Boyd Visuals

Basic Photography Terminology Part 1

Having problems understanding the terminology thrown around when organising photoshoots? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Sit back, grab your hot drink and in five minutes you shall be enlightened.  

Photography terminology is highly essential when it comes to landing a job, organising shoots, and working with brands and projects that require skilled creators in various sectors. Speaking the language can be reassuring for clients, so I detailed a few fundamental phrases that will help you communicate the lingo with confidence. 

Test shoot/Trade

A test shoot or trade is all about improving your portfolio! The idea is to collaborate with other creatives like; models, makeup artists, hairstylist… Etc! These shoots are based on mutual grounds for the purpose of portfolio building and experience. Test shoots are usually unpaid. I tend to shoot a fair amount of test shoots when I’m looking to experiment or test an idea. 


Test/trade for photos. I remembered when I first heard this acronym, I was like,” what on earth are you talking about?” Don’t worry; it’s a simple term to agree on a test/trade services in exchange for photos. 


Is a digital or printed image in a publication. A tearsheet is usually exchanged for work that can be used in the photographer’s portfolio. Vogue, for example, in exchange for your service could provide a tearsheet that you could use in your portfolio. 

Mood Board:

A mood board is simply a collection of images that express the aspired look and inspiration for the photoshoot. A mood board is beneficial for the creative team and helps convey the photographer’s vision. 

Commission Letter/Email:

Commission letter/email is confirmation from a client verifying that you have been hired to shoot for that publication/job. This is helpful for the photographer to prepare the entire team for the shoot. 

New Faces/Developing Models:

Modelling agencies are always hiring new faces. These are models that may not have a lot of experience or are developing their portfolio. On occasions, you may be lucky to work with an experienced model looking to update their collection of images because they may have changed their look. My advice is to look out for models that will fit your vision and style.


I’ve heard a few variations over my time as a photographer, the most common is Clean-Clean. What this means is, on a shoot, a model must arrive without makeup and products in their hair. 

Hair and Makeup Ready: 

As the above suggests, the model is required to come to the shoot with their hair and makeup applied. 

Call Sheet:

A call sheet contains the details of the shoot! It will provide all the information needed for the creative team. It should include; call times, the team list, contact information, schedule and any other relevant information. Your call sheet should be sent in advance so all participants can prepare in advance ahead of the shoot. 

Call Times:

Simple means, the time each member of the creative team should arrive on the day of the shoot. 


Most people are familiar with this term as it’s prevalent on social media at the moment. It means, ‘Behind the Scene photos and/or videos. 

I hope the above gives you a clear understanding of the basic terminology. In a few weeks, we shall cover more advance terminology recognition to help you when dealing with experienced clients. 

How helpful was this for you? Have you experienced these photo jargons before? Leave your comments and feedback below.