To the client who wants all of my RAW images,
I’m trying really hard not to be upset with you, so instead I’m just going to roll my eyes, explain what RAW files are and why you don’t need them and move on. In the early days of my business, I would have smiled graciously and handed over all of the RAW files, without even culling first. Because as a newbie, I had no idea of what could go wrong if I handed over my RAW files.
I’m going to assume that you had no idea how ridiculous it is that you asked me to give you the RAW files. I’m going to assume that you simply don’t understand what RAW files are. I’m going to assume that you thought you were simply requesting high resolution, edited images… and that you found ‘request RAW files from photographer’ on some forum in an online wedding planning website.
And as we can’t trust those wedding websites to properly educate couples on wedding photography, let’s talk about exactly why I won’t be giving you a single RAW file…
RAW files are unfinished, unedited files!! That’s why they’re called ‘RAW’ files. Your wedding photos are my art and I’m not going to hand over my art before it’s completely finished. I know firsthand what kind of horrible editing can take place with a RAW file because I used to cross process images and spot color wedding flowers. There’s a reason those editing trends fell out of style. (Hint: it’s because they were HORRIBLE.)
I simply can’t trust anyone’s amateur editing skills with my professional images… because I don’t want my photography associated with bad editing ever again. Trust me, I had enough bad editing in my early years to fill my quota for my entire career. My editing style has completely changed over the years… and it’s a key part of my photography style. Bottom line: I’m not going to let you edit your own photos. It’s really that simple. And I’m actually a little offended that you think you can edit my photos better than I can!
I’m assuming at this point that you’ve realized that you didn’t even know what you were asking for when you asked me for my RAW files. I’m really hoping that you weren’t intending to ask for my unedited images. Because I don’t want to shoot your wedding unless you trust me to capture and deliver fantastic images.
So let’s recap here… RAW files are unfinished, unedited files and there’s no reason you should ever need them, okay? I’m glad we cleared that up and I look forward to capturing your wedding with hundreds of finished images.
the photographer who will never hand over her RAW files
Letters From a Photographer is a brand new, original series by Design Aglow. Articles are meant to spark thought and conversation and be shared within our industry.
P.S. While the above reply may be the stuff of our wildest dreams, as we all know, a more appropriate response would be to reeducate your client about the type of business you operate and the type of (excellent) service and top of the line custom products they receive.
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From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.