Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding Photography Terms

Hello everyone! Becca here today. I’m going to curate the terms in wedding photography that you may be hearing or reading in your search for the perfect wedding photographer. It’s a very lengthy list- I’m not going to lie.

After spending the better part of a decade capturing images all across the US and abroad, I’ve learned that it’s very common for photographers to use terminology that flies completely over the head of their clients- and even catch myself doing so on occasion. We definitely don’t want that- because our clients should always feel respected, seen and heard. Part of this effort is ensuring that you never feel lost at any point in the process of curating your dream wedding.

Look over this list, and bookmark it to refer to as you come across these words in the wild. It will allow you to have better informed and more productive conversations with any photographer you may speak with!

Also, keep in mind that you’re more than welcome to chat with us at any time- even if we aren’t your imagery team! Mandy or I can always pull off a quick zoom call to work through any needs you may have!

Album design: Album design refers to the process of arranging and designing a wedding photo album, creating a visually appealing and cohesive storytelling presentation of the couple’s wedding. We offer this service on behalf of our couples who buy our bespoke albums- and will hand curate all of your images perfectly.

Ambient light: Ambient light refers to the existing natural or artificial light present in a scene without any additional lighting equipment. It sets the overall illumination and can influence the mood and atmosphere of the photograph.

Aperture: Aperture refers to the adjustable opening in the lens that controls the amount of light entering the camera. It also affects the depth of field, determining how much of the image is in focus.

Archival prints: Archival prints are high-quality prints made using archival-grade materials and techniques to ensure longevity. These prints are designed to resist fading and deterioration over time, allowing the couple to cherish their wedding photographs for generations.

Background blur: Background blur, also known as bokeh, refers to the intentional blurring of the background in a photograph to create a visual separation between the subject and its surroundings. It adds a sense of depth and helps draw attention to the main subject. This is one of the things we are known for and comes from using a shallow depth of field. 

Backlighting: Backlighting occurs when the primary light source is positioned behind the subject, creating a glow or halo effect around the edges. It can produce dramatic silhouettes or create a sense of depth and dimension in the image. In fine art photography, we only use this in very intentional ways.

Backlit silhouettes: Backlit silhouettes are created when the subject is positioned against a bright light source, such as the sun, resulting in a dark outline or silhouette. It can add a touch of mystery and drama to the photograph.

Backup storage: Backup storage involves creating duplicate copies of wedding photographs and storing them in a secure location, such as an external hard drive or cloud storage, to ensure the images are protected and can be recovered in case of data loss. We backup your imagery in three forms- and because of this have never lost a single wedding photo at any point during the existence of the business.

Bokeh: Bokeh refers to the aesthetically pleasing, out-of-focus areas in an image, typically created by a wide aperture. It appears as soft, circular or hexagonal shapes and adds a beautiful, dreamy quality to the background.

Bridal party portraits: Bridal party portraits involve capturing group photographs of the couple with their bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other members of the wedding party. It showcases the close relationships and celebrates the collective joy of the wedding day.

Bridal portrait: A bridal portrait is a solo photograph of the bride, typically taken before the wedding ceremony. It highlights the bride’s beauty, attire, and elegance in a timeless and individualistic manner. We offer bridal portrait sessions in addition to the ones we get on the wedding day as add ons to your package. These are mostly a southern tradition but are gaining popularity nationwide!

Bride and groom portraits: Bride and groom portraits are intimate and focused photographs capturing the couple together. We do several rounds of these during various parts of each wedding day.

Camera settings: Camera settings refer to the various adjustments made on the camera to control exposure, focus, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, and other parameters. Proper camera settings ensure desired image quality and capture the desired mood and style.

Candid photography: Candid photography involves capturing spontaneous and unposed moments, often without the subject’s awareness. It aims to capture genuine emotions and authentic interactions, resulting in natural and candid images.

Catchlights: Catchlights are the reflections of light sources, such as the sun or artificial lights, in a subject’s eyes. They add sparkle and life to the eyes, enhancing the overall attractiveness and impact of the portrait.

Color harmony: Color harmony refers to the pleasing combination and balance of colors in a photograph. It involves careful selection and arrangement of colors to create a visually appealing and unified composition.

Color temperature: Color temperature refers to the perceived warmth or coolness of the light in a photograph. Measured in Kelvin, it affects the color cast and mood of the image, with lower values indicating warmer (more yellow) light and higher values indicating cooler (more blue) light.

Composition: Composition refers to the arrangement and placement of visual elements within the frame of a photograph. It involves considering factors such as balance, symmetry, leading lines, and the rule of thirds to create a visually pleasing and impactful image.

Conceptual photography: Conceptual photography is a genre that aims to convey a specific idea, message, or concept through imagery. It goes beyond capturing a literal representation and often involves creative and artistic interpretation.

Custom presets: Custom presets are pre-configured settings in post-processing software that can be applied to photographs to achieve a specific look or style. They allow photographers to save their editing adjustments and apply them consistently to multiple images.

Depth of field: Depth of field refers to the range of distances in a photograph that appears in sharp focus. It is controlled by the aperture setting and affects how much of the scene appears sharp versus blurred, adding a sense of depth and dimension to the image.

Detail shots: Detail shots focus on capturing close-up images of specific details or elements of the wedding day, such as the rings, flowers, decorations, or intricate patterns. These shots add visual interest and help tell the complete story of the event. We generally do these first thing when we arrive, and they take about an hour to set up properly. 

Double exposure: Double exposure is a technique that involves combining two or more images in-camera or during post-processing to create a single photograph. It results in a unique and artistic effect where multiple subjects or scenes blend together.

Environmental lighting: Environmental lighting refers to the natural or existing lighting conditions present in a location or environment. It includes sunlight, ambient light, or artificial light sources within the surroundings, and can greatly influence the mood and aesthetics of the photograph.

Exposure: Exposure refers to the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor or film. It is determined by the combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings, and affects the brightness, contrast, and overall tonal range of the image.

External flash: An external flash, also known as a speedlight, is a detachable flash unit that can be mounted on the camera’s hot shoe or used off-camera. It provides additional and more versatile lighting options compared to the built-in camera flash, allowing for more control and creative possibilities.

Family Formals: Posed, documentative photographs of the wedding couple and their immediate family and friends. Often used for family record keeping.

Fill flash: Fill flash is the technique of using a flash, typically at a lower intensity, to fill in shadows or provide additional light to balance the exposure. It is often used in outdoor photography to illuminate the subject when the background is bright or backlit.

Fill light: Fill light refers to additional light sources used to fill in shadows and soften harsh lighting conditions. It helps balance the overall exposure and reduces contrast in the scene, resulting in a more even and pleasing lighting effect.

Fine art photography: Fine art photography is a genre that emphasizes the artistic expression and creativity of the photographer. It often involves conceptual compositions and focuses on the aesthetic and emotional qualities of the image.

Flash diffuser: A flash diffuser is an accessory that attaches to the flash unit to soften and distribute the light more evenly. It reduces harsh shadows and produces a softer, more flattering light for portraits and close-up photography.

Flat lay: Flat lay photography is a style where objects are arranged and photographed from a directly overhead perspective. It is often used to showcase details, accessories, or decorative elements in a visually appealing and stylized manner. We do these for every wedding- and they are somewhat of a specialty for us. 

Focus peaking: Focus peaking is a feature available in some cameras that highlights areas of the image that are in focus. It assists photographers in achieving precise focus, especially when using manual focus lenses or in situations with shallow depth of field.

Foreground elements: Foreground elements are objects or subjects positioned in the foreground of an image, closer to the camera. They add depth, context, and visual interest to the composition, leading the viewer’s eye into the scene.

Framing the shot: Framing the shot involves using elements within the scene, such as archways, doorways, windows, or natural elements, to create a frame around the main subject. It adds depth, context, and visual interest to the photograph.

Golden hour: Golden hour, also known as the magic hour, refers to the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the light is soft, warm, and golden in color. It provides a flattering and magical quality of light, ideal for capturing romantic and atmospheric photographs.

Golden light: Golden light refers to the warm, soft, and flattering light that occurs during the golden hour, shortly after sunrise or before sunset. It bathes the scene in a beautiful golden hue, creating a romantic and ethereal atmosphere in photographs.

Golden ratio: The golden ratio is a mathematical concept often used in photography and art to create visually pleasing compositions. It is a ratio of approximately 1:1.618 and is believed to represent a sense of harmony and balance in an image.

High ISO performance: High ISO performance refers to the ability of a camera to produce quality images at higher ISO settings. A camera with good high ISO performance can capture images with minimal noise or grain even in low-light conditions. This is the exact reason why we utilize the Sony Alpha series of cameras

Leading lines: Leading lines are lines within a photograph that guide the viewer’s eye toward a specific point of interest. They can be actual lines in the scene, such as roads, fences, or architectural elements, or implied lines created by the arrangement of objects or shapes.

Lens compression: Lens compression refers to the visual effect created by using a telephoto lens. It makes distant objects appear closer together and flattens the perceived depth in a scene. This effect can be used to create more intimate and compressed compositions.

Long exposure: Long exposure involves using a slow shutter speed to capture an image over an extended period. It is often used to create artistic effects, such as blurring moving subjects or capturing light trails, and can result in unique and ethereal photographs.

Low light photography: Low light photography refers to capturing images in situations with minimal available light (like receptions). It often requires using wide apertures, slow shutter speeds, or higher ISO settings to achieve proper exposure and can result in atmospheric and captivating images.

Macro photography: Macro photography involves capturing extreme close-up images of small subjects (like your engagement ring), revealing intricate details that are not easily visible to the naked eye. It requires specialized lenses or accessories and offers a unique perspective on the subject matter.

Multiple exposure: Multiple exposure is a technique where multiple images are combined in-camera or during post-processing to create a single photograph. It allows for creative and artistic effects, such as blending different subjects or capturing movement in a single frame.

Natural light: Natural light refers to the available light in a scene, such as sunlight or ambient lighting. It is highly valued by photographers for its softness, flattering qualities, and ability to create a natural and authentic atmosphere in photographs. We always seek natural light where we can- but are well versed in off camera flash as well. Beware of someone who describes themselves exclusively as a natural light photographer- this means they cannot perform in scenarios where there is no natural light to work with.

Off-camera flash: Off-camera flash involves using a flash unit that is detached from the camera and positioned at a different angle or location to create more controlled and dynamic lighting. It allows for creative lighting setups and can enhance the overall impact of the photograph. These are primarily used at your reception.

Off-center composition: Off-center composition refers to positioning the main subject or focal point away from the center of the frame. It creates a more visually interesting and balanced composition, drawing the viewer’s attention to the subject while allowing for negative space or supporting elements.

On-camera flash: On-camera flash refers to using the built-in flash on the camera itself to provide additional light. While it can be convenient in certain situations (during exits after sunset), it often produces harsh and unflattering lighting and is generally less desirable than using off-camera flash or natural light.

Overexposure: Overexposure occurs when too much light enters the camera, resulting in a photograph that is too bright or washed out. It can lead to loss of detail and highlights. Proper exposure control is crucial to avoid overexposure and preserve image quality.

Photojournalistic style: Photojournalistic style refers to an approach to photography that emphasizes capturing candid and unposed moments in a documentary or storytelling manner. It aims to capture genuine emotions and events as they unfold, without much intervention or staging. We utilize this for free flowing moments like receptions.

Photo retouching: Photo retouching involves editing and enhancing images to improve their overall quality, appearance, and visual appeal. It may include adjustments to colors, exposure, sharpness, and removing any blemishes or distractions to achieve the desired look. We offer retouching as a service- but generally will not alter your physical appearance unless you expressly ask us to. 

Point of view: Point of view refers to the perspective or angle from which a photograph is taken. It can greatly impact the composition and storytelling of an image, as different points of view offer unique visual experiences and convey specific messages or emotions.

Posing techniques: Posing techniques are methods used by photographers to guide and direct their subjects during a photoshoot. It involves suggesting specific body positions, gestures, and expressions to achieve flattering and natural-looking poses that highlight the subject’s best features. We consider our ability to masterfully pose subjects one of our greatest strengths. 

Post-processing: Post-processing is the editing and enhancement of images after they have been captured. It involves tasks such as adjusting colors, exposure, contrast, cropping, and applying creative effects to achieve the desired look and style.

Prime lens: A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length, meaning it doesn’t zoom in or out. It is valued for its sharpness, wide aperture capabilities, and ability to produce high-quality images. 

RAW format: RAW format is a file format that captures and stores all the data recorded by the camera’s sensor without any in-camera processing or compression. It offers photographers greater flexibility in post-processing by providing more extensive control over color, exposure, and other image parameters. As a rule, we do not release RAW photographs at any time for any reason- they are not an accurate representation of what the final image looks like.

Reflector: A reflector is a photography accessory that helps redirect or manipulate light. It is typically a collapsible panel with a reflective surface, such as silver, gold, or white, used to bounce or fill light onto the subject, reducing shadows and improving overall illumination. This is why we look for rooms with light colored walls- it allows us to reflect light from every angle. 

Rule of odds: The rule of odds is a compositional guideline that suggests an odd number of subjects or elements in a photograph can create a more visually appealing and balanced composition. It is believed to add a sense of harmony and naturalness to the image.

Rule of space: The rule of space is a compositional principle that recommends leaving empty or negative space around the main subject or action in an image. It provides visual breathing room and can create a sense of balance and tension within the frame.

Rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is a fundamental compositional guideline that divides the image into a grid of nine equal parts using two horizontal and two vertical lines. Placing key elements along these lines or at their intersections helps create a visually pleasing and balanced composition.

Second shooter: A second shooter refers to an additional photographer who assists the primary photographer during a wedding or event. They provide alternative angles, capture candid moments, and help ensure comprehensive coverage of the event. You can also have a third, fourth or fifteenth shooter if you want- although we find that three is usually the max before it starts to become repetitive.

Shutter speed: Shutter speed refers to the length of time that the camera’s shutter remains open when taking a photograph. It controls the amount of light that enters the camera and affects the motion blur in the image. A faster shutter speed freezes motion, while a slower shutter speed creates motion blur.

Signature editing style: A signature editing style refers to a photographer’s unique and consistent approach to post-processing and enhancing their images. It encompasses the specific techniques, color grading, tonal adjustments, and overall aesthetic choices that give their photographs a distinctive look and feel.

Softbox: A softbox is a light modifier used in photography to create soft, diffused lighting. It is typically a large, rectangular-shaped device with a translucent panel that diffuses the light source, resulting in even and gentle illumination with reduced harsh shadows. You won’t often see these at weddings unless we have very specific circumstances. 

Soft focus: Soft focus refers to a deliberate blurring of the image to create a dreamy, ethereal, or romantic effect. It is often achieved through the use of specialized lenses, filters, or post-processing techniques that soften the edges and reduce overall sharpness while maintaining a pleasing level of detail.

Sun flare: Sun flare occurs when direct sunlight enters the camera lens, creating streaks or rays of light within the image. It can add a sense of warmth, atmosphere, and artistic flair to photographs, particularly when used purposefully to enhance the mood or create a unique visual effect.

Sunset shots: Sunset shots are photographs taken during the golden hour, the period just before and after sunset when the light is soft, warm, and diffused. These shots often feature captivating colors, dramatic skies, and a serene atmosphere, creating visually stunning and evocative images. We include sunset sessions in every single wedding we shoot.

Tonal range: Tonal range refers to the range of tones, from light to dark, that are captured and displayed in an image. It represents the level of contrast and detail present in different areas of the photograph and plays a crucial role in conveying depth, dimension, and overall visual impact.

Tungsten lighting: Tungsten lighting refers to a type of artificial lighting commonly used in indoor photography. It produces a warm, yellowish light similar to traditional incandescent bulbs. Tungsten lighting can create a cozy and intimate atmosphere but may require color correction techniques to achieve accurate color rendition.

Umbrella diffuser: An umbrella diffuser is a light modifier used in photography to soften and diffuse the harsh light emitted by a flash or studio strobe. It is attached to the light source and spreads the light over a larger area, resulting in a softer and more pleasing illumination with reduced shadows.

Underexposure: Underexposure occurs when a photograph is captured with insufficient light, resulting in a darker overall image. It can be intentional to create a moody or dramatic effect or unintentional when the camera’s exposure settings are not properly adjusted for the lighting conditions.

Wedding day timeline: A wedding day timeline is a detailed schedule that outlines the sequence of events and activities during a wedding day. It helps keep everything organized and ensures that key moments, such as the ceremony, reception, and formal portraits, are captured efficiently and without any delays.We generally work with your planner on this to ensure we schedule adequate time for all your imagery needs without overwhelming you.

Wide-angle lens: A wide-angle lens is a lens with a short focal length that provides a wider field of view, allowing photographers to capture a larger scene or fit more into the frame. It is commonly used in wedding photography for capturing group shots, expansive landscapes, or creating a sense of depth and perspective.

Wide aperture: Wide aperture refers to a large lens opening that allows more light to enter the camera. It is represented by a smaller f-number (e.g., f/1.8) and is desirable for wedding photography as it enables shallow depth of field, emphasizing the subject and creating a pleasing background blur.

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