There's a lot to consider when hiring a photographer for your wedding, and lots of them to choose from! Wedding photography is one of the most popular genres for photographers to specialize in. Typically engaged couples will solicit friends, family and social media for suggestions and become inundated with eager photographers ready to shoot their special day. Then come sifting through websites, reading different packages and trying to understand what you get, and for how much.
I've put together a few terms in hopes to help clarify it a bit. We'll go ahead and start with the most asked topic:
Usage Rights, Copyright, Permission to Print, Partial or Full Rights
Lots of people get hung up on the "rights" of the photographs, and who has them. You'll hear from lots of sources that you should own them, and not to work with a photographer that won't give you all the rights. That's not exactly how it works, or sound advice.
The general rule under copyright law is that the creator of an image (the photographer) owns all rights to it. However, that rule can be modified by contract. Modifications could include restrictions on what the photographer can do with the photos and permission for you to use the photos (if you create albums or prints yourself). Most photographers today share usage / print rights with the client, which is all that you will need to share your photos. This means the photographer can still use the photos for marketing purposes. Even though you have shared usage / right to print, you still do not own photos. Essentially the photographer releases the rights to your photos for downloads and printing, but does not release the right to profit from them. So you cannot sell the photos (using them for commercial use). This is something that you can inquire about from your photographer, but the fee is rather hefty. You can read more about photography copyright law at The U.S. Copyright Office. The LawTog also has some good resources.
Session Fee, Sitting fee, Coverage, or Service Fee
Generally, this means a fee for booking the photographer’s time. What's included varies by photographer, as sometimes this includes digital files or products, and some photographers don't include anything with their session fee. If there is a separate price for their services and another fee for products, this means you hiring the photographer for your wedding day, and you'll have to purchase digital files, prints, and albums separately.
Second Photographer/Shooter or Assistant
A second photographer means another photographer who will also take photos at the wedding. There is typically an additional fee for having a second shooter, as they're hired by the main photographer (unless you hire a company who offers multiple shooters, such as a husband and wife team). The lead photographer will generally assign them to different duties during the day, such as groom/groomsman photos, details, etc. An assistant usually helps the photographer set up lights, carry gear, and help ensure the photographer can work more efficiently. This can include helping wrangle family members for formal portraits.
Edited Images (Retouched or Processed)
This is a cost that is often overlooked by clients. Photographers will spend a considerable amount of time after the wedding working through your images, removing blemishes, softening skin, making colors pop, lightening or darkening areas of a photograph, and just overall improvements to images. A photographer can easily spend an average of one to five hours on editing for every hour of photography coverage. This also includes resizing, cropping, and making images suitable for printing.
If you are ordering products (such as albums or prints) the photographer will more than likely create a gallery or supply a USB stick as a way for you to preview the images first. These images are sometimes raw images without editing, and some photographers will show you edited images so that you can order final versions. Again, it depends on your photographer and the agreement you have in your contract.
Digital Files, or Photos on a USB
This typically means that you'll get digital photos on a USB stick or online gallery. Photographers will typically give you a set amount of images per hour of coverage (for example, 600 images for a 6 hour wedding). Other photographers will give you with as many photos as they think it takes to tell the overall story of your wedding. If a wedding package includes the digital images, the pricing might be a more expensive to compensate for time spent in post-processing.
This is the logo (generally the photographer's name, logo, or "PROOF") imprinted on the digital file you're able to view. It is often displayed so that clients cannot use unedited images that are not included in their package, or images that does not show the photographer's best work (edited final images).
High-Res, Printable, Web-Optimized
These are terms that photographers use to describe the file size of the images you receive (via a USB stick or online gallery). Typically photographers will provide you with a web-sized image, which means it’s optimal for sharing on Facebook, Instagram or other social media. However, these files will not print well. If a wedding photographer offers you photo files that are high-res or "printable", it usually means the image is suitable for printing in albums or on larger formats such as canvases. If you are offered “digital proofs” it usually means smaller images that you can review before purchasing photography products.
A few questions to ask your photographer can include:
What digital files do I get? Are they optimized for web or are they suitable for printing?Do I have permission to print the images myself or share them on social media?If I do I have permission to print the images, how large will they print?
Collection, or Package vs. A la Carte
When a photographer uses the word “package” or “collection” it means that there are several products or services bundled together that will designed to save you money rather than ordering products a la carte. This simply means you would pay for each product and service separately.
Print or Album Credit
A credit is a specific amount of money that you have to spend on prints or other products. Photographers will generally include a certain amount of money based on the package you select, especially if the photographer is only delivering electronic files.
Online Viewing Gallery
This is a special unique website hosted by the photographer for your wedding photos. You’ll receive a URL/website address and it will feature images from your day. This may or may not be password protected. This serves as a way for you to share the album with family and friends, and over social media. Galleries can also be set up for viewing proofs (as mentioned above) or with final images with photographs ready to select for print.
I hope this helps with some of the general terms that you'll see when researching photographers for your wedding. Send me a message if you have any questions, or, if you're in Arizona and need a wedding photographer!