Glossary of Commercial Photography Terms

February 14, 2019
Planning for the 1st Quarter

They were all laughing, and I felt like I could have been the butt of their joke. 

It’s high school, and I was the kid that could hang out with any group. The Floater.

I liked it this way. I got along with everyone but at the same time, I wasn’t super close with any of these people. I just made surviving the cafeteria and the hall a whole lot easier. 

As the “goodie-two-shoes”, a phrase I’ve learned to embrace and accept but hated at the time, there was still so much in this world I hadn’t been exposed to. And sitting with the popular kids often meant I had no idea what they were talking about.

Words they would throw out that had never been a part of my vocabulary were used way too often, and while they sat back and laughed, I pretend to know what they were talking about. Feeling like an idiot because I really had no idea. 

This still happens from time to time, but now, at as an adult, I’m okay with speaking up and saying, “I have NO idea what that means, could you explain it?” Something I never would have done as a teenager in fear of judgment and looking stupid.

In high school survival means not looking like the weakest link, but as an adult, survival means learning. Educating yourself so you know more the next time. 

Commercial Photography Glossary of Words

I’m sure that as you start looking for a photographer you’ve come across quite a few words that you aren’t sure what they mean. Photography really does have a language of its own. I want to break down the language so you know exactly what you’re getting and what to look for when it comes to commercial photography for your brand.


Commercial Photography

Photos that tell a storyline for a brand which showcases their products and creates a vision of what life could be like for their customers.


Images that are sharp, with accurate coloring (especially when it comes to skin tones) and are large format so that you can use them anywhere. Usually, they need to be formatted smaller to use on your website so that you don’t run into speed issues. – Luckily all my commercial shoots come with print and digital sizing so you don’t have to worry about this.

Contact Sheet

A sheet of images in a grid format to look through and choose your favorite. The images are numbered so that you can just write down which numbers you want access too. 


Copyright on an image means that the images are still owned by the photographer and that the use of the images are laid out by the photographer before giving them to you. With my photos, the only limits you have is you can’t sell them (use them as prints of art to sell or put them on merchandise without my written consent) or claim them to be your own works of photography. Otherwise, you are free to use them in your business how you’d like. 


I have an entire post about commercial licensing you can look at but in quick terms, a limited-license on a photo is the agreement of where you can use the photo for a limited time. For example, you might purchase a photo to use in your newsletter and would pay a price based on how many people will see the image and how many times you plan to use it. If you want to use the image more than that, you have to pay for a new licensing on that image. Lucky for you, ALL my commercial photos are full commercial licensed. This means you pay once and can use the image wherever and whenever you want! I want your business to prosper without the fear of using a photo you aren’t supposed to. 

Digital Gallery

When you have chosen your images and they’re ready for you to use, I’ll send you an email with a link to a digital gallery. Here you’ll find all your images and can download them one at a time or all at once. They’ll be separated into a print group and digital group so that your photos are formatted for any use. 

Product Photos vs. Lifestyle photos

Product photos are photos only of your product in an environment that fits your brand (or with a white backdrop to be used on your website). These photos don’t include any models and are created to really highlight your product so that it is the focal point of the image. Lifestyle photos, on the other hand, are what show your customers what the future could hold. These images are the ones that really sell your products because they tell a story and connect with your customers on a deeper level. They almost always include a model but at the very least will have other props in the image to create a full story. 

Location or Model Scouting

No this has nothing to do with Girl Scout Cookies (although it should!) Scouting means finding the perfect location or models for your brand and storyline. After we discuss the story we want to tell with your brand and identify your ideal customers it’s my job to find the perfect backdrop of your story by scouting out locations. Then we’ll find the models that look like your ideal customer so that they really connect with your images. 

You should always feel confident when it comes to your marketing. 

I don’t ever want you to feel like you are out of your wits when it comes to photography or marketing. 

If there are words you don’t understand or questions you have about using photos in marketing, I’m always here to help. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook to get tips and tricks regularly or message me on any platform and ask you questions. I’m here to help you and your business grow. 

Your business is my business, which means I’m wishing you all the success and will assist in that however I can! 


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