What is my photographer talking about?? Words we say and what they mean…part 2

What is my photographer talking about?? Words we say and what they mean…part 2


Last week, we began talking about some of the terms that photographers use in Part 1. This week we are going to finish some of the more common ones.


Low-resolution digital files

Digital files that are considered low-resolution are sized small. They are usually sized for smaller prints and web-use only. They are not meant to print larger prints.


High-resolution digital files

These files are sized large (often the original size if cropping wasn’t done). They can be printed in larger sizes.


Copyright vs print release

This is a big one that is often misunderstood by clients and photographers alike. Even though they are sometimes used in the same context, they mean totally different things! You may need to ask your photographer to clarify what they mean especially if you hear them say “copyright release” because they may actually mean “print release”.


Copyright release is a release turning the copyright of images over to someone else. In the US, photographers own the image. Just because a photo is of you, it does not mean that the photo belongs to you. However, some photographers are willing to transfer ownership (copyright) to their clients for a price. That price is usually pretty hefty since the photographer is losing ownership. You see this a lot with commercial photography and with celebrities. Since the photographer owns the images, this also means you are not allowed to alter the image by editing, cropping, etc. You also can’t scan them and make additional prints. Screenshots are also an infringement. Also, be aware that crediting the photographer or making a disclaimer statement that said photo was not taken by you does not negate copyright infringement (a more recent example of the disclaimer statement is the lip sync videos circulating around Facebook this summer where a statement was put at the bottom of the post saying the song was not their song. Should the copyright owner decide to pursue it, that statement will not save them from copyright infringement charges). Copyright is a really extensive law so be aware that I’m oversimplifying it.

Print Release

More than likely, when your photographer says that you will be given a copyright release, she is meaning a print release. So be sure to get clarification if you hear this to avoid confusion and frustration for both of you. A print release allows you to print your digital files. As mentioned last week, some photographers include print releases with the digital files sold. Some offer print releases for an additional charge. And some have print releases that restrict where you can print your images. This is a good question to ask your photographer when you are in the hiring process!

For some more information regarding this, read Copyright vs. Print Release-A Comparison of Photo Release Forms by Rachel Brenke, TheLawTog.


Online gallery

Pretty much gone are the days of delivery on a CD or DVD. It’s a lot more efficient to have online galleries. These can usually be set to private or password protected if you want to avoid them showing up in Google searches, just check with your photographer. Most online galleries allow you to view your images, download the ones purchased, or order prints from your photographer. Each photographer uses them in different ways. For my business, they are used for images purchased and any other prints clients want ordered.



Archival is something that lasts a long time. Prints and digital files have different lifespans, depending on storage methods.

Prints that are taken care of and printed on certain paper types with certain inks can last over a hundred years. Think of all the photos we still have from the 1800’s! As weird as it may sound, prints typically last longer than digitals…not counting floods, etc.

Digitals aren’t really considered archival. Truth be told, we really don’t know how long they can last yet! Technology changes way too fast. A file format used today may not even be readable in the near future. CDs and DVDs aren’t as long-lasting as we once thought either. A lot of newer computers don’t even have a CD/DVD drive anymore (anyone remember floppy disks?? ). Some will argue about cloud storage but that is not even a guarantee. We don’t foresee it being a problem, but companies do go out of business. What happens to your images then? I see stories all the time about hard drives failing, losing all photos in the process. Recovery attempts are very expensive and not always successful.

Print your photos! I have a ton of personal photos that need to be printed too. Back your digital images up to more than one spot as well. If something ever happens to your digitals and you printed them, you have the means of using the print to get a digital backup (if allowed by your photographer—don’t forget copyright!).

Hopefully, you’ll have a better understanding of what we photographers are talking about so you can make more informed decisions when finding a photographer that can meet your needs.

Note: A couple of the links in here are affiliate links because I absolutely love their products and tell people all the time about them. This helps to afford the updating of my blog. If you wish not to use the affiliate link, you can simply look the company up on Google.