What’s up friends! The topic of RAW images has been coming up a lot lately for my friends and I, so I thought I would write a blog post about it with some education for you all!
What are RAWs, anyway? RAW is a file format that most cameras can shoot in, and gives you all the data off the sensor. It doesn’t compress the image in any way, and it’s the best for editing because you can really go in and fine tune your settings.
Why don’t I need them? (I as in, you, the client) For lots of reasons, which I will explain below!
They aren’t the prettiest coming out of camera: A misconception people might have, is they think your images come out of camera looking like your finished gallery, and that absolutely is not the case. When you shoot RAW, the images are flat, boring, and can look different in different lighting situations. Most of the time, they aren’t that great at all. For example, if I’m doing an engagement session at sunset and we’re still shooting right after the sun went down, I’ll shoot a little darker and slightly underexposed because I know I can bring the exposure up later and have the image still look great. When it comes to weddings, and particularly the reception, beige/yellow walls can really throw off your white balance, making everything look a little orange. With the RAWs, we can easily fix that to make sure the whites in the image, still look white. If you don’t know how to fix them, you’re going to be left with a big orange mess.
You need editing software to even do anything with them: Chances are, you don’t have Lightroom, Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw, or PhotoMechanic to cull, etc, etc. You’ll need something to have something, and none of those programs I listed are free. You would have to pay more money (on top of what you’ve already paid the photographer) to download them, and then try to figure out how to use it. I went to school for photography, and got the concept of how to actually edit my photos after my 11 week, 44 hour class was over. And that was with a teacher there, telling me what to do, and answering questions when I needed help. These programs are no joke. Sure, you could maybe watch a YouTube video and try to figure it out. But why waste your time and energy trying to do that? Leave it to the professionals, who have already been paying for software, and spent all the time in the world learning how to use it at it’s fullest capacity.
We’re more efficient: I’ve been doing this for the last 5 years – I know what images are good, I know when they’re not, and I have my editing down to a science. I think back to how slow I used to be when I was first starting out, and man oh man. I spent a ton of time going through the photos, and then even more time trying to figure out how I was going to edit them. After lots of practice, we got everything down and can do this process a lot faster than nonprofessionals could. And that’s just the same with everything! If I were to go head to head in a cooking competition with a chef, I would take forever to peel some potatoes, take my time to measure out ingredients, and have to stop every 5 seconds to read the recipe. The chef would just do everything with muscle memory, and compete it in no time, without breaking a sweat. In addition, if you get all the RAWs, going through them can be quite overwhelming. Not every single picture is going to be a winner, and you’ll also see all the bad ones. We take the time to go through them so you get all the best! Which is what you want to look at anyway. Please enjoy all of these ugly photos of me which are embarrassing, but I’m going to share them to prove my point!! I don’t care who you are, or how long you’ve been doing this. There will be ugly pictures somewhere in there hahah
Editing is our art: Photographers edit their images in their own style, to make it unique to them. Say you do end up getting the RAWs, and you sit down to try and edit them. I can guarantee that you won’t be able to replicate your photographer’s style of editing, and it’s going to look completely different. Then, if you post that photo and credit the photographer, it’s going to send incredibly mixed signals to anyone looking at it. If someone sees that image, they will think that the photographer did it that way, maybe they will think that all of their work looks like that. Then, if that person goes to our website and sees something completely different, they won’t know what to expect if they were to also work with that person. And don’t even think about saying “but we won’t credit you then!” because that makes us want to cry all over the place. We want to make sure all of the work that is going out, looks and feels like us. We want all out clients to be able to know and trust that if Shannon is my photographer, her work is going to be edited in the same style that they saw across all platforms, and all clients. And chances are, you yourself probably hired your photographer based on that idea. So leave them to all the hard work!
For an extreme example: Say you edit your photo to be completely blue, and cool it down so the whole thing is just literally, blue. And then a Smerf see it and is like “Damn, I love that all blue photo, those skin tones are killer. Oh, Shannon took it? Well I want Shannon to be my wedding photographer, I’ll go inquire.” Then the Smerf goes to my website, and sees no blue photos. The Smerf is confused, but inquires and tells Shannon that he wants all the photos edited like that. But Shannon has no idea how to edit like that, since she wasn’t the one to do it, and cannot deliver the same type of editing that they originally saw. Now the Smerf + Shannon are super sad.
You might not actually get to it, because life happens: I’m going to end this with kind of a sad story. At least, it’s sad for me. I’ve now made this sound like it’s going to be horrible and I’m sorry, it’s not this dramatic, hahah. So this goes back to the very first wedding I pretty much ever shot. I was given $400 to show up, take pictures, and then at the end of the night I was to give them all the RAWs, and they said they would edit them all themselves. So, being so new to the industry, and needing work, I was kind of okay with it. I really needed to get the work and practice in. I stayed in touch with them, and asked how the photos were coming along. Almost a year later, they still didn’t do anything at all with the photos. I think she told me she only edited a few, and would get to it later. It honestly broke my heart. It’s one of the biggest days in your life, and your photos deserved to be finished and look beautiful! I am being paid to do my job, and it’s a little less motivating for people to take on such a big project when they have so many other things going on. To be completely honest, if I go on vacation and take a ton of photos, I don’t even really go through or edit them. They should be the most fun ones to finish up, right!? But they’re just not. They go on the back burner, and I almost never get to them because I have client work, life, etc. Do I care about them? Absolutely. But, I think the same is going to happen to you. Life is going to happen, and then your photos will become a project that you’ll do “one day.”
But we want the highest quality photos – we need the RAWs! You are going to get high quality JPEGS, which are great for both internet use and printing. Plus, most social medias won’t even let you upload from RAW format and you typically can’t print from RAW either.
Bottom line: in my opinion, don’t waste your time wanting the RAWs. Leave all the culling, editing, and delivering up to your photographer. Save your time and money letting them do their job that they were hired for! We promise you’re going to love them.