Glossary of terms used by photographers

If you are someone from outside of the photography world, it can often seem like photographers talk a different language. Whether you want to book a portrait shoot, start learning how to take photographs professionally yourself, or become a model, there are some phrases that you may come across which you may not understand. I’ve often been asked what an MUA is, for example! Here are some of the top phrases photographers may use, and what they mean.

Above: A tear sheet

Analogue: Of or relating to film cameras. Book: See port. This is more of an American term.

Call Sheet: A document listing the details of a confirmed shoot, eg timings, pay, the team members involved, and so on. It can be used in some instances as proof of you being a professional when applying to agencies, industry discounts, or guilds.

Casting call: A listing which tells you of an upcoming job and the requirements for it. If you apply to a casting you may be chosen based on your portfolio, or asked to attend a casting, which is the modelling version of an audition.

Cuttings: See Tear Sheet.

Double or multiple exposure: The art of layering more than one image on top of each other to create a unique look.

Exposure: The amount of light allowed to enter the lens while creating an image; or, an image itself, normally used to refer to printed analogue images.

Go See/Go and see: Essentially an audition. Normally you would take a portfolio, and may be required to demonstrate your walk if for a catwalk show.

Headshot: An image taken of the head, head and neck, or head and shoulders. Used by agencies or casting directors to choose actors and models for projects.

Levels: The level of nudity that you would work to. No nudity means none whatsoever; implied means that you will be naked, but normally with careful placing of your arms and legs or props so that nothing “important” can be seen; and of course, nude means just that. Always discuss levels before a shoot if you are not sure or have limits.

Model Release Form: A legal document stating that you allow the photographs to be taken of you, and agreeing as to their usage. Always read this through fully before signing.

MUA: Make up artist.

New Face: Someone who is new to modelling, or to an agency, or to a particular type of modelling. Someone who has just done their first year at London Fashion Week might be a new face, for example, even if they have been doing editorial a bit longer.

On Location: At the place where you are shooting. Usually taken to mean outdoors as opposed to a studio, but it could also denote a hired building.

Port: Portfolio. This is a collection of images used by a model, MUA, photographer, stylist, or etc to showcase their previous work. For professional work, a portfolio must be seen before the job is offered to you.

RAW: A type of image produced by a DSLR which contains the most information possible for that camera. Normally converted into another image type such as JPEG or TIFF for editing, use, and printing.

Stock: Stock photography is sold usually to the highest bidder with either exclusive or non-exclusive rights. Make sure that you are being paid upfront or that you receive a share of earnings in this type of shoot, as stock photography is sold for profit.

Stylist: Usually wardrobe stylist, someone who looks after the clothes and puts looks together. However, it may in some circumstances refer to a hair stylist, make up artist, or even someone with creative control over the shoot.

Tear Sheet: An image or page taken from a magazine which showcases your published work. From printed publications, where you would “tear out” the page and use it in your portfolio.

Test Shoot: A shoot where something is being tested - usually a concept or the model themselves. This is almost always unpaid, though you may receive images for your portfolio.

TFP: Time For Print. Basically means working for images - prints may not be included in modern shoots, digital images are far more common. Typically, a TFP shoot features no pay from or to anyone involved, and any profit should be shared equally.

Using Format