Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photography Blog by Trifon Anguelov Photography

1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 |


Photographer’s Jargon For Everyday People

polaroid camera

Old Polaroid Instant Camera

I know exactly how you feel. You just started looking for a photographer to take your family portraits or looking to hire one for your wedding.

The good news is that there is no shortage of photographers nowadays unless you live in Antarctica or on a remote island surrounded my thousands of miles of water and no other humans around.

The chances are that there are so many photographers in your area and it could be overwhelming to chose the right one. Photographers come in “all shapes and sizes”:

– Portrait photographers: who take family, baby, newborn, high school seniors, headshots photos

– Event photographers: who capture birthdays, anniversaries, parties, graduations, or any gathering where people are having fun

– Wedding photographers: who you hire to take your engagement and later wedding day photos

The bad news is that once you visited different photographers websites, started doing research online and eventually meet face to face some of these photographers, you will start hearing terms you never heard before. And frankly speaking, some might not even make much sense to you. It might feel like a secret language spoken by just few in order to keep in secrecy the photography craft or make the clients so intimidated by the jargon that they will be willing pay whatever it takes to get over the photo session as soon as possible. No questions asked. Just send us the bill.

If you fell the same or similar way and continue to read this page, I will try to explain some of the photography jargon in simple, plain English words so that you are educated and don’t feel intimidated. Like a photographer myself, working with clients in San Francisco Bay Area, I came up with the list after interacting with clients and having to explain some of the terms I thought they already knew.

So here is the current index of the terms I will be going over. You can click on each word and jump to the explanation or can scroll down and read all of them one by one.

Golden Hour
Proof Images
Photo Retouching
Photo Enhancing
Flash Guns
Lightroom and Photoshop
Soft Light and Harsh Light
Sun Flares
Primary and Second Shooter
Color Balance
Digital Images
Model Release
Copyright Release
RAW Files
Low Resolution (low-res) Files
High Resolution (high-res) Files
First Look
L Lenses
Pro Body


Golden Hour:

Refers to the time of the day when the sun light is so pleasant to capture and the photos look very beautiful to look later, that one should pay in gold to have this time 24 hours per day. It’s the best time of the day to have photos taken and is usually one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. So don’t be surprise that a photographer would do their best to convince you to schedule your session during this time of the day. Trust them. This is true and not a myth.

SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera):

What you should think when hearing this acronym, is raw diamonds just discovered by the miners. In this case, these are images the photographer captured without any enhancements or adjustments. Like a raw diamond needs to be polished and shaped to shine to its best, so the photographers process all SOOC digital images before you get to see them. If you photographer insist to give you SOOC and not processed images, ask him why.


Wedding Portrait at Allied Art Guild, Menlo Park, CA

Wedding Portrait at Allied Art Guild, Menlo Park, CA


Proof Images:

Another term related to the digital images a photographer takes. The proof images are already enhanced version of the photos the photographer took and are usually presented as small format prints (4×6″ or less). This way the client can see how they would look like before he or she decides to order large format prints or canvases. Digital proofs are obviously, the digital version of the final images a client can see before making a selection or ordering prints.

Photo Retouching:

Retouching has to do with making your skin look smoother, removing any pimples, scars, blemishes, removing litter on the ground or electric poles from your images. Anything which the photographer considers distraction or not pretty enough to be in your images. Think of it like twisting reality. I am sure you all have seen the video of over sized and not that pretty girl, looking like a top beauty model after digital retouching. If not, hit Youtube. There are tons of videos available.

Photo Enhancing:

Unlike the photo retouching which is altering the reality, photo enhancing simply is about making the images look prettier. Not all about shaving few pounds with Photoshop, or patching the bare grass spot in the photo.Enhancing has more to do with making the colors more vibrant, the whole image brighter and sharper. This of it like the way how you adjust the picture of your TV for brightness, sharpness and vivid colors. The picture and the subjects are not changed, but more the way how they look. To read more on what is the difference between photo retouching and enhancing, make sure to check this guide: Wedding Photography FAQs


If you think these are DJ strobe lights pulsating in high frequency, hold your breath.  These are professional grade lights powered by AC or batteries. Photographers use them to illuminate large venues, in their studios or anywhere where additional light is required. These are mounted on light stands and are like mini Suns helping the photographer to get well lid and dramatic portraits of you.


Wedding Deserts at Los Altos County Club, Los Altos, CA

Wedding Deserts at Los Altos County Club, Los Altos, CA


Flash Guns:

Don’t think of photographers as a violent bunch. This has nothing to do with firearms and guns. It is a jargon for small portable lights, photographers use to illuminate you and your surroundings when there is no natural light available. Like at night, in a dark church, before sunrise or after sunset. These are battery operated and provide enough light so you can recognize yourself in the final images.


When you photographer talks about “bokeh” what he is really trying to tell you that the background of your pictures would be blurry, while you being in front of the background would be sharp in focus. It’s the effect that brings more attention to the subject and less to the distracting background. Now that you know what it is, surprise your photographer and ask him to create images of you with beautiful bokeh. 🙂

Lightroom and Photoshop:

These are just the names of the most popular digital editing software applications. Now that you know what is a RAW file and JPEG, what is retouching and enhancing, we can all put it together. Lightroom allows the RAW or JPEG (TIFF) files to be enhanced and exported as JPEG so you can see and print, while Photoshop allows to edit RAW files, retouch them and export as JPEG (or TIFF, or PNG). And this is what you might need to know about these two.

Soft Light and Harsh Light:

It’s light what makes photographs after all. With no light there will be no shadows (dark areas) and highlights (bright areas) in the photos. When photographers talk about soft light, what they mean is that there are less shadows and less highlights and the image looks less contrasty. The contrast is when you have dark shadow area next to bright highlight area. Soft light is available when there are clouds in the sky which filter the harsh sun like the transparent curtains in your room, during the time close to sunrise and sunset when the Sun is low and not straight above you.

Harsh light is when the Sun is overhead and falls straight down on anyone being photographed. This is usually the case in a bright sunny day and in the open space with no trees or buildings to cast shadows. The harsh light creates strong shadows which are not very pleasant for portraits usually and leave you with dark circles under the eyes (Sun falls down on your face and causes the shadows from your eye bras).

Sun Flares:

These are rainbow looking circles which are created when camera and lens are pointed towards the direction of the Sun. As the light enters the lens, some light is refracted and captured as flares. Most photographers are aware of the flare and can use them for additional artistic effects. The images taken with camera towards the direction of the Sun also have haze which gives the images haze and dreamy look.


Bride & Groom Portrait in Mountain View, CA

Bride & Groom Portrait at Rengstorff House, Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA



As you might have already guest this one: it has to do with placing you between the Sun and photographer’s camera in a such way that the Sun is at your back. Doesn’t sounds like we were told: The Sun should be at your face when taking pictures. What? Having the clients blinded and squinting their eyes with Sun in their face? No. This is not what photographers do. Having the Sun at your back, gives you a light rim around your hair and face (if in profile) and makes everything looking fuzzy and dreamy.

Primary and Second Shooter:

Unlike in the military, there are no ranks and hierarchy between photographers. You might hear this from wedding photographers most likely and what they are actually trying to tell you that a Primary photographer is the “Boss” and the Secondary photographer is the “Helper”. The primary is the one who you will hire and would be responsible for your images. The Second photographer would be there to capture the same scene from a different angle or position. And again, photographers have nothing to do with shooting firearms. They just like to refer to taking pictures as “shooting” and call other photographers: “shooters”. Go figure.


These are two acronyms which stand for Make Up Artist (MUA) and Hair and Make Up Artist (H/MUA). Nothing fancy. These are the people who would make you look pretty for your photo session so that the photographers can capture the images. Important if you like to look beautiful and pretty as a cover girl or simply to enhance your natural beauty. These skilled professionals know how to make a woman looks at her best.

Color Balance:

If your photographer mentions color balancing of your images, you should short list him immediately. This is not what the armature photographers usually do, because requires skills and time. Color balancing is making sure your skin tones would look natural without hint of orange, red, green or blue cast. When taking pictures indoors in restaurants, homes with incandescent or fluorescent lights overhead, these lights can color your skin in orange or green. It’s the photographer’s job to correct this and not make you look like a Halloween pumpkin or Walking Dead zombie.

Digital Images:

This is what nowadays all digital cameras we have shows us on the LCD screens. This is what we see on our smartphone screens after taking a selfie. Digital files which contain the moments of our lives. This is what most photographers would give you after the end of the session. Unless, you want to buy paper prints of course. More on prints below.


These are the physical paper prints you get from a photo printing lab when you give them your digital images. Prints are what we frame and put in albums. Prints come in different sizes (4×6″, 5×7″, 8×10″ , etc) and are printed on different material (photo paper, fabric canvases, metal plates, etc).


Bridal Bouquet at St, Ceilia Church in San Francisco, CA

Bridal Bouquet at St, Ceilia Church in San Francisco, CA



This acronym stands for: Time For Prints (or Photos). Many upcoming models looking to create their own portfolios, so they can get hired by modeling agencies would partner with known photographer and barter their time and beauty in exchange for high-resolution images. The photographer can add these images to his or her own portfolios to display the work he or she can do. So it is a win-win situation for both. As a everyday client, unless you have astounding beauty and look, it might be hard to get TFP. But it is worth the try.

Model Release:

This one is again for models, but in case you found a photographer who can do TFP session with you, he or she most likely would ask you to sign a model release form. The purpose of this form is you as a model or a client, to state that you will not have any monetary or rights claim on the final images. It’s required for a photographer to have a model release form it he or she are trying to submit these images for publications or to sell them as stock images. As no one would buy re rent a house without a clearly defined owner or multiple owners, so the companies or publishing houses would not accept images where the ownership is not clear.

Copyrights Release:

In most countries around the work, the photographer owns the copyrights of the images taken. This means that you like a client even if you purchase the digital images from your wedding, are still obligated to let the photographer know before you try to get them published, printed in magazines, etc. However, if the photographer agrees to transfer the copyrights to the images to you, you no longer have to do that. The only thing you need to do, is have the images with copyright release transferred, become a movie star and sell the images from your wedding to the highest bidder. It not, don’t bother with it.

RAW Files:

This has nothing to do with raw fish and sushi, but is a term photographers use to describe the digital files they download from the camera into their computers before they start to digital enhance the images. These files cannot be easily open with most image viewers and have to be converted to readable file formats as JPEG, TIFF, PNG, etc. As RAW files are simply the non enhanced images, asking the photographer to give you the RAW files means you will not benefit from any enhancement he or she would to on these images. It is similar to asking a jeweler to give you the raw diamond instead of ready to wear ring he made just for you. RAW files are for photographers who know how to use and enhance them. Settle down for JPEG files instead.


JPEG is a file format, way to compress and make the RAW digital files readable for everyone. It a universal format and has been around for ages. You can open and view on any device with a screen, you can print them in any print lab, you can keep them and be sure they can be opened even years later.

High Resolution (high-res) Files:

High resolution digital files are referred to files which contain most of the digital pixels making your images. The size of these high-res files is close to what the digital camera is capable of capturing. Large prints can be printed from these files (example: 16×20″) if required. Most high-res files are up to 25MB of size for a single file. If you are not planning to print in large format, them most likely you don’t need them.

Low Resolution (low-res) Files

Low resolution digital files are trimmed version of the high resolution files. The size is reduced by compressing the pixels and also discarding pixels so the image size is reduced. These are still high quality images but in a smaller size. If you plan to print pictures no larger than 5×7″ you can ask for low-res images and save money on the high-res additional cost. Displaying online and sharing on Facebook doesn’t require high-res images either. Most online photo sharing sites, compress the high-resolution images anyway, so you paying for high-res images only to have them “truncated” when posted online might not be a savvy use of your hard earned money. Low resolution images are created to save space and time, when sharing online, uploading or downloading. It has nothing to do with the image quality as many people think.


This is simply a collection of photographer’s best images, curated carefully for the purpose to wow the clients and demonstrate the photographer’s skills and style. In the past portfolios were composed of actual paper prints and carried around or available at photographer’s studio for the clients to touch, feel and see. As all the film cameras are thing from the past and clients rarely have to visit a studio anymore to have their portraits taken, almost every photographer has their portfolios online. Available 24×7 to everyone from everywhere. If you cannot find photographer’s portfolio on his website, you might be dealing with a Photography Scam artist. Don’t fall pray, be educated: How To Avoid Photography Scams

First Look:

This term is used for weddings and means the groom would have the opportunity to see the bride in her wedding dress before the actual ceremony. The first look is usually planned to happen for about 30-45 minutes and in a location where the couple won’t be distracted or interrupted. As the groom reacts to his bride beauty and she is excited to see him dazzled, so the photographer has great opportunity to capture the feelings and passion both have for each other. For more on first look and the wedding day, check this guide: How To Prepare For Your Wedding Day

L Lenses:

If your photographer uses Canon cameras and lenses, you might hear him brag or mention that he uses L lenses. Well, these are not L-shaped lenses but a model of Canon lenses with professional quality. These lenses usually have a red ring, have the top quality glass and glass coating. In everyday terms: L lenses are better quality and suppose to take better images. If you photographer knows how to use them. It’s about the chef and not the stove or knifes he is using.


Wedding Details at Cinnabar Hills Golf Course, San Jose, CA

Wedding Details at Cinnabar Hills Golf Course, San Jose, CA


Pro Body:

Well this one should be easy but I will explain it anyway. Not all digital cameras are created equal. Some are more affordable and designed for everyday consumer in mind. These are called consumer (amateur) bodies. Some are more advanced but still not considered full professional (pro) bodies. These are prosumer (mix of pro & consumer). And finally, there are professional (pro) camera bodies which are used by professional photographers. These are top of the line and have many advanced features as: durability, ability to super fast focus, waterproof sealing, dual memory cards, etc.



I hope that you found this article educational and useful. I also hope that you learned some of photographer’s jargon and would feel more comfortable when discussing your portrait session or wedding with your photographer. If you think some of your friends would benefit from it, please share this article with them. Better educated consumers are better for the photography as a whole. If you have any comments, feedback or would to suggest a new term, please add them into the comments below. I would consider adding it to the list.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov is the owner of Trifon Anguelov Photography, a Premiere Bay Area Wedding and Portrait Photographer in Mountain View, CA. He offers full range of portrait, events, engagements and wedding photography services. To learn more about him and his work, visit his website.



How To Contract a Secondary Wedding Photographer

Wedding Ceremony by Trifon Anguelov Photography

No doubt, every wedding or event photographer has been using or is thinking to use the help of a secondary photographer. Having one on a 10 hours long wedding or a wedding when more than 200 guests are invited, it is simply invaluable. The second shooter is not simply another camera body and lens on the wedding. He or she is going to help you save your energy by not having to run everywhere and endure the entire stress of photographing the wedding day by yourself.

By having someone else being at the cocktail hour and photographing the reception venue and guests socializing at the reception, while you as a primary photographer working with the bride and groom on their portraits, is simply utilizing your time and talent appropriately.

Besides the fact that a second photographer would allow you to capture images from two places at the same time, he or she are also indispensable for capturing the wedding events from a different angles. Many churches restrict the movement during the ceremony and having a second shooter would allow you to get both the groom expression when he sees the bride entering the church and the bride and her dad walking down the aisle to the altar.

Lastly, having someone with spare camera body, set of lenses to borrow in case yours fail for whatever reason is never a bad idea. The second photographer can also give you a hand while setting the lights for the wedding reception or help you tear them down after the end of the wedding. With all these benefits of course, there lies the potential of misunderstandings and conflict of interest if the terms of the working relationship are not well-defined.

Here are few for example to get your head spinning:
•    The copyright law in USA gives the image taker (the person who pressed the shutter button) the copyright of the images, so technically the second shooter can prevent the primary shooter (completely legally) from using his images in any shape or form
•    The second shooter can leak the wedding images on his Facebook site and tag the bride and groom even before the primary photographer has a chance to show them the images. He took the images and what harm a bit of self-promotion can do?
•    Nothing stops the second shooter from passing his business card to all of the wedding guests and offering competitive prices to yours. What is the whole fuss about it? The primary photographer already has tons of clients and need the second photographer’s help. Why not relieve his pain and serve some of his clients?

Well these are just few potential issues you might run into when hiring a secondary wedding photographer if you don’t have a contract with well-defined terms and signed by the second shooter. Below are the areas you should consider addressing into the contract:

•    Wedding Details:

Most likely you have asked your wedding clients to provide you with details about their wedding as location, start and end times, names of wedding coordinator and point of contact on the wedding day. Just because you have this information and know it, it doesn’t mean your second shooter would magically read your mind and have it as well. Small section in your contract for these details would go a long way to make sure your second wedding photographer knows enough about the day and venues to do his / her job as you might expect.

•    Compensation:

Listing the compensation amount and payment terms into the contract is a good idea. Are you going to cover any travel expenses, food allowance or is the second shooter going to get a meal at the wedding? Including these into the contract would help the second shooter understand how is he or she going to get paid and how much.

•    Minimum Number Of Images:

If you expect from the second shooter to deliver a specific number of images for the time he or she is contracted, then list it into your contract. This way the second photographer would be aware and understand before the wedding how many images are expected. If you expect at least 50-70 images per hour of shooting time, then specify that clearly.

•    List of Expected Images:

Many primary wedding photographers have a specific list of images they expect from their second shooters but fail to mention them or discuss them with the second shooter. Vague descriptions as ‘Go at the reception hall and take decoration images” or “Get me some ring and shoes images” might mean enough for you but imagine how a second shooter might interpret this. If you have a specific list of images you expect, list them into your contract so there are no misunderstandings later.

•    Image Quality:

If you have any (most likely you have) image quality requirements, make sure they are specifically listed. Are you OK with images having -2EV or +2EV exposure variance from the proper exposure level? Are you looking for artistic or formal images? Candid or Camera Aware images? Overexposed with flares and light leaks images? Use few words to describe this to the second shooter and I can assure you both of you would be having a much better long-lasting working relationship.

•    Post-Processing: 

If you expect the second shooter “to call the keepers” and deliver only the workable images but no out-of-focus, misfires or badly composed images, add his to your contract. If you are OK with full dump of all images taken during the event and you prefer to do the selection, then you can ask for all the images.

•    Contracting Terms:

This one is for the lawyers but important to have in your secondary wedding photography contract.  Mentioning that you are hiring the second shooter as an independent contractor and not offering any long-term employment contract whatsoever, is a good idea. If you operate in USA, you might have to issue IRS 1099 Form and report the payments you have made.

•    Delivery Schedule:

Defining the deadline for the second shooter to deliver the images to you sets clear date for you to receive the images. If you have a deadline you have to deliver the wedding images to your client, you will need to receive the images and to be able to see the final set before starting the post-process.

•    Client Privacy:

You are responsible for protecting and ensuring the privacy of your clients is protected. Many wedding photography contracts has this clause and you as primary photographer who signed a contract with your clients, are liable if their privacy is breached. Define what you expect from the second shooter. Can he blog or post on Facebook the names of your clients, their religion, address or any personal details? This is something to take seriously.

•    Solicitation:

Most likely you don’t want the second shooter to distribute his or her contact information to all the wedding gusts or to solicit clients on the wedding you have booked and hired him to help you with. It’s common courtesy you might think, but are you going to be protected without a specific clause in your contract? If in doubt, add a clause.

•    Business Confidentiality:

Hiring someone not directly involved into your business would reveal some of your business practices, pricing and techniques. Do you feel comfortable of these secrets being freely shared with anyone the second photographer knows or you would require to keep them private and not shared with anyone? Detailing what could be shared by the second shooter and what not in your contract is a good idea.

•    Images Copyright:

The copyright in USA gives image creator (in the case of film and digital photography, the person who presses the shutter button) the copyright of the images he or she takes. The second shooter would take many images on the wedding. Unless, you ask him to revoke his copyright on the images and transfer it to you, you might be liable if using his or her images without explicit permission. Also you will produce prints and albums with his or her images. Are you going to pay for the copyright to have each image published? Leaving this undefined will make you vulnerable to future disputes.

•    Blackout Period:

Are you thinking to offer the second photographer an opportunity to use the images for their own portfolio, on their Facebook page or promotion instead of payment? If so, you as primary photographer who booked the wedding and suppose to provide the images to your client, don’t want these images to be published or be distributed before you had a chance to present them to the client, right? If so, then clearly mention in your contract how long the secondary photographer is not allowed to publish or use the images. 60 to 90 days blackout period is not uncommon.

•    Prints and Reproduction:

This one is related to the previous one somehow. This clause would prevent the second photographer from offering prints from his images to your clients, producing album or any other type of profiting from the images. If you don’t want your client to receive prints offers from your second shooter on cheaper prices than yours or no offers at all, having this term specified in your contract is a must.

•    Equipment Loan Details:

If you plan to load any equipment to the secondary photographer (camera body, lenses, flashes, company car), make sure you list these and their condition into the contract. Do you expect them returned into the condition you have loaned them? How would you handle any potential damages, or lost? It’s good for both of you to know that in advance.


I am sure I have missed some of the terms or points a perfect second photographer contract should have but the above should give you a good list of areas to add to your contract. I am neither a lawyer nor have a law degree, so consult your legal adviser or lawyer to draft the final contract.

I also understand that some primary photographers pick a second photographer based on mutual friendship and well established trust and are not going to consider to hire someone they cannot trust. So if some of the terms sound too demanding and you believe might cast a shadow of mistrust on the second shooter, ask your self:

  • Is the business I have worked so hard to establish and grow can be impacted by any damage the secondary shooter can do to my client or my business?
  • Do I feel OK with being unprotected and not having the legal grounds to correct improper behavior or defend my business?

While you will hire a secondary photographer for the mutually beneficial and professional relationship, having well-defined grounds for this relationship would be a great peace of mind for both you and the second photographer.

I hope you found this article useful and easy to read. If you think this information might be useful to anyone who is planning to hire a secondary photographer, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. To learn more about the services I offer, visit my Wedding Packages page. You can read more about the author on his Wedding Photography Site.