Traci and Troy Blog » Indianapolis Wedding Photographers

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  • a sibling photography team in Indianapolis, Indiana

Monthly Archives: April 2017

Can we have the RAW files from our wedding?

I get asked this question a few times a year so I thought it was worth writing a blog post! If a couple asks if they can have the RAW files from their wedding day, I politely decline. Here’s why:

A raw file isn’t an image. It’s information gathered by the camera sensor and delivered on a memory card. RAW files allow professional photographers to keep as much information as possible within the file for it to be edited. Photographers take their RAW images, upload them into a program, and then edit them before they’re compressed into an actual image.

I wish I could take credit for this, but I heard this example a few years ago and thought it made a lot of sense:

A RAW file is like giving someone these ingredients in a pan and calling it a birthday cake 🙂 Makes sense, doesn’t it?! RAW files also take up A LOT more space on the computer because they’re uncompressed– they haven’t been “baked” into an image yet!

Second, our post-processing is part of our final product and contributes greatly to our photography style. If someone wants our RAW files and intends to edit the images themselves, it takes away half of what WE bring to the images. Our editing is part of our brand. Our couples pay us to give them a final gallery that’s consistent with our brand. If we release our RAW files, we’re giving someone else the freedom to create with our images!

For example, here’s a before and after of our editing, but remember the image on the left is not a RAW file; it’s an unedited jpeg file. Are you following?!

And finally, sometimes we have a tendency to overshoot (better safe than sorry, right?!). Culling through the RAW files is a large part of preparing a wedding gallery. We remove files that are out of focus, duplicates, unflattering, or worthless. We shoot so much that removing these files still provides our couples with PLENTY of pictures! Our last bride and groom were given more than 1400 pictures in their final gallery.

Trust your photographers to tell your wedding story in their style with the images they decide are worth keeping. You’ve invested in them; let them do the work!

During this time of year, we always clean our hard drives to prepare for wedding season. I get so nostalgic looking through years of pictures and the couples that mean so much to us. Although our working style is quite the same, the visible differences in our photography style are evident.

Here’s a snapshot of some of our very first weddings!

Our past work has led us to the work we do today. Each year we have new goals to accomplish. There may be something technical we want to master or a weakness we’d like to improve. Two years ago, one of our goals was to become more conscious of wedding photography trends and to stay away from them! This was a product of reading Justin and Mary’s Lighting Guide where they told the story of Justin’s parents’ wedding photos and brandy snifters. Yes, you read that correctly: brandy snifters. The trend in the late 1970s was to superimpose the couple’s heads into glassware such as brandy snifters. They were popular at the time, but today we laugh at the thought!

That made us think. What’s today’s version of a brandy snifter? Where are we too trendy in our work? All photos will naturally look outdated at some point, but what can we do to assure they don’t look outdated because of something WE’VE done. Justin and Mary speak of the “kid v. grandkid standard.” What kind of pictures will our kids and grandkids want framed in their homes someday? Which pictures will they laugh at because of something WE did?

There was a definite shift in how we approached the wedding day at the beginning of June in 2015. We want to tell the wedding story in a modern way, but we seek to be more classy in our posing, in our post processing, and even in our camera angles.

We feel like we “found ourselves” at that time. And even though we plan to keep stretching and reaching and improving, we want to do it through the lens of classy, timeless images, and post processing that mimics what your eyes see.

We’re proud of each step we’ve taken, the goals we’ve accomplished along the way, and where we’ve landed. We’ll continue to pursue excellence while striving to pass the grandkid test!

When I was married, a shot list wasn’t something that was common to give your photographer before the wedding, but I think I would have enjoyed creating one for him. I’m always looking for ways to be organized, and I love lists. Providing a shot list would have given me something to do during the waiting part of planning my wedding and really, I would have assumed it could have been helpful to my photographer! But I would have been wrong. There are a few important reasons why working from a shot list isn’t necessary for our working style!

Disclaimer: a “shot list” does not refer to a list for family formals; a list is quite necessary for that part of the wedding day!

1.  We like to be emotionally present on the wedding day. A shot list forces us to check off a list of pictures instead of taking pictures of your wedding story as it unfolds. We want to capture you genuinely– the emotions, the moments– and we can’t do this if we’re looking at a list and forcing a pose from it.

2. Pinterest is a bride’s best friend, but it can also lead to unrealistic expectations. We’ll talk about this in a future blog post, but when a bride shows me a picture she wants to imitate from Pinterest, there are a few things I notice– the lighting, the location, the pose, the height difference between the couple, and even the hair style. When you see a picture on Pinterest, there’s a good chance it’s beautiful for many reasons that are out of our control. We can use the photo as inspiration but replicating it is often hard to do.

3. A shot list can keep you from getting photos you really want. So many of our favorite pictures take place between a pose, while in transition, or behind the scenes. If we’re only focused on the list, we’ll miss these special moments!

With that said, communication with your photographer is so important. If posed pictures are most important to you, communicate that. If candid pictures are most important to you, communicate that. I always ask our couples to provide us with a list of a few pictures we wouldn’t typically take during the wedding day. I think a list of 3 or 4 pictures is reasonable. For instance:

  1. The bride and groom with a group of their college friends
  2. The groom and ring bearer holding the family Bible used during the ceremony
  3. The mother of the bride with her siblings that all live out of state

The biggest compliment a couple can tell us before a wedding is “We trust you. Just do your thing.”

We don’t need a shot list for that!




When I first started my business in 2008 I quickly realized I needed a space designated for photography. I considered a studio space but quickly realized it didn’t make much sense with my (primarily) wedding business and proximity of most of my couples. With the help of a friend, we took my branding and designed a photography office that I WANTED to be in– and not just to work!

Here’s a simple look at my space! Enjoy the peek into my world 🙂

Our logo and business cards designed by Second Street Creative.

The “publishing wall.” When a wedding is published by a wedding blog, we include their photo in this gallery wall. Admittedly, I don’t want to add more frames to the wall so I think I need to start rotating photos!

A canvas from my very first wedding in 2010 🙂

It’s probably one of the biggest decisions you make about the wedding day. The First Look.

I think brides originally choose a First Look because they don’t want to keep their guests waiting at the reception, but there are so many other reasons.  We believe a First Look isn’t just advantageous to your guests, it can be advantageous to you and your groom too!

I have two disclaimers: 1. You’ll be happy to know I’ve talked to no bride and groom that regretted their first look decision– whether they chose to have one or not. Rest assured, you can’t make a bad decision!  2. We prefer First Looks, but if you choose not to have one, that is 100% fine with us! We’re working for you and will respect your decision.

With that said, here are often overlooked reasons for First Looks:

1) The Pace. Overall, the pace of the wedding day is much different with a First Look. When you wait for your bride and groom portraits until after the ceremony, there’s a rush to finish the pictures so you can get to the reception on time. Managing family dynamics during family formals is stressful but needing to do them quickly so you can rush to get SOME pictures of the two of you before you need to be introduced at the reception, can be a lot to handle. With a First Look, you spend 45-90 minutes alone with each other and then have more time with your wedding party before the ceremony begins. Most of the time, it’s slower paced, allowing you time to have fun and treasure every moment!

2. Alone Time. Your wedding day is a whirlwind. There are so many people to see and so many emotions to experience and remember. First Looks allow you to be together on your wedding day. When you see each other beforehand you’ll spend 45-90 minutes with Troy and me during your portraits. I love when couples acknowledge this time is one of their favorite times of their wedding day. You get to spend time TOGETHER– snuggling, kissing– and if your portrait location is somewhat private, this can be a very meaningful time!

3) The Nerves.  As you prepare to become one, it’s only natural you want to be together during stressful situations. We don’t want to think about it, but your wedding day may not go as planned. Perhaps it’s storming and you have an outside wedding planned, maybe you don’t like the way your hair looks, or maybe a family member is frustrating you. There’s something so calming about just BEING TOGETHER on your wedding day. We see it time and time again; after a First Look, there’s a relief– a joy– and none of it matters anymore.

4) The Moment. Couples may think they lose THE MOMENT of seeing each other when they walk down the aisle. The feeling is overwhelming, but guess what? It’s overwhelming regardless. After I’ve spent time with a couple during a First Look, I still get goosebumps and tears in my eyes when that bride walks down the aisle. THE MOMENT IS NOT LOST if you’ve had a First Look. You hear the processional song. Your wedding party and groom stares at you from the front. Your guests all stand. Your groom sees you walk down the aisle. It’s an amazing moment at every wedding regardless!

5) The Photos. With a First Look, we plan for at least 45 minutes with our couple before the ceremony. These will most likely be your favorites photos of the day– the ones you decorate your home with, the ones framed in your parents’ homes. This time before the ceremony assures that you’re getting the most of your investment in us. There is a natural tendency to feel rushed and distracted if you wait to take photos until after the ceremony. True, intimate images most often happen before the ceremony.

We love First Looks. We’ve seen their benefit over and over again, and we hope this helps you think through what’s best for you, but remember our disclaimers:

1) You’ll love whatever you decide to do.

2) We’ll love whatever you decide to do too!