Wedding Terms For Couples

There’s a lot to consider when hiring a photographer for your wedding, and lots of them to choose from in Arizona! 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 comes the task of sifting through websites, reading reviews, comparing different wedding photography packages, and trying to understand what you get, and how much it’ll cost you.
I’ve put together a few wedding terms for couples 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.

Fees: Session vs. Coverage vs. Service Fee

Generally, a session fee is what you’ll pay for booking time with the photographer. What’s included varies by photographer, as sometimes this includes digital files of your images or printed 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 to photograph your wedding only, and you’ll have to purchase digital image files, prints, and photo albums a la carte.

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.  Most professional photographers will spend a lot of time after the wedding editing your images, which can include:
  • Culling bad/out of focus/blinking photos
  • Aesthetic retouching such as removing blemishes and softening skin
  • Applying their individual style
  • Adjusting the image including making colors pop, lightening or darkening areas of a photograph
  • 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.

Proof Photos

If you purchase products (such as albums or prints) the photographer will more than likely create a gallery (some may still send you a USB with images, although that has become less popular) as a way for you to see your 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 your photos on a USB or online gallery. In general, photographers will typically give you a rough amount of images per hour of coverage (for example, 600 images for a 6 hour wedding). Other photographers will provide you with however many photos they think it takes to tell the story of your special day, from start to finish. If a wedding photography package includes digital images, it might be more expensive to compensate for the photographer’s time spent editing your images.


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 terms refer to the file size of the digital images you receive. Some photographers will provide you with web-sized images, meaning that their smaller in size and optimized for sharing on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media accounts. However, these files will not print well. If your wedding photographer provides you with image files that are “high-res” or “suitable for printing”, it means those images are large enough in size for printing for albums or on larger formats such as metal prints and canvases. 
A couple of questions you can ask your photographer can include:
  • Do I get digital files?
  • Are they optimized for web or can they be printed?
  • Am I allowed to print the images myself or share them on my social media accounts?
  • If I do I have permission to print the photos, how large can I print them?

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 Gallery

This is a custom, private gallery for your wedding photos hosted by your photographer. You’ll be sent a personalized website address (URL) that will feature images from your wedding. 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 wedding terms for couples that you’ll see when researching photographers for your wedding. Send me a message if you have any questions, or, if you need a wedding photographer Phoenix, Arizona!

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