Love to Know | Photographese

Hey, everyone! I am excited to bring you the first post in our Love to Know blog series. Even though the internet provides an easy insider look at just about any industry you can imagine—including photography!—our clients and friends still have plenty of questions. This is great, because we have plenty of answers!

I should say right off the bat that there are some topics this series won’t address, common questions or concerns that have been handled well—and frequently—elsewhere. This list includes topics like What to Wear for Your Engagement Session, Top 25 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer, Why Photographers Charge So Much (PetaPixel’s post on this is my favorite), and Why Have a First Look (addressed perfectly by both Katelyn James and my good friend Alex at Alexandra Whitney Photography). Although these are useful topics to discuss, I’d do no one any good by adding to the considerable noise. 

I’d rather talk about things I don’t see often or at all, and I’d much rather this series focus on subjects either that weigh on my heart and mind, or about which I think our friends and clients would love to know—hence, the series title. So! If there’s anything you’d absolutely Love to Know, questions, concerns, food for thought, contact me anytime using the “Contact Us” link above, or leave a comment.

Now that all that is out of the way, on to our first Love to Know post! Yay!

We all have a habit of living too much inside our own heads. It can mean a weird non sequitur, a baffling abbreviation on a grocery list, or perplexing industry jargon dropped into casual conversation. Photographers are no exception: We tend to forget that normal folks don’t get excited about fast glass, irritated at legions of shoot-and-burners, or stressed about shooting during golden hour.

Thus I thought I’d use our first post to shed some light on terms we toss around as if they were status quo, but the meaning of which most people can only guess—our Photographese, if you will. Many of these happen industry-wide, but a few are MKM-specific; so, if you’ve ever wondered…

“What does Kate mean when she says…?” are some answers for you (in alphabetical order, obviously):

~ At-home session—A session that takes place in the subject’s home. Consider having your session at home if: it’s your favorite place in the world, you have small children, you just moved and want to document your cool new digs.

~ Bridal session—A bridal session allows a bride to don her gown and enjoy being fancy in it! Bridal portraits are especially popular here in the South. Many brides will use their bridals as a hair and makeup (and sometimes undergarment!) trial run before the wedding day.

Chimping—Checking the back of the camera to see how the photos look. We do this to make sure our settings match our environment, or to ensure we nailed a shot, but we rarely let our clients chimp during a session. Why not? Simple: We want you to be relaxed and comfy, and chimping risks you getting self-conscious and thus overcompensating! Exception: If I sense that a subject is self-conscious or uncomfortable already, I may let them chimp an image just so they know how awesome they’re doing.

Couple’s session—Seems self-explanatory, I know, but what I mean by this is the time on a wedding day when we sequester the newlyweds (or soon-to-be-weds!) for portraits of the two of them alone. Not to be biased (but to be totally biased…), but it’s my favorite part of a wedding-day timeline.

Engagement session—Portraits of an engaged couple before they’re married! Also known as an engagement sesh, e-session, or e-sesh. We love engagement sessions! Not only do you get even more photos of your adorable faces, but you get to practice in front of the camera, learn a bit about our directing style, and develop your relationship with us, while we get practice photographing you, all the while learning more about you. If it’s on offer, don’t skip your engagement session!

First Look—A special block of time before the ceremony during which a couple sees each other for the first time on their wedding day. For more on why photographers adore First Looks, see the above-mentioned posts by Katelyn James and Alexandra Whitney.

Formals—Also called family formals, this is the segment on a wedding day when we take portraits of the couple with family members: parents, siblings, grandparents, et al. Formals usually happen after the ceremony, but if you want to get to your party (and heck, who doesn’t?!), schedule time for formals before the wedding, as part of your First Look. Easy-peasy!

Glass—Photographer slang for “lens.” Photographers brag about new glass like high school kids brag about their cars: how fast it is, how pretty, the noises it makes, what size sub-woofers we can fit in the trunk… (Maybe just kidding on that last one.)

Golden hour—One to two hours before sunset. If you ever hear me mention “delicious” or “yummy” light, it happened during golden hour. Photographers love shooting during golden hour for lots of reasons: the angle of the sun eliminates harsh shadows, the “golden” color makes everyone’s skin look glowy and perfect, pretty twilight skies, light diffusing through the atmosphere, etc. (There’s also an a.m. golden hour, but it’s verboten with yours truly, who regularly stays up until 3:00 a.m. editing.)

Lifestyle session—A session that shows how the subjects act and interact in their everyday lives. Any session can be a lifestyle session: Think of an activity you often do as a family or a couple or a place you frequently go and plan your session around that. Lifestyle sessions are unposed, undirected, loose and meandering—we love them for their ability to tell a true story about someone’s life.

Love session—A photography session for a couple, for any old reason. Remember when I said earlier that the term “couple’s session” seemed self-explanatory? I bet this is what you thought it explained. Document an anniversary, a new home, or just hanging out with your honey. If you’re in love, a love session is for you.

Love the Dress session—Also known as Trash the Dress, this is similar to a bridal session, but decidedly less formal. Many brides shy away from the idea of “trashing” their wedding dress—and understandably so! Love the Dress is an opportunity to have some fun in your wedding dress, whether before or after the wedding. There’s nothing like an excuse to wear the most expensive garment you’ll ever own!

Natural light—The light of the Great Outdoors via the sun. Natural light is the opposite of artificial light—ambient light in a room, light from on- or off-camera flashes, or the fluorescent lights in an office building. In other words, you can have an outdoor session without relying solely on natural light, but you can’t have a natural light session without being outdoors.

Newlywed session—The synthesis of a love session and a Love the Dress session: a newly married couple decked out in their wedding finery sometime after the wedding. Want to keep photo time to a minimum on your wedding day, but still want all those gorgeous and intimate portraits? Schedule a newlywed session!

Post-processing—All the editing. Post-processing encompasses color-correction, light balancing, contrast tweaking—any change we make between taking the photo and delivering it to you. Also commonly heard: “I’ll fix it in post.” If there’s a fire hydrant we failed to notice in an otherwise perfect shot, a stick coming out of someone’s head, or (gasp!) a stain on the bride’s dress: NBD, we’ll fix it in post.

Second shooter—Just what it sounds like: A second photographer taking photos on your wedding day. Using a second shooter is more common in one-person photography operations; in MKM’s case, Mike and I are each other’s second shooters (or, more accurately, we’re both primary shooters). However, on the rare occasion that Mike is unable to photograph a wedding, I will use a second shooter.

Shoot and burn—When a photographer burns the images to a CD straight out of camera (or OOC, for jargon bonus points) without post-processing them. This is usually an attempt to undercut competition on costs. It invokes the adage, “You get what you pay for.” Avoid shoot-and-burners—hire photographers (like us! hey-o!) who are particular about how their images look because they want you to have a quality product.

Uncle Bob—Any wedding guest who impedes a photographer’s shot in order to get a photograph of their own. (Note to my own Uncle Bob: This is an industry-wide joke—not based on you, I promise!) Your 14-year-old cousin holding her iPad into the aisle as the bride makes her entrance is an Uncle Bob. Your college buddy popping his point-and-shoot camera’s flash in the couple’s faces during their first dance is an Uncle Bob. Your actual Uncle Bob who makes an adorable toast about your adolescent love of Pokémon? He was hilarious, but he’s not an Uncle Bob.

Wedding party—Everyone you chose to stand up with you on this most special of days. Commonly known as bridesmaids and groomsmen, or bridesmen and groomsladies, or bridespirates and groomsswashbucklers (hey, no judgment), these ladies and gents are closest to your hearts. Wedding parties occasionally include the child attendants (flower girls, ring bearers, babies in wagons…). Folks who aren’t considered members of the wedding party: The officiant (person performing your ceremony), readers from your ceremony, altar children, county clerks, your florist, random bystanders, or your mom (unless she’s your Matron of Honor!).

And that’s the end of my show!

Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Any other photography terms you'd love to know?

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