Exposure : This is the measure of how much light is let into the camera as the photo is being taken. A photo that is more exposed is lighter, while a photo that is underexposed is too dark. The perfect photo has the correct exposure.

Focus : This relates to how in focus the subject of the photograph is. If the subject is in focus, it is sharp. If it’s out of focus, it will appear blurry. Sometimes, photographers choose to make some elements of a photo in focus and some out of focus for creative effect. You can talk with your photographer to determine the mood (and focus) of the photographs you want.

Composition : This refers to the way that the elements in the photograph are arranged. There are many compositional rules that your photographer may draw from to create a photograph that has a composition that will compliment the subject and draw in the viewer.

Depth of Field : Depth of field refers to the portion of the picture that is out of focus and in focus. A shallow depth of field means that the photo will only have the prominent elements in focus. A deep depth of field means that all or most of the composition will be in focus. For a corporate headshot, for instance, you will likely want a shallow depth of field so that only your face is highlighted.

Filters : These are tools used by professional photographers to affect the final image. These filters usually attach to the camera lens and can add color, create distortion, or create blur. Filters can be used for all kinds of photography. For a maternity boudoir photography session, for instance, you may want a filter to add dreaminess to the photoshoot.

Lens : The lens of the camera is the part that you’ll look into when you’re being photographed. Portrait photographers use a variety of lenses to capture their subjects.

Lens Flare : A lens flare is an effect that can be on a photo – either added manually or happening organically. It’s a spot of light that enhances the photo, adding an interesting and often evocative element. Different lenses are more or less prone to lens flares.

Light : This is the most basic element of photography. It’s the most important ‘ingredient.’ Whether you’re hiring a photographer for newborn family photos, maternity boudoir photography, or corporate headshots, having good light is key. A photographer can use natural light, occurring naturally from the sun, or can use artificial lighting.

Noise : Noise refers to a visual distortion in the image that is similar to grain. Often noise is not desired. However, noise can be intentional or unintentional and can serve various creative purposes.

Grain : The amount of grain in a photo is the degree to which you can see the individual pixel-like components of the image. A grainy image is spottier, while an image without grain looks smooth. In black and white photos, black elements will have lighter spots of grain while light elements will have darker spots.

RAW Files : RAW files are the files on the camera that contain all of the imaging data from the camera sensor and have the highest image quality. RAW images are edited by a professional to achieve the desired final effects.

Sharpness : Sharpness relates to focus. If an image is sharp, it’s in focus. If it’s not sharp, it’s out of focus.

Shutter Speed : Shutter speed is the time it takes for the shutter to click. A quicker shutter speed means that less light was let in and the image will be less prone to motion-related blur. A long shutter speed can allow a photo to capture more time and, thus, capture the movement that happens during the time the shutter is open.

Subject : This is the person or thing that is being photographed.

Viewfinder : This is the part of the camera that the photographer looks through to take the photo. What they see in the viewfinder is what will be in the final photograph.

Zoom Lens : This is a kind of lens that can allow the photographer to get in closer to the subject without moving closer. This can be useful in a variety of situations, especially if the subject is far away and can’t be moved closer.

Pixels : These are the smallest components of a digital photo. If a digital camera is not high resolution, pixels will be visible in the finished photograph. If the camera has a high resolution, pixels will not be visible, unless conditions are sub-optimal.

JPEG : This is a kind of file that photos are usually converted to for sharing purposes. When you receive your photos from a photoshoot, they may be in JPEG format.

Saturation : This relates to how strong the colors are in a photo. Strong colors are saturated, while faded colors are not saturated. The level of saturation can be determined in the editing process.

Thumbnails : These are small images that are like previews of the large, full size images. Thumbnails can often be clicked on and enlarged.

Vignette : This is an effect where the edges of the photo are darker than the rest.

White Balance : This refers to the coloration of the photo. It’s based on how the color white looks in the photograph. If it’s yellowish, the whole image will have a yellow cast. True images with a balanced white balance will have whites that look true. All the other colors will follow.

Shadows : When looking at an image, the shadows are the dark parts where light is blocked. The intensity of shadows can be determined by the lighting and placement of objects. Shadows can help inform the mood of a photograph.

Highlights : Highlights in a photograph are areas of brightness. Like shadows, they can be created or enhanced through the placement of a light source. The intensity of the highlights work to inform the mood of a photograph.