Why Your Photographer Won’t Give You the RAW Files
As a professional photographer, I have been asked this question more times than I can count. Why won’t I give my raw photo files to my clients? There are several practical reasons when it comes to this request.
As a photographer, raw photo files are the raw material that I work with when I’m creating a finished image. They contain significantly more data than what you will receive as the finished product; this means larger file sizes and a longer wait for the files to be downloaded and installed on your devices or computers.
In general, raw files will take up more time, computer resources, and even charging power for digital devices. Even if I took the photo in RAW format, it’s important to remember that raw photos require editing; otherwise, they can look flat and boring compared to their finalized form.
That’s why you don’t get raw photo files directly from me – I spend hours perfecting my images so they look just right before sending them out into the world. Raw files are fantastic resources but most people would prefer something that is immediately ready-to-view instead of requiring hours of additional work. For these reasons and many others, I work hard to deliver truly remarkable finished photographs each and every time.
As a professional photographer, I can attest to the fact that raw photo files taken directly from the camera are usually far from perfect. They are essentially unedited, and require multiple adjustments in order to look their best. Because of this, raw images often appear flat and dull compared to the final product—and unsuspecting clients may be unhappy with the results.
While raw photos provide more control for editing purposes, they often need extensive tweaking before they become portfolio-worthy images. This is why most photographers don’t give them out; raw files are often not even close to the final product, and take considerable time and energy to adjust.
The editing process alone can range anywhere from a few hours to multiple days depending on the complexity of the project and desired outcome. Raw photos require an incredible amount of effort that may be outside of what a client expects or is willing to pay for. Therefore, I tend not to provide raw files unless it’s explicitly part of an agreement with a particular project. That said, I am more than happy to communicate all my edits throughout the editing process so that my clients are fully aware of what goes into making great photos!
Perhaps most importantly, raw files represent my complete creative vision for the photographs, from taking the shot to applying color corrections after processing. Each photograph stands as evidence of my expertise and artistic style, so it is always best for me to retain control over the raw image.
So, the next time you’re tempted to ask your photographer for the RAW files, remember that these unedited images are far from perfect. The final product—the edited and polished photo that you see in their portfolio or on social media—takes hours (or even days) of work to create. By asking for the RAW files, you’re not only asking for more work for your photographer, but you may also be disappointed with the results.