Why photographers won't give out RAW files.
You will get a ton of advice about your wedding or elopement photography. Some will be good advice, like having your hair and makeup done and some will be not so good, like asking for your raw files. I’ve had clients ask me for raw files, but they didn’t even know what a raw file was or why they might need them. I’m here to tell you, as a bride or groom, you should never need to get the raw files from your photographer. Here’s the down low about raw files just to clear the air!
First things first, what is a raw file?
A raw file is an unprocessed file that is collected from your camera full of data. As a professional photographer, I always use raw files because they are a superior file to process. I use Nikon cameras and our raw files are labeled .NEF. A raw file is often called a digital negative for a few reasons. One, you can’t view it without something special to help you; and two, it’s not ready to view, print or share, it’s just a bunch of data. In order to view the raw files you need a special program, such as an Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, which is what I use to process the photographs.
If the raw file is better, why can’t I have it?
First of all, you won’t be able to see it or print it. So, it’s kind of like you don’t even have a photograph. One of the most important things you have chosen in a wedding photographer is their particular style. While that style is easily seen in the way they may arrange poses, composition or their focal length, a major element of a photographer’s style is the way the photographs look. That includes the tone, color, and brightness of the images. I am a bright and airy photographer with blue-greens and creamy skin tones. That’s part of my signature! In my contract, and the contract of every photographer I know, I include a clause that clients cannot alter the images in any way. They have been edited to my specifications for each client to represent my photography company and my clients’ love story. It would be like changing the frosting on your wedding cake after the baker delivers it - it would be a misrepresentation of their work. You hired your wedding photographer based on the images you saw from their previous work, so let them make those same type of images for you and trust them to do their job!
Raw files are bigger, but not better!
If you’re worried your wedding images I provide won’t be able to be printed big enough while retaining their quality, I’m here to tell you they can be! I’ve had my images go on billboards, so the files are certainly large enough! All of the images you receive are at the largest file size available at 300dpi. They are plenty large enough to print for any personal use. If any other need arises outside of standard personal use, please let me know so we can arrange an agreement.
What about the outtakes? Can’t I see behind the scenes?
Your images that I provide are carefully curated to show the very best of you two together. You don’t need to see the outtakes, that’s why they are outtakes! You’ll receive 600-1000 images from your wedding day, so you’ll see the very best of every single moment of the big day.
Everything I do, I do it for you!
You hired your photographer because you trust them, you love their vision, and you were enchanted with the way they share their clients’ stories through photographs. And that’s what your photographer’s job is to deliver - that finished product, ready to put on the wall and in an album for you to relive your big day. That’s what you need, and that’s what you really want! You don’t want the raw images when you paid for the gorgeous framed artwork for your bedroom. Just like you don’t want the engine to the car without the dark blue body and snow tires. The engine has no use without the other parts. Go find your favorite images in your wedding gallery, print those beautiful images, and don’t worry about the raw files!