Photography Glossary

Below is a list of some of the most frequently used photography terms to help you understand your wedding photographs and the Premier Photography process.


The opening in a lens through which light passes. A narrow aperture will create an image in which both foreground and background appear to be in focus. A wide aperture will create an image in which either the foreground or background is in focus, while the other appears blurry. Photographers often selectively focus on a subject (for example, the bride) by using a wide aperture to draw attention to them and blurring the background.


A technology that lets the camera automatically focus on a point in the scene. Autofocus is especially useful in capturing split-second moment where the photographer does not have much time to manually focus on the subject.

depth of field

The portion of the scene, expressed as a measurement of distance, which appears to be in focus. Photographers will increase the depth of field when they want both the foreground and background to be in focus. Or they may decrease the depth of field when they want only their subject, usually in the foreground, to be in focus while the rest of the image appears blurry.


Abbreviation for Digital Single Lens Reflex. A DSLR is a camera which is comprised of a single lens (to focus light), a mirror (to reflect the image) and a digital sensor (to record the image). DSLRs are characterized by their lighting quick autofocus system, their large sensors and the large variety of lenses they can use.


The amount of light from a scene captured by the camera. If an image is underexposed, it will be dark and difficult to discern details. If an image is overexposed, its brightest parts will have their colour information lost (for example, a yellow flower will be captured as white). Modern cameras have an auto-exposure system that compute what the exposure of a scene should be. However, this system works only in ideal conditions. A good photographer must know how to control the exposure during non-ideal conditions.


The parts of the image that are brighter than the rest. The photographer often intentionally makes the subject brighter to draw the viewer's attention to the subject. Sometimes, objects are captured in the shadows (darker) due to a limitation of the scene. In this case, the image editor may choose to increase the brightness of the shadows during editing.

image stabilization

A mechanism in some cameras that counteracts the effects of shaky hands which would otherwise make images look blurry. Image stabilization is particularly important when using lenses that greatly magnify the subject.


In photography, the ISO value determines the degree to which an image's exposure is increased through digital amplification. The lower the ISO value, the less the digital amplification is applied and the less the image quality is degraded. The higher the ISO value, the more digital amplification is applied and the more the image quality is degraded. Higher ISO values are used in very low light environments like churches and banquet halls. Professional cameras are especially engineered to create high-quality images even when set to high ISO values.


Abbreviation for Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPEG is an image file that is greatly reduced in size from the original captured image. The image quality of a JPEG file is slightly reduced from the original, yet the file size can be reduced to 10% or more. Final images are delivered to clients in JPEG file format.

memory card

A small electronic device in which a camera stores images. Memory cards are defined by their speed and capacity. Professional photographers often use large memory cards that can hold thousands of images. More advanced cameras are capable of saving images to two memory cards simultaneously, a feature critical for wedding photography.


Degradation in an image where some pixels do not accurately reflect the scene that was captured. For example, some pixels may be darker or brighter than they should be. Others may be captured as blue when they should have been red. Noise is usually caused by the limitations of camera technology.


An abbreviation of the phrase picture element. A pixel is the smallest individual element in an array that makes up a digital image or a camera's sensor. The total number of pixels is expressed in millions (for example, 12 million pixels or 12 Megapixels).

prime lens

A lens which has a fixed magnification and angle of view. Prime lenses are generally smaller and produce a better quality image than zoom lenses. Prime lenses tend to have a larger maximum aperture than zoom lenses, allowing for more shallow depth of field.

RAW file

The original image as captured by the camera containing the complete record of colour and brightness. During the image editing process, a RAW file will have corrections and enhancements applied to improve the final image. RAW files are then converted to JPEG files for viewing.


The horizontal number and vertical number of pixels that make up a camera's sensor. A typical professional camera has a resolution of 6000 (horizontal) by 4000 (vertical). Multiplying the horizontal and vertical values will give the total number of megapixels (for example, 6000 x 4000 = 24 000 000 or 24 Megapixels). Generally, the higher the resolution of a camera, the greater the amount of detail that it can record from the scene.


The parts of the image that are darker than the rest. The photographer often intentionally leaves the background darker while illuminating the subject more to draw the viewer's attention to the subject. Sometimes, objects are captured in the shadows (darker) due to a limitation of the scene. In this case, the image editor may choose to increase the brightness of the shadows during editing.


The part of a camera that, when open, allows light to pass through to the sensor and record an image of the scene.

shutter speed

The length of time that a camera's sensor is exposed to light from the scene. The longer the shutter speed, the more light that will be captured. The shorter the shutter speed, the less light that will be captured. The shutter speed also determines whether a moving subject will appear sharp or with motion blur.


The gradual darkening of an image toward the corners. All images contain vignetting to some degree due to the optics of lenses. Vignetting can be removed during image editing, or it can be increased in order to bring the viewer's attention to the centre of the image.


An image or symbol that is added to a digital image in order to protect the copyright of that image.

white balance

A correction applied to an image with a tinted light source, either at the moment of capture or later during the image editing process. This correction is done by selecting a spot in the scene that the photographer knows to be white, which is then used as a standard which the camera uses to determine what colour tint to remove. This is an important step to ensuring that colours in an image look natural.

zoom lens

A lens which allows a photographer to change the image magnification and angle of view, usually by twisting a ring on the lens. A zoom lens is very useful when a photographer has limited time and/or space, such as at a wedding ceremony, and must switch from a wide view to a close-up view in a split second. See also prime lens in this glossary.