. Basically, it is giving the photographer your permission to use your images for commercial purposes. Some of us expand it to allow you to opt-out of certain uses such as posting to social media.


Digital file (digital image, digital print, digital negative)

Digital files are the computer version of your images. You may hear digital print (this one never made sense to me since a digital isn’t tangible lol). Digital negative is sometimes used as well but really means something different (see RAW vs Jpeg). Depending on the photographer, you may receive your images in this format. They will either be high or low resolution; sometimes watermarked, sometimes not. Usages for these are outlined by your photographer. If your photographer offers digital files in her product listing, you need to check if they come with a print release. Not all photographers offer a print release, and some that do have a print release, have a limited print release restricting where you can print. All of my digital files currently come with a print release that allows you to print anywhere you want. Next week, we will discuss the longevity of digital files.


RAW vs Jpeg

Both of these are ways that images are captured in camera. RAW (sometimes referred to as a digital negative) is not actually an image at all but rather a data file. A lot of photographers will use this to capture as much data as hits the camera sensor. A RAW file does not have any editing done to it. It is straight out of the camera (SOOC). All RAW files have to be processed to some extent. It’s similar to working a negative in the darkroom in film days. RAWs are converted to Jpegs for delivery to clients. When shot in RAW, exposures and white balances, as well as other image corrections, can be made easier.

Jpegs, on the other hand, are image files. When a camera captures in Jpeg, the camera will decide which information is important to the image and “throw” the rest away. This leaves you with less information to work with when corrections need to be made. However, image problems can be corrected to an extent, but it is not as easy as a RAW file and sometimes even impossible depending on the corrections needed.

Next week, we will talk about low and high resolution, the difference between copyright and print release, what an online gallery is, and what archival means. If you think of any other terms that you have heard your photographer say but you really don’t understand, let me know in the comments! You can also jump over to my Facebook page to where this article is linked and ask there.

Click here for Part 2!