Wedding Photography Terms and Definitions

There's so much to get your head around when you're planning a wedding.  You've got suppliers, dates, colour schemes plus all the new wedding photography terms that each wedding supplier (or 'vendor'!) starts talking to you in!  Read on to make sense of all the wedding photography terms and jargon that Wedding Photographers use.  It's like a whole new language - but don't worry, we've got you covered! (Just a note: the terms 'photoshoot', 'shoot' 'photo session' and 'session' all mean the same thing and are used interchangeably here).


List of Wedding Photography Terms & Definitions

Boudoir Shoot

This photo session usually happens a couple of months prior to your wedding day and it can be just for the Bride to be or her partner can be involved too.  A Boudoir Shoot can be as sexy as you like, it's really up to you.  You can be photographed in your wedding lingerie, a satin nightgown or veil.  Or you could be sexy in a more understated way, how about wearing your partners oversized shirt with nothing but undies underneath?  You can incorporate his favourite football shirt and wear just that.  Or be sensual and sexy in a long backless lacy gown?  The choice is yours.  These photographs are meant for you and your partner to love and cherish forever.

Bridal Shoot

Also sometimes called a Bridal Portrait, you'll get fully dressed in your wedding attire and have your pictures taken.  This can be done before or after your wedding day.  The idea here is to free up more time on your wedding day for you to spend enjoying yourselves and have your formal portraits (or creative portraits) taken separately.


You'll hear this term A LOT from photographers!  It's one that we just assume everyone knows what it means but actually most people don't - sorry!  Candid photography or taking 'candids' is a wedding photography term for capturing those beautiful natural photographs that everyone loves!  Your Mum's face as she watches you walk down the aisle, your bridesmaids laughing together at the reception party, a special hug between guests or a glance between you and your partner during the ceremony.

Collection / Package

This simply refers to everything that's included in your contract with your photographer.  It lists everything that he or she will provide for you and what you are paying for.


While we're on the subject of contracts, let me briefly explain what it is and why you need one.  Firstly, your contract covers everything listed in your photography collection (see above) and what you have or will pay for those products & services.  Secondly and most importantly, your contract covers both you and your photographer should anything happen on the wedding day. eg if you have to postpone or cancel the wedding; if your photographer doesn't turn up (that makes me cringe just writing it!) or doesn't provide what was agreed.  It lists all the wedding photography terms and conditions in detail.  In short = you must have a wedding photography contract, no exceptions.


You probably assume you get the copyright to your wedding photographs but that's not usually the case.  Without getting too technical here, copyright isn't usually given (and most photographers who use the term 'copyright' aren't full time, experienced, professionals and are simply using the wrong wording - which is just confusing!  What you should get with your wedding photography, is a 'digital or print release' for any digital files that come with your wedding photography collection.  So what is copyright exactly? “Copyright” describes the rights given to creators for their literary and artistic works.  If your photographer works for a company, the copyright usually belongs to the company who employs the photographer.  Most wedding photographers run their own business, so the copyright belongs to them. You can read more about Photography Copyright here.

Day of Slideshows

This is becoming ever more popular!  Day of Slideshows are put together by your photographer on the wedding day and usually shown at your reception.  We love to have the Bride & Groom in the centre and all their friends and family around them while we play a short Wedding Slideshow (another way to say Day of Slideshow).  It's amazing to watch the excited and emotional response from the Newlyweds and their guests!

Digital Files / Digital Negatives / Images on a Disc

First off, if anyone gives you images on a disc, they need to move in to the 21st century!!  One of the first thing you'll be thinking about when you're planning you're planning your wedding is if you want the digital files of your wedding photographs.  I go into that more in next weeks post (the pro's and con's of this - yes there are con's!!) so I wont talk about that just now.  But you will need to decide if you want the digital copies too.  This information should be listed in your wedding photography terms and conditions in your contract.

Editing / Processing

Professional photographers always edit their images.  This is where their creativity and vision of your wedding comes in to play for a second time (the first is how they see the image before they capture it on your wedding day).  Think of it like baking a cake.  The Raw files are the cake batter, the editing is the baking & icing on top!

Engagement Shoot

Another really popular photo session that has come over from the States!  An Engagement Shoot (also sometimes called a pre-wedding shoot) is a great way to get to know your wedding photographer, see how they work and it gives you an idea of what you're wedding photographs will be like.  You'll have the opportunity to voice any concerns you have before the big day and it's the perfect way to announce your Engagement or use the photographs for your Save the Dates or Invitations.  You can see loads more ideas for how to use your Engagement photos here or ideas for your shoot here.

First Look

This is a set of photographs that are captured just before your ceremony begins.  Your photographer will take you to a quiet area, away from your guests and is an amazing and emotional moment between just the two of you.  You'll see each other for the first time on your wedding day away from the hundreds of eyes on you and really get to appreciate the moment, just for you.  If you choose to, you can also ask your photographer to ask your bridal party or immediate family to come and join you a few minutes later and have a full set of photographs taken.  This frees up time after the ceremony for you to mingle with your guests!

Photo Booths

Variations of the photo booth have been popular for the past 5 years or so.  You could have a standalone booth or your photographer may provide a backdrop for you and take the photos themselves.  Either way, there will be lots of props to have fun with and it's a great form of entertainment for all ages!

RAW Files

You may have heard the term Raw files when it comes to photography.  A Raw file is the file format that an image is taken in, kind of like you get .doc files in Microsoft Word.  The Raw file is everything that the camera sensor sees.  Raw files are used by the majority of professional photographers as it's considered to be the best form of an image file.  A Raw file is exactly that - raw - it's unprocessed leaving the creativity of processing up to the photographer.  Raw files are then processed and edited and converted to Jpeg's to be delivered to clients.


Another common wedding photography term is 'resolution' and 'high or low res' images.  It's a bit technical, but I promise I'll keep it as simple as possible.  Resolution is measured in megapixels.  To put it simply, the more megapixels, the higher the resolution.  The higher the resolution the better the quality of the image.

Resolution - High Res

A high res image (high resolution) is an image of 300 dpi or above. (dpi means dots per inch and can also be called ppi - pixels per inch).  A high resolution is used for printing photographs.

Resolution - Low Res

A low res images is usually around 72 dpi.  This is perfect for viewing photos on a computer screen, social media or sharing via email.

Secret Read

If you don't want to see each other before the wedding ceremony but want to do something special & a little different, a Secret Read is the perfect alternative!  At Notton House Photography, we created the Secret Read as some clients (or their families) are a bit more traditional and the idea of actually seeing their intended before the ceremony wasn't for them.

At a Secret Read, you get to spend some time with your partner at a quiet location away from prying eyes and enjoy a moment just for the two of you.  It calms your nerves and couples love to read a special poems, or a pre-written letter to the other.  You don't see each other at all.  Depending on the location you'll be standing back to back, or on either side of a beautiful wall or door - you may even get to hold hands! Again the moment is photographed and we've been told by our Brides & Grooms that it was one of their favourite parts of their wedding day!

Shot List / Photo List

This is probably one of the more common wedding photography terms you'll hear.  You're photographer will usually provide you with a shot list or ask if there are any photographs you really want to have taken on your wedding day.  Things to mention here are heirloom items, fun or quirky decor as well as special guests who may have travelled far to be with you and you'd like to have a special photograph just with them.  We like to ask for names of the Bridal Party & Immediate Family so we know who everyone is on the big day.

Shooting Digital

This is the most popular way to photograph weddings in the 21st century.  Shooting digitally has many huge benefits and one major advantage for you is time - we love to provide sneak peeks of your wedding the day of the wedding or the day after!  Digital cameras are also hugely technically advanced to film cameras (obviously!) and can shoot in very low light (provided of course you hire a professional who know his / her tools!)

Shooting Film

Film is your other option if you don't want your wedding photographer to shoot on a digital camera.  Images shot with film have a softer, more organic quality to them and there are not as many photographers out there who shoot with film anymore for several reasons, which I wont go in to here.  If film is an absolute must-have for you, then this is the very first thing you need to ask your photographer about.  Note that you can also get a digital photographer who can edit your images to reproduce a similar look to film.


There are many different styles of wedding photography (and photography in general) and no two photographers are exactly the same - even if they have the same 'style'.  The 5 main styles are:

  1. Classic / Traditional Wedding Photographer
  2. Artistic Wedding Photographer
  3. Lifestyle Wedding Photographer
  4. Dramatic Wedding Photographer
  5. Documentary / Photo-journalistic / Reportage Wedding Photographer

If that is just as confusing, don't worry, I've provided more detail for each style in this post!

Wedding Slideshows

See 'Day of Slideshows' above as these wedding photography terms are the same thing!

Wedding Website

A wedding website is a way to bring together all your wedding plans, guests, information and photographs in one place.  You can post details of the wedding day, hotel and travel recommendations, gifts lists and much more!  Check out the fabulous wedding websites we include in our Gold Label Wedding Photography Collection!

Now that's a lot of wedding photography terms!  If you're still up for more, check out this post from Bride vs Groom!