I’m often asked by my clients after a great shoot, “Can I please have a disc with all of the unedited photos on them?” My answer will always be “No.”
I hate having to say no to a client and in most cases I usually say yes because I want you the customer to be happy with my product and the experience of working with me, but in this case I will always say no. I don’t want you guys to think that I’m being cheap. If you offer me money I will still not offer up my raw files. Please allow me to explain why:
1. Professional photographers shoot in RAW format
A RAW file is a gigantic file that allows photographers to keep photographs in it’s purest form. This means you get the highest quality print available. Most photo programs won’t even open RAW files so unless you have Photoshop or Lightroom you wouldn’t even be able to view the files on your computer. Converting RAW files to JPEG takes an enormous amount of time due to the high file size and the amount of files being converted. If I take 300 shots of you during a portrait session and I had to convert all of them to jpeg, that would take most of my time and I wouldn’t be able to run a business. I’d rather spend my time editing the great shots that I know you will love.
2. Photography is an Art
Part of the reason you hired a professional photographer is because we have the judgment to decide what makes a good photograph and what does not. Photography is not only how I make a living, it is an art form. It is how I express myself. When I hand over photographs to a client, I want to make sure that you have my best art work. Giving you a raw, unedited photo is giving you incomplete work. If you take that raw file and show your friends and family or other potential clients an unfinished image, then their impression of me as a photographer and artist is probably not a respectable one. A writer would never give you his or her first drafts just because you loved reading his books.
The bottom line is, trust the photographer that you hired to choose which images are the best. We have a reputation to upkeep to stay in business and we are passionate about our art. Our job as professionals is to weed out the bad photos from the good and enhance the good ones to make them perfect.