But what does that mean?

Published by Claire Gould on

A brilliant guest blog by Essex wedding photographer Ross Willsher Photography

Are you drowning in wedding overwhelm? In a spin from social media inspiration? Overloaded with wedding terminology? Fear not! Help is at hand. In this article we’re going to look at some wedding photography jargon and break down what photographers actually mean when they use certain words and phrases.

So, take a deep breath, get comfy and for the next 10 minutes, take some time to untangle that busy mind.

Whilst us professionals enjoy the wonderful world of weddings day in, day out, it is probably your first time planning such a milestone event and for that reason please remember one thing – it’s OK to not know everything, or indeed anything!

As a wedding photographer, I always tell my couples that no question is too silly or stupid and to always feel comfortable seeking clarity or double checking a piece of information. So here is my first tip – book suppliers who make you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing your insecurities and concerns.

Right. On to wedding photography jargon.


So many people compliment me on how natural my images look. It’s lovely thing to receive praise for and I always seek to capture genuine smiles and dynamics in my couples. However, natural looking images do not mean that the photographer has not taken time to set up the photograph in one or more ways; whether that’s lighting, posing, directing etc.

Pure reportage photography (also referred to as documentary or photojournalism) involves no intervention from the photographer whatsoever. This approach simply documents events as they naturally occur. I do a lot of this photography throughout the day, but I do direct and curate certain shots when necessary; group photos and couple portraits in particular.

Many couples who do not like being photographed, tend to lean towards reportage photography for their day which is understandable as they feel awkward ‘performing’ in front of a camera. My only advice to you if you do not love how you look on camera, is to remember that with reportage photography, there will be no input to flatter curvier figures, hide double chins and emphasise your best bits. So, if you gurn when you laugh, or your posture is poor when you stand and chat with guests, this is what will be seen is all your photos. It is possible (and advisable) to incorporate some shots where the photographer can help you look your absolute best and direct you a little, in addition all those candid captures.


When we talk about ambient light, we are referring to any light in the shot that has not been added by the photographer or their team. Along with sunlight, ambient light can include light that comes from lightbulbs, streetlamps, and other artificial light sources.
If a photographer advertises themselves as a ‘natural light’ photographer, it means they do not use additional lighting in their work. There are some incredible natural light photographers but if your venue is quite dark or has tricky lighting, do check how they plan to work with this to ensure high quality images under these conditions.
There are many additional pieces of equipment photographers use to add light, but the most common one is known as a speedlite or flash. We often talk about whether the flash is on camera or off camera, and there will be many reasons a photographer will use their flash on their camera or on a stand away from their camera. Using a flash is a fantastic way of getting creative, and if you love those atmospheric night shots of couples, the chances are one or more flashes were used off camera to create these.


All professional photographers edit their images following a shoot. How much editing is done varies greatly from one photographer to the next. Always check what’s included in editing – sometimes it’s simply colour correction and enhancing what’s been shot, other times it’s removing blemishes and objects in the background.

Whilst not every photographer uses Photoshop to edit their images, the term ‘photoshopping’ has become synonymous with heavy editing and manipulating. You will how your own opinions on how much you want to be photoshopped in your wedding images.

You have probably used a filter on your phone and / or when uploading to social media. It’s a way of creating a certain look or feel with the click of a button. Many photographers use filters to give their images a consistent and distinctive look. Like many things in the wedding industry, some filters become particularly fashionable for a period before losing their appeal. Do think hard about hiring a photographer who utilises very distinctive filters as you want to make sure you still like the look of the images in a few years’ time when that style is less in vogue.

I hope that helps you understand some of the terms bounced around by us photographers, but before I go, here are some wedding photographer clichés that you may hear over and over and what they actually allude to.

‘TELLING THE STORY OF YOUR DAY’ – all wedding photographers worth their salt should be telling the story of your day (i.e. capturing all of the moments and details that matter), but many still market themselves as if this cliché puts them head and shoulders above everyone else. Focus instead on finding photographers that get to know you as individuals and create photos that resonate with you.

‘CREATIVE’ – you will also see lots of wedding photographers needlessly describing themselves as creative, when their portfolio will do the talking with regards to showcasing their creativity levels. If you think someone’s work is dull or boring, you’re not going to change your mind just because they’ve described themselves as ‘creative’ are you? You don’t need to be an expert in photography and / or art to identify what you do and do not like and whose portfolio impresses you. Trust your judgement.

‘DOG / CAT / COFFEE LOVER’ – This caused a little controversy when I posted about this on my social media, but if a wedding photographer’s social media bio or ‘About Me’ page is simply them describing how they are a coffee-lover or pet-owner, they perhaps aren’t looking to connect or get to know you on a deeper level. If that’s absolutely fine by you, and your main requisite is having a favourite animal or drink in common – fantastic. If you need a little more insight, look for wedding photographers whose bio says more about how they can help you feel good.

So there you have it! I hope you feel a little more clued up and ready to find your dream wedding photographer. There are lots of fab photographers out there so take your time and trust that the perfect fit is sat waiting for your email to pop into their inbox.

Happy wedding planning.

Ross Willsher Photography Essex logo


Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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