5 reasons your photographer won’t give out RAW files
So, you want to book a photoshoot and you receive several packages from photographers. Some say you receive all the edited photos from your session, some stipulate no RAW’s are given, and some say that you only choose from a select number of retouched portraits.
You sit and read the term RAW and give it a Google to find out what it means and see that it just means the unedited file that is straight from the camera. You may think, “yes, I want the unedited version too! I can add my own edit maybe or I will receive more photos.”
Let’s debunk RAW files and if they are even worth trying to get.
1. It’s sounds like a foreign concept, so it seems more attractive
Every profession has their own jargon and in the world of photography, the term RAW gets flung around a lot. It sounds cool and makes the file seem way more important. Think about business professionals and when they use their jargon, it sounds impressive!
2. You won’t be able to use the RAW file without software
A RAW file comes in a format of cr2 – it is uncompressed data from the camera. You can’t just open a RAW file as you need editing software such as Adobe Lightroom. You can try to open it on your computer, but it will show a quick preview if you are lucky and then show you this:
3. The photographer knows what they are doing
As an avid retoucher, I turn my RAW files into a beautiful, finished product. I fix the backgrounds, I colour grade it, I retouch skin and create a piece of art for my clients. Look at how I changed this RAW file to a work of art.
If you don’t like the editing style of the photographer, do not ask them to change it. Find a photographer that suits your personal taste.
Your photographer has a good idea of what they are doing and how they want the result to look like. Trust the process!
4. You’re missing out on a finished product
By just giving you all the unedited files, you are missing out on:
- The service that you paid for (yes, editing is worked into the cost)
- There might be things in your photos that could be removed (such as blemishes, people in the background etc)
- A finished product
One of my favourite analogies to use if someone asks about unedited photos is that if you went to a fancy restaurant, you aren’t going to ask for the uncooked ingredients. You want the finished meal so you can enjoy it. Same thing with portraits, you want to be able to get them printed, put them on your phone and show your friends and family.
5. These files are BIG – you will need a lot of storage
RAW files are huge! For example, my RAW data can be anywhere from 20mb-50mb depending on my settings. One of my sessions with all the RAW file’s ranges from 4-10GB. For weddings, you are looking at 100GB plus. You need decent storage if you were to receive them.
My final thoughts and advice
Do you research on your photographer and make sure that their editing style is what you want. Most of the times that I have seen people ask photographers for RAW files is because they don’t like the final edit. If you like dark and moody, book a dark and moody photographer. If you like bright and airy, book someone who can achieve that. Don’t ask a moody photographer to edit bright and airy and vice versa.
Look at their overall portfolio and imagine you in their portraits. If you like that idea, then you have found the one. I wrote a blog post on how to choose a photographer.
RAW files aren’t that cool for everyday people. They are not worth they hype as a client. And if you are a photographer, don’t give your RAW files out 😉