After being asked this exact phrased question for the third time this week, here I am, writing this post. As a professional photographer sometimes it's easy to forget that our clients and people outside our circle don't have the same knowledge that we do. They don't always "get" this stuff. Most people are thinking, "lady, I just want to print 5x7's for my grandma" but they've been tricked into thinking that getting the rights to the photographs is an elusive trickery plot composed by professional photographers to get more money and stir up more frustration. So let's chat y'all.
There are two types of "rights" in the photography word:
the copyright (one word) and the printing rights (two words)
You want the printing rights, ladies and gents.
The "copyright" to any given photograph is created the minute we press the button. It's the integrity and knowledge we use to create our piece of art. It's the process of creating the art. And it gives us the title of "supreme artist" once we finally do create the art (pretty sure you get a plaque in the mail. Just kidding. Kind of.). It's what allows us to sue people for "copyright infringement" when they do bad things like steal our art off of our websites and social media and claim it as their own. Remember when you were younger and they'd tell you not to rip music offline? It's the same legalities (mostly, essentially).
But none of that applies to you. You want to print 5x7's for grandma, remember?
It's the "printing rights" that allow you to do that. Most print releases from photographers allow you to print your photographs through anybody at any time, meaning you can print as many 5x7's for grandma as your wallet will allow. Now, not every photographer offers these - but many do, especially with their wedding photographs.
So there you have it! I hope I've been able to clear up a point of confusion for you. If you have any additional questions, just send me a message and I'd be happy to chat.