The Social Media Dictionary:
The Photography Edition

SMPerth // 30th March 2017

Digital marketers working in small businesses are required to know a little bit about a lot of things.

In creating graphics for websites and social media platforms we need to be able to talk the lingo with designers so that we get the results we want.

It also helps to have a basic understanding of tools like Photoshop and photo editing apps such as Canva, not to mention the myriad of tools on our smartphone cameras and social platforms like Instagram!

Below we’ve compiled a bunch of the most common photography terms that you should get acquainted with:


aperture: the size of the lens opening, it affects the amount of light allowed in and the focus

contrast: the range of tones from dark to light in an image, good contrast prevents images from appearing flat

exposure: how light or dark the image appears, it is determined by the amount of light that the lens allows into the image sensor or film

focus: the areas in an image that appear sharp (in focus) and those that appear blurred (out of focus)

histogram: a graph that represents the tonal range (black to white) of an image, providing important information about its exposure

shutter speed: how long the shutter stays open to allow light in to the camera and expose the film, to capture action in focus a fast shutter speed is required

white balance: this camera setting is important for so that whites appear white rather than blue or yellow


aspect ratio: the width to height ratio of a screen or image

depth of field: the range of distance of the image that appears in focus

panorama: horizontally elongated photo format often used for landscapes

rule of thirds: to draw interest, the subject of the photo is aligned with the intersection of imaginary horizontal and vertical grid lines that divide the image into nine equal parts

File types

jpeg: compressed image format, best for images with gradients (joint photographic experts group)

gif: lossless image format that compresses animated and static files (graphics interchange format)

RAW: the digital camera image files that are unprocessed, tend to be large

psd: extension used on photoshop formatted files

png: portable network graphics support transparency and are good to use on the web

pdf: used to send things that are to be printed (portable document format)

Design terms

CMYK: this is an acronym for the colours used in printing – cyan, magenta, yellow, key (black)

RGB: these are the colours used in digital – red, green, blue

resolution: images are measured by the number of dots or pixels per inch (dpi/ppi)

web safe colours: the palette of 216 colours that display as continuous flat colours on digital screens

hex colours: each colour on the web is represented by a six digital hexadecimal number preceded by (#)

gradient: the gradual blending of colours in an image


bokeh: soft, out of focus blur in a photo that is created by the lens and used for aesthetic appeal

HDR: 3 different exposures are taken and merged into one photo to give a greater dynamic range (high dynamic range)

lomo: popular image effect of high contrast, soft focus and vignettes that emulate the ‘pop’ photos of lomography cameras (cheap Russian toy camera e.g Holga)

tilt-shift: selective focus that alters the perspective of an image and has the effect of making a scene look miniature

time-lapse: a sequence of images taken over a long period of time that are put together to show the passing of time

sepia: a brownish tone used to create a vintage effect, originally it was used in the processing of black and white photos

vignette: the outer edges of an image are darkened, while the centre remains bright to form a frame


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