Have you ever wondered why Photographers don’t give out the “Raw” files from your Session?

In this blog post I will go over all of the reasons why Professional Photographers don’t give out Raw Files.

1. You won’t be able to open them - raw is not the same as unedited: CameraRaw files need a special program to open them, such as Lightroom or Photoshop. These programs are used by professionals. RAW files pack more information into them so they’re easier to edit with more range than a JPEG. Often when Clients say that they want the RAW files, they really mean unedited JPEGs.

2. You probably don’t want to see them:  When a Photographer decides not to show you an image, it’s because it’s either an exact duplicate of another image, you’re blinking, or someone is moving so it’s blurry, or someone has a scowl. It could be that someone isn’t looking at the camera or a technical issue like the flash not going off or the image is out of focus. In any case, you do not want to see these images. No photographer would show their client less than the best. 

Sometimes it can take 10-15 tries to get the perfect image for you depending on the complexity of the posing and the technical side of things. We worked super hard to get that 1 amazing image, I wouldn’t want to give you an image that wasn’t as perfect as the one we strived for.

For example. Froggy Pose is done as a composite image. It requires 2 images to be placed together to create 1 image. You wouldn’t want to see all of the images that were required to create this image, with the photographer or assistant’s hands in every shot.

If a photographer didn’t include a specific image in your gallery, you can ask them to have another look but more than likely they just don’t have the image you’re looking for, for the reasons stated above, or because they simply missed the shot. We’re human, it happens. 

3. They do not accurately represent the Photographer’s Final Product: Would you go to a bakery to buy a cake and be happy with getting the eggs, sugar and flour but no actual cake? The product is unfinished. Would you go to the Zoo to see the animals but the animals aren’t there? It’s the same thing.

The Photographer owns the copyright to all images produced, whether they are edited or not. Even though you paid for the photographer to take images, legally they belong to the photographer unless the photographer gives you the copyright. It’s the photographer’s right to not give out work that they feel is unfinished or not up to par with the rest of the images presented to the client.

Some Photographers choose to offer clients Watermarked Proof Galleries of images that are Unedited, this saves time for you the client as well as your photographer. Unedited Proof Galleries are not the same thing as giving you the unedited jpegs or “raw files”, these images are protected by the watermark and are not for clients to screenshot or edit on their own.

With this all being said, Every photographer works differently as we are all independent business owners. The majority will not give you every unedited image because you’ve paid for a luxury service. We want our clients having the most beautiful work we’ve ever created and we pride ourselves on being able to offer a luxury service to our clients. We don’t want to be cheapened or offer a sub par service by giving out our unedited images.

If you want unedited images, most people have iPhones that do a pretty decent job but they are certainly no match to professional work.

Copyright laws and customs will vary between countries, and the opinions in this post are my own.