When you are searching for a photographer, it can be really difficult to narrow down your choice to one. That is why I've decided to keep writing blogs to help explain how you can make the process easier on you and easier for your perfect photographer to find you! If you missed my original "Finding Your Photographer" post, you can read it here.
For this post, I decided to decode some of the terms that photographers use. Every industry has their own lingo and sometimes we forget that not everyone knows what all of it means! So, here is a handy dandy guide to help you figure out what terms you should be using in your search and what photographers say when they're explaining their business. Some of it will be obvious, but some are things that bear further explanation. And one or two things are terms that are often seen by photographers when people are searching, and I think that you should know what they are often interpreted as meaning.
Posed Newborn Photographer: This is the type of newborn work that I do, so I figured that I would start there. Posed newborn photography is where babies are on blankets/fabric, in buckets or bowls and the photographer is posing them in order to achieve the look that they desire. (This is why it is SO important to review photographers portfolios. Make sure that their vision is similar to YOUR vision.) If you are choosing a posed newborn photographer, it is vital to know who you are hiring. Not just what their work looks like, but who are they as a photographer? Did they get safety training? How many newborns have they photographed? How long have they been doing posed newborn sessions? Are they vaccinated? How do they clean their props? All of these things will help you make a more informed decision about who they are and if you want to hire them. You can also read my blog about hiring a newborn photographer, if you want a more in-depth view of this topic.
Lifestyle Newborn Photographer: Lifestyle work is when a photographer will give you direction, but they then capture the natural moments between you and your loved ones. Please note: With babies, these sessions are usually done in the home. Many lifestyle photographers do not do posed work and vice versa.) Fresh 48 sessions that are often done in the hospital within 48 hours of a babies birth is also a lifestyle session.
Documentary Photographer: These photographers will document life as it is. For example, there are sessions called "Day In The Life" where they will come to your house in the morning and document your family throughout the day, doing things that you would normally do.
Studio Photographer: These are photographers that mainly work out of their own studio. They have access to all of their equipment, props and paperwork, which really lessens the stress of having to pack everything up and travel. Most studio newborn photographers primarily do posed work.
On-location/Travel Photographer: This means that they will meet you at a designated location in order to capture your portraits.
Professional Lab: Pro labs are exclusively used by professional photographers. (We need a Tax ID and everything!) Many professional labs print with archival quality, which means that they will last for a very long time and will not fade or break apart as easily as consumer lab products do.
Consumer Lab: Consumer labs are where anyone can have their portraits printed. There are a large variety of them out there, so please be aware that quality does vary based on price and know how. For example, a client of mine had a canvas printed at a big box store because it was cheaper, which is a common concern when it comes to photography products. However, after a few years, the canvas has yellowed and the client doesn't even want to display it in their home anymore because it's just not holding up well anymore. Cheaper often means lower quality work, so be mindful of who you order your photography products from.
RAW Images: We get asked about these often, so I wanted to make sure to include them in this blog. RAW images are like film negatives, unless you have a way to process them (like we do with Photoshop), they are pretty useless to the general public. For photographers, we are able to capture a larger amount of data than JPEGs offer. Also, the overwhelming majority of photographers do NOT give out RAW files. This is mainly because it is not representative of what our work looks like in the end. Also, most photographers contracts prohibit clients from editing their images (including putting things like IG filters over images).
JPEGs: These are what your photographer will likely deliver to you. They are printable everywhere and you can open them without the need for special programs.
Full-service (or IPS) photographers: Full service photographers, like myself, have much more contact with their clients and provide a full range of services. For me, this includes a pre-booking meeting, the session, a reveal/ordering session, ability to order products and product delivery.
All-inclusive: This means that the investment that you make includes the session AND some images. Some photographers provide a download link, others offer a USB or CD. Some all-inclusive photographers will blend parts of full-service photography with things like pre-session consultations and offering products, as well. If you choose an all-inclusive photographer, be sure that you are aware of what is included in their pricing.
Proof Gallery: Some photographers will do what is called "soft proofing" on your images to show you what they look like before they full edit your portraits. This is so that they can focus on the images that you choose for full, beautiful edits.
Final Gallery: This type of gallery includes all of your fully edited portraits for selection.
Print Release: This is what a photographer will often give you along with your jpeg's so that you will have proof that you are legally allowed to print your portraits. This is very different from copyright release, which photographers overwhelmingly don't release.
Model Release: A model release is often within the contract. Model releases allow us to legally use images from the session for things like marketing, our portfolios, social media and our websites, among other things. Living the Washington, D.C. area, we understand that this can often be a point of concern for some clients, so it is important to discuss this with your photographer. Some photographers will charge an extra fee for not being able to use images from a session and some, like myself, do not. If you do not want your images on social media, but you are okay with them being on our website or printed out as sample materials, talk to your photographer and see what kind of compromise you can come up with.
Model/Casting Call: A model call is when a photographer is looking to photograph a specific type of session. There is usually a very specific vision that they have in mind, so it is a way for them to be able to be creative without regular client pressures. They will often provide a complimentary (free) session and include a few digital images, as a thank you for modeling for them. Please note that photographers invest time and sometimes money into model calls, and it is important that if you volunteer yourself that you are able to follow through. This means that you read their guidelines and contract, know what their vision is, and are willing to abide by the conditions of the model call. These sessions are not the time to ask for personal portraits. Even if you want "just one shot", it takes time and energy away from the original intention of the session. Model calls usually require a model release, as well, so if you are not comfortable with your images being shared, model calls are likely not going to be what you are looking for.
I hope that this list has helped you to understand a little bit more about the terms that photographers use!
You can read part 3 of my blog about finding the perfect photographer for you, here.