Lately, I have been seeing the topic of RAW files pop up around the internet, as well as during weddings and photo sessions. I think there is a lot of confusion around RAW files though. Not only do most people not know what RAW files actually are, they also don’t know why photographers don’t give them out. Here are a few common questions I get about RAW files.
There is sometimes confusion over what a RAW photos actually are. They are usually thought of as high-resolution photos, even though they are different! A RAW photo is actually a file straight out of the camera that can’t be viewed without photo editing software. That means you can’t view, print, or share these photos because computers and phones can’t read the file. These files are designed to be edited and saved as JPEG files. They are large files with a lot of extra data. When photographers edit the photos, and save them as a jpeg, they are compressing the data and getting a smaller file.
There is nothing that can be done with a RAW file on the client’s end. They need to be edited with professional software to not only make them usable, but also to make they look perfect! The final photos have had the lighting, color, and crop all adjusted to make the photo ready for the client.
Part of my job as a photographer is to sort through all the photos after a session. At a typically engagement session I will take around 400 photos. I then deliver roughly one fourth of that amount to the client. Don’t worry, I am not hiding any good photos from you! For every pose, I take a few photos to make sure everyone’s eyes are open and the photo is in focus.
If I start with 400 photos, I will be down to 125 after getting rid of the duplicates! After that, I go through and get rid of all the extra photos. That means, if I adjusted something, or if we moved a trashcan out of the way, I get rid of those first photos before we made the adjustments. After an hour of work, I am down to the 80-100 best photos from the session! You won’t even miss the other photos, because they are ones you would delete anyways!
I delete all of the extra photos I don’t deliver to the client. RAW files are large and take up a lot of space. No one wants to use extra space on photos that are blurry and unusable!
After editing, I save the photos as JPEG files. A JPEG can be saved on your phone, uploaded to social media, and printed anywhere! It’s the universal file type for all photos.
This is where the difference between RAW files and high-resolution photos! After editing and saving the RAW files, I am left with high-resolution JPEG photos. These are what I deliver to my clients! They are small enough to be saved on your phone and computer, but also large enough to print. I have had clients print 20×30 canvases with these files with no problems!
There have been some unfortunate news stories lately about scam photographers that either don’t deliver any photos, or only deliver poor photos. These stories have scared people into asking what they can do to avoid this happening to them. Some articles suggest asking for the RAW files as a solution. However, the best way to avoid scam photographers is to ask questions before booking. I am always willing to share full galleries with potential clients, I blog all of my sessions, and I have plenty of past clients that will tell you I always deliver high quality photos within the given time frame.
My best suggestion is to be open and honest with your photographer instead of asking for the RAW files. If you don’t like how the photos were edited, or anything else, just talk to them and see what can be done. Most professional photographers don’t release their RAW files, but are willing to work with you on any issues you may have!
Do you have more questions? Or other fears about booking a photographer? Contact me today and we can talk about it!
Need to cross a few more things off of your to-do list? Check out my other wedding tips!
Alecs Kay Photography is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer in Fargo, ND