The copyright is owned by the photographer that creates the work. From the second I snap an image, it legally belongs to me as the photographer, or “author”, unless I sign off to sell or give the rights away. A copyright essentially gives me the exclusive rights to determine how the image should be displayed and distributed. I am also the only person who can make alterations to my work. Since my name is associated with the images, I want to have complete control of how they look to ensure they are in line with my photography style that you are hiring me for! Images covered in filters or bad crops can grossly misrepresent my brand. I don't sell the copyright however I will sell usage/licensing for images.
A print release is different in that it gives the client permission to reproduce or print my images for their own personal use. Personal use is the key term here. If a client wants to make prints, canvases, albums, t-shirts, etc, they are more than welcome to do that for themselves and their entire family when I provide a print release which the client receives with my digital images. Clients are, however, prohibited from using them for commercial reasons. For example, if you were approached by the Editor of Vanity Fair (we can all dream right?) because they wanted to buy your brand new picture for the cover of their next edition, you would have to decline as they are not yours to sell.
In short, with a print release:
+ Post them on all forms of social media.
+ Print an unlimited amount of them in any form (photo, canvas, album, t-shirt, etc.) .
+ Share them with your family so they can do the same!
+ Edit or alter the images in any way, including cropping and filters.
+ Claim the work as your own.
+ Use them for commercial gain.
Clients realize, in the end, that they truly only wanted the right to use their images for personal reasons and that is what they are getting!