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Photographer Glossary

Digital negatives? Print release? Model release? You see, in order to sound all official we photogs use a lot of fancy jargon on our websites. It wasn't until the other night I was discussing some possible promotions (stay tuned!!) and was discussing what would be included that my mom was once again struggling with what everything meant - printing rights is a big one. I chalked it up to old age (sorry Mom) but then my sister chimed in that she too wouldn't know what that meant. Considering much of their issues were with the terminology I use in my session descriptions, I realized that could be a problem...


So, here is a short glossary to photographer terms you should definitely understand before agreeing to work with me or any photographer for that matter!


Consultation – Whether it’s a sit down, a phone call or email, it is good to meet with your photographer to discuss what you’re looking for out of the shoot. Specific images you want to get, post-processing styles you like, location and other details your photographer should be aware of.

Contract – A photographers safety net. Usually an explanation of what is included in your session (shooting time, fee, high-res files if any, and a model release). Both parties should agree and sign prior to the session. Copyright is often discussed in this as well and whether or not you will have any permission to copy/print your images.

Copyright Release – Anytime you work with a professional photographer, they own the images they take. Paying for your session does NOT mean you own your photographs. A Copyright release is a letter from your photographer that says you can do this, this, and that with any images, prints, etc. they may have given you. 

That being said, in order to walk into Wal-mart and have pictures printed from a CD your photographer may have given you, Wal-mart employee John should ask you for your copyright release – meaning you have written permission to be printing something someone else (your photographer) owns. Now, John making $6.50 an hour won’t always ask for a copyright release, but he should. And you should have one just in case - my clients have run into problems with this.

Deposit – A percentage of your session fee (or on top of) that may not be refundable for various reasons. This varies from photographer to photographer. Right now I don't keep my workload large enough that I require it.

Digital Negatives – Digital files or the images on the computer taken by your photographer.

Framed Mediocrity – A framed picture you print at your local Wal-mart or drug store instead of a professional lab. Just saying.

High-Res Files – Have you ever tried to save a small image from the internet and then stretch it big in Word only to have it look awful? That’s a low-resolution file. High-Resolution files are digital images on your computer that can be zoomed in really far and made larger without getting all crazy looking. The bigger the image in dimensions (not file size) the better it will print.

Model Release – A piece of paper that says you weren’t tied to a wall and photographed against your will. 
 Most photographers will also include terminology that means you can’t freak out if your face shows up on our website, a business card or a promotional pamphlet for their business. There’s really no reason to not sign one.

Post-Processed/Processed – Processing is fancy talk for edited, retouched or complete images that have been manipulated or cleaned up in Photoshop for epic awesomeness.

Previews/Teasers/Samples – Photographer favorites from your session posted on a blog, Facebook or professional site. These keep you occupied while your photographer sorts through the images from your session and post-processes.

Prints – A printed final copy of your image. When you are required to buy prints more than likely you are not entitled to the digital high-res files from your session. 

Printing Rights - You have permission to print digital files for your personal use (you can't sell or use a photographers images to make money) through a written agreement with your photographer. I can't tell you how many times I heard "my photographer said it was ok" when people were attempting to illegally make prints of copyrighted work when I worked at a copy store. Nine times out of ten - they really didn't.

Proofs – Proofs can be anything from unprocessed digital files on the computer, printed images for you to select from, or the final, finished images that you can select from to be printed. Each photographer has a different definition depending on how they work. With Kelli Brewer Photography, proofs are your unprocessed images from which you select the images you want to be edited, touched up and will become your final images.

Session/Shoot – The time where you and your photographer are on location, taking photos.

Web/Online Gallery – An internet based viewing of your images. I use online galleries to help you select the images you want post-processed and also to order final, edited pictures from a professional printer.

With Kelli Brewer Photography, your session includes a certain number of digital files from the computer of your images that you may lawfully print. Any images printed, distributed, copied, crafted or sold outside of this agreement is copyright infringement. Yes, this has happened to me. It sucks. Most of all – it’s rude.

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